Arsenal reached the knockout stages of the Europa League despite a goalless draw against Red Star Belgrade. Striker Olivier Giroud, who scored a late winner in the reverse fixture, was guilty of missing a number of chances, twice being thwarted by Red Star goalkeeper Milan Borjan and shooting wide from inside the area. The game’s best chance fell to midfielder Jack Wilshere, but his shot from close range was cleared off the line. Serbian side Red Star had opportunities themselves, but striker Richmond Boakye could not hit the target with efforts in each half. The Premier League side top Group H with 10 points from four games and Cologne’s 5-2 win over BATE Borisov in the group’s other game means they progress.
Wilshere has largely been fielded in the cup competitions this season and showed glimpses of his capabilities by bursting forward with the ball from midfield, but his performance was not one that will cause Southgate to reconsider his decision. The former Bournemouth loanee could have settled the game in the second half, but his dinked shot was kept out acrobatically by visiting defender Damien Le Tallec. Another player left out of the Three Lions squad, Theo Walcott, was given the captain’s armband for the night but he too failed to impress, being unable to exert his influence on the game. The 28-year-old has played nearly 400 games for the Gunners since signing as a teenager from Southampton in 2005, but now has to be content with playing in a second-string side.
Walcott headed wide from a Wilshere cross in the second half and miscued a shot from inside the six-yard box with only the goalkeeper to beat. Arsenal travel to face unbeaten Premier League leaders Manchester City on Sunday