Arsenal's round of 32 opponents. Who are they?
Unai Emery has successfully guided Arsenal through the group stage of the UEFA Europa League, finishing in top position with 16pts, scoring 12 times and only conceding twice (5 wins and 1 draw, faring slightly better than last year's group phase) and now our round of 32 opposition has been drawn and we'll be facing FC BATE... But who are they??
Standing for Borisov Automobile & Tractor Electronics, BATE are the current champions of the Belarusian Premier League but lost out in the UCL qualifiers over two legs, to PSV Eindhoven. They're now defending their 13th consecutive league title and 15th overall. Their other honours include three Belarusian Cups and seven Super-Cups. They are the only team from Belarus to have qualified for the Champions League (6x) and one of two, to have done the same in the Europa League (with Dinamo Minsk). BATE were founded in 1973 and won the then "Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic League" three times before the club was disbanded in '84. They were then re-established in '96 and have won the Belarusian Premier League every season since as well as competing in the UEFA events.
Arsenal fans weren't all too familiar with BATE, until last year of course when we beat them over two group games (6-0, 4-2) and back then they'd also have known that former Gunner Aliaksandr Hleb who is Belarusian, played there in the past and has very recently signed back with the club at 37 years old so there'll definitely be a master class of some order coming both in Belarus on February 14th and again at The Emirates when we welcome back the Zauberlehrling (Sorcerer's Apprentice) to London.