Arsene Wenger was delighted with Arsenal's performance during their 4-2 win over BATE Borisov in the Europa League on Thursday (28 September) despite the Gunners struggling in the final stages of the game.
The Gunners dominated the opening exchanges of the game and were 3-0 up after 25 minutes following a brace from Theo Walcott and a first Arsenal goal for Rob Holding.
Arsenal seemed in control of the game, but their three- goal lead lasted just three minutes as Borisov pulled one back before the break. The north London club seemed to put it out of their reach when Olivier Giroud scored his 100th goal for the club via a penalty early in the second-half.
The Belarusian club, however, were not willing to give up and continued to push on and scored a second with 23 minutes remaining and went on to threaten to get more in the final quarter of the game. Poor finishing and couple of good saves from David Ospina ensured the score remained unchanged at the final whistle.
Wenger started a team dotted with youth team players along with experienced heads. Reiss Nelson, Joe Willock and Ainsley Maitland-Niles were involved from the start while Marcus McGuane and Eddie Nkethia made their club debuts off the bench. Despite the mixed team, the manager was happy with the cohesion and said his team delivered the desired performance.
"I believe overall we had a team that was a mixture of experienced players and young players and overall we had a good cohesion. We played football like we wanted to play, with good pace in our game. We maintained it for 65 minutes maybe, but the last 20 minutes were a bit more difficult. Overall, I am very pleased with our performance," Wenger said after the win, as quoted on Arsenal's official site.
The French coach also praised Giroud after the striker reached the 100-goal mark for Arsenal across all competitions. The France international became the 19th player to score 100 goals for the Gunners.
The 30-year-old was linked with a move away this summer as Everton were touted to be a potential suitor, but Giroud chose to remain with the club despite not being guaranteed a regular starting role after telling the coach that his story with Arsenal was not yet over.
"I just congratulated him for his remarkable achievement of 100 goals. He is in good company when you look. When you play football, the most difficult thing is to score goals and he has scored 100 for us," the Gunners boss added.