Arsenal travel to Belarus to take on BATE Borisov in their second game of this season’s Europa League on Thursday night.
Here, Press Association Sport analyses their little-known opponents.
BATE’s form is very similar to Arsenal’s. Like their visitors they remain undefeated in September, with Saturday’s 6-0 home win against FC Slutsk their fifth victory from their past six unbeaten matches. From 31 fixtures this season they have recorded 20 victories, six draws and five defeats.
Thursday’s match is BATE’s 32nd of the season. Their first came on April 1, meaning they have been involved in regular competition for the past six months compared to Arsenal’s two. Incidentally, it is by the six-month point of the season that many of Europe’s other leagues have had their mid-season breaks.
Former Arsenal and Barcelona forward Alexander Hleb started his career at BATE before his transfer to Stuttgart in 2000. They are not only also Belarus’ reigning champions; their 2016 title success was their 11th in succession.
ONES TO WATCH
Striker Vitali Rodionov and attacking midfielder Mikhail Gordeichuk have formed the Belarusian Premier League’s most successful attack, with both players finishing last season with 15 goals apiece. Gordeichuk tops the domestic charts with 14 so far this season, while Rodionov has five.
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