You didn’t need to be fluent in Spanish word ‘vamos’ to comprehend what it meant to the Gunners manager. His contorted expression said it all.
Crisis averted. Because that’s exactly what it would have been had Arsenal suffered embarrassment here at the Emirates Stadium.
Trailing 1-0 from the first leg, the Gunners had little margin for error against BATE Borisov – even though the gulf in class between the two sides is abundantly clear.
But in what had the potential to be an extremely anxious night, Arsenal kept their nerve to reach the Europa League last 16 – headers from Shkodran Mustafi and Sokratis adding to Zakhar Volkov’s early own goal.
Questions remain over Arsenal’s evolution under Emery. At times, their performance against the Belarusian side lacked cohesion and appeared disjointed.
But at this stage of the season, results outweigh the performances. Emery – who has won this competition three times – knows that more than most.
InIn his time of need, Emery turned to Mesut Ozil, recalled to the starting XI despite the lingering doubt over his future at the club.
By the end of the evening the German was wearing the captain’s armband.
Maybe there is a place for Ozil in Emery’s plans after all. His contribution against BATE would certainly have provided his manager with food for thought.
It took four minutes to wipe out the deficit from their humiliating first-leg defeat – Volkov turning into his own net, under pressure from Henrikh Mkhitaryan, following Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s low cross.
MATCH FACTS AND STATS
Arsenal (4-2-3-1): Cech 6.5; Lichtsteiner 7, Mustafi 7, Koscielny 6.5 (Sokratis 57, 7), Monreal 6.5; Guendouzi 6.5 (Torreira 63, 6.5), Xhaka 7.5; Mkhitaryan 6.5 (Suarez 78), Ozil 7, Iwobi 7; Aubameyang 7.
Subs not used: Leno, Ramsey, Kolasinac, Nketiah.
Goals: Volkov OG (4), Mustafi (39), Sokratis (60)
Manager: Unai Emery 7
BATE Borisov (4-2-3-1): Scherbitski 5; Rios 5, Volkov 5, Filipenko 5.5, Filipovic 6; Simovic 5.5, Dragun 5 (Berezkin 64, 5); Milic 5, Baga 5.5 (Hleb 58, 5.5), Stasevich 6; Skavysh 5.5 (Dubajic 72).
Subs not used: Chichkan, Yablonski, Nemirko, Moumkam.
Manager: Aleksei Baga – 5.5
Referee: Alberto Mallenco – 6