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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 September 2018

Arsene Wenger has no problems with stay away Arsenal fans in Europa League

Large areas of the Emirates Stadium empty as the London side trounce BATE Borisov 6-0 in last group game.

Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere applauds fans after his side's win in the Europa League, even though there were large areas of the ground empty. Facunda Arrizabalaga / EPA
Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere applauds fans after his side's win in the Europa League, even though there were large areas of the ground empty. Facunda Arrizabalaga / EPA

Arsene Wenger insisted he respected the decision of Arsenal supporters who stayed away from Thursday night's Europa League victory over BATE Borisov.

The Gunners, already assured of progressing as winners of group H, hammered the Belarusian champions 6-0 in front of a record-low Emirates Stadium Crowd.

While the official figure was 54,648 it is understood less than 30,000 fans were present to see Arsenal run riot with an emphatic victory.

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Mathieu Debuchy, Theo Walcott, Jack Wilshere and Mohamed Elneny all got on the score-sheet while Denis Polyakov scored an own goal and Olivier Giroud converted a penalty.

The likes of Borussia Dortmund, Napoli or Celtic are now waiting in Monday's draw for the round of 32 as Wenger - toasting his 700th win as Arsenal boss at the full-time whistle - defended the decision of the stay-away supporters.

"I think you forget about that once you are on the pitch," he said when asked about the low attendance.

"It's true that you prefer the ground to be full, but tonight there was not a lot at stake on the competitive side. No matter how many sit in the stands, you have to give them what they expect - and that's what we did.

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"You respect the decision of your fans. They knew we were top of the group anyway and you could basically expect that.

"You have looked around last night in the Champions League in game number six, I have seen many grounds not full, or half empty. That is a bit the problem of the group stage."

Wenger was pleased with the display from his side as he delivered a landmark victory in style.

"I believe that it was done in a stylish way and in a technically high-quality game from our side," he said of the win.

"You can say the opponent was not at the level of the Premier League and I would agree with you but you can only do your job and that's what we did, in a convincing way with remarkable spirit and finished well the job in this group stage."

BATE coach Aleksandr Yermakovich admitted his side were not ready for the Arsenal onslaught as their season ended in heavy defeat.

"It was a totally different level for the team and it was very difficult for us," he said.

"We were not prepared for this match, we were trying to play for our fans and play attacking football, sadly it didn't happen."

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