Hleb: Arsenal have a big advantage over BATE

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Former Gunner Alex Hleb says Arsenal will have a big advantage over BATE Borisov this evening because the Belarussian side haven’t played a competitive game since their mid-December victory against PAOK Salonika.

BATE were crowned champions of their domestic league for the 13th successive season at the tail end of last year but have since seen seven players leave the club.

Such a high turnover, coupled with the standard pre-season fitness worries, has Hleb, now 37 and in his fifth spell at the club, making Unai Emery’s players firm favourites.

“Arsenal are at the peak of readiness – for them this is a huge plus,” Hleb told Pressball, a leading sports newspaper in Belarus.

“It will be hard for us, and very much so. But we will try to squeeze the maximum out of the physical form that we have gained.

“The usual preparation is under way. We held a training camp in Turkey and got into shape, as far as possible at the current stage.

“It is clear that we did not achieve ideal conditions in such a short time. But we will try to look decent at home.

“We are not yet ready (to play at) 100 per cent, but the coaching staff decided not to force anything – realising that the guys had to rest after a hard season. And now we are working – in general, everything is according to plan.”

While Hleb might not rate BATE’s chances, Arsenal know they have to be wary of an upset. The Gunners faced the same opponents in the group stages of the Europa League, scoring ten goals on their way to 4-2 and 6-0 wins away and home respectively, but Emery insists BATE’s close pre-Christmas game with Chelsea is probably a better representation of their quality.

“(We treat them) with respect, first,” the Spaniard told his pre-game press conference.

“We can speak about two different situations from them. One is last year they played here and Arsenal won 4-2.

“The second is thinking about this year when they played in the groups, for example against Chelsea they lost one 1-0 but they had chances to score and to draw in this match.

“They are not in competition in the league but they prepared also in pre-season. We know they are a very organised team.

“I prefer to think they can take their best performance against us tomorrow with good players and their motivation is going to be very high.

“For this competition it’s the last 32 and they want to do well like us, respecting us. For us it’s to prepare and start this last 32 with a very big motivation and ambition to do something important.”

Fun fact – A clean sheet for Arsenal this evening would take us to six in a row and see us break the all-time Europa League record. We already hold this record in the Champions League (10 in 2005/06).

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SizC
SizC

Awww Hleb, whenever I hear that name, my Arsenal associated Tourette’s (AAT) makes me shout, “SHOOT”.

SizC
SizC

Silvestre made me shout “OH SHIT”

Anonymarse
Anonymarse

That’s mustafi

scott rice
scott rice

I know what you mean about Hleb not shooting much. But what a good player in other respects. Very talented two footed player.

Eternal Titi Berg Pat Nostalgia
Eternal Titi Berg Pat Nostalgia

He was like Gervinho who has been playing great in Italy this season. Scored two against Juventus recently.

Sue

AAT 😂👍 think we all suffer from that

Mpls
Mpls

At least he could hold on to the ball!
I miss his mazy dribbles.

Red-Sky
Red-Sky
Mpls
Mpls

true or not, I had my suspicions. He did sit on that contract for a long time before the club pulled it.

But he’s still going down as a great servant to the club for me. Can’t blame him for after all those years of service getting a giant payday and a couple more trophies in the cabinet. He very well may have gotten no more of that here. (Hopefully I’m wrong on the trophies part. We shall see.)

Red-Sky
Red-Sky

I blame him. We missed on selling him in the summer, if he was never going to sign any contract from the start then he took advantage of the club.

Faisal Narrage
Faisal Narrage

Strange that of all clubs in European competitions, it’s us that hold the record for clean sheets.

Anonymarse
Anonymarse

Just shows you statistics don’t mean anything

Lula
Lula

across a small sample size, with ill-defined variables or poor model design. and inferences from the results have varying degrees of bias and qualitivity, not all of which is visible or knowable pre-hoc and possibly post-hoc. However, if all stats mean nothing then there is basically no meaning.

Anonymarse
Anonymarse

I suppose I was asking for that

goonshow
goonshow

Will you be translating the local commentary for us tonight, mate?

scott rice
scott rice

Also interesting that for many of those clean sheets in 05/06 we had several injury problems in defence. The much maligned Senderos had a good season. In my view that was because he had a long run of games replacing the injured Sol Campbell. Continuity seemed to give him confidence. We were also without a recognized left back (Cole and Clichy were injured). Flamini filled in admirably.

I AM ARSENAL
I AM ARSENAL

Eboue at Rb

Teryima Adi
Teryima Adi

And those were the days.*sighs*

79/80/81
79/80/81

It’s not really strange. It’s only quite recently that we have been so porous at the back. GG’s legacy lasted many many years into AW era but when it was dwindling nothing was done to address this. And now we are effectively left trying to reinvent the wheel.

clockenddan
clockenddan

Next up – the all-time record for clean sheets in the Premier League, starting with our next match, on a solid run that sees us snatch 4th on the last day of the season #COYG

Public Elneny
Public Elneny

I loved Alex Hleb. Such a fun but frustrating player to watch. Like Gervinho but with even better dribbling and even worse finishing.

I had no idea he was still playing, will definitely watch this now.

The_Kolkata_Gooner
The_Kolkata_Gooner

Yeah, loved this guy. He is the perfect symbol of the Wenger in between-years.

Public Elneny
Public Elneny

I know what you mean, so much hope and so stylish but so little cathartic glory. That feeling that next year he would be world class if only he could learn how to shoot. Or that next year Arsenal will walk the league if only we signed a competent GK/CB/DM.

Of course Hleb’s flaws turned out to be unfixable, just like Wenger’s mistakes of that era didn’t turn out to be one off misjudgements but permanent blindspots.

The_Kolkata_Gooner
The_Kolkata_Gooner

Yeah, those years only bring up the feeling of what-could-have-been. Although I do feel Wenger deserved ONE title winning season at least – that season when we were doing so well until Eduardo’s horrible on-field injury left the youngsters affected in such a bad way (and that team was all youngsters), and we finished some four points behind the eventual winners. Our captain that season was Gallas, and it leaves you thinking how having a guy like Mertasacker instead might have had a positive effect on the team. Similarly, we could have won a couple of EFL Cups, which in the context of the barren years would have been a positive boost. And that Champions League run when we beat AC Milan (with Kaka, Pirlo, Seedorf, and Gatusso) at the San Siro 2-0, and agonizingly lost to Liverpool in the quarters by away goals was it?
Wenger had too much faith in his players, that was his ultimate blind spot I think. He believed that that bunch of immensely talented but underperfoming young players would be able to go the whole season without breaking, and every time they broke at some point. And it was tragic when it happened, every time!

goonshow
goonshow

Kinda like like a late 80’s early 90s band… you can’t really remember the name but the tune still gets you moving!

YoungFabregas
YoungFabregas

Worse finishing than Gervinho? Lol Bradford anyone?

Public Elneny
Public Elneny

Yeah well Gervinho did actually score some goals for us, even if his chance conversion rate was like < 5%. Hleb used to get into so many great positions and then just… dither.

Lula
Lula

I wonder how he would have faired if he didn’t swan off to barcelona though.

John C
John C

Like Walcott

Irrational Gunner

Sad day that one.

John C
John C

He literally had the weakest shot I have ever seen on a professionally footballer

Richie

Off topic but it was 3 years ago today when Welbeck scored ‘that’ goal against Leciester in the 95th minute. Apparently the loudest atmosphere ever at the Emirates. Genuinely believed we were going to win the league that season. By the way thanks to the website editor for reverting the news page back to the old layout of all news stories in chronological order; the new layout was terrible.

Cliff Bastin
Cliff Bastin

I got this seasons’s away jersey with Hleb printed on the back for the irony.

Johno
Johno

Mr. first touch – a class above nearly all others in that respect. Probably only Santi has come close since…

DB’s first touch
DB’s first touch

As much as I liked Hleb, the title of mr first touch belongs to Bergkamp surely…

Corona X
Corona X

*That* goal against Newcastle…!

Johno
Johno

True, but fair to say Dennis had more about the rest of his game than Mr. Hleb!

goonero
goonero

Just to play devils advocate, I’d imagine a tie against Arsenal would be a pretty big motivation to Bate players to keep relatively fit and fresh. A win over us at their place would be the stuff of legends for them. And their lack of immediate match sharpness may well be compensated for by their willingness to use their fresher legs to out graft us. I wouldn’t call it an outright advantage for either side as much as a “scenario modifier”. Let’s hope Unai and the boys are ready to meet whatever they’ve got in store for us.

Floppy Gloves
Floppy Gloves

Go away, Devil! You’re making me nervous!

goonero
goonero

Haha sorry for sharing that said I still expect our quality to see us through. But only if we’re up for a fight.

Mpls
Mpls

So judging by Emery’s comments I expect we’ll set up 3-4-3, sit back and try to absorb BATE’s migHty attack, and hope to nick one on the counter

Mpls
Mpls

Yup, 3-4-3.

Cacho
Cacho

The sorcerer has spoken. The prophecy will come to pass

Artro
Artro

I’m a Hlebrity, get me out of here!

I AM ARSENAL
I AM ARSENAL

Miss this guy. Formed a fantastic triumvate with Rosicky and Fabregas.

Mpls
Mpls

I miss Tomas too.

Des
Des

That was a big pile of dinosaur shit of a performance.