Arsenal set up Emery reunion as first-half blitz crushes Slavia Prague

Date published: Thursday 15th April 2021 9:51 - Samuel Bannister

Arsenal booked their place in the Europa League semi-finals after a quickfire flurry of goals in the first half set them on their way to victory over Slavia Prague.

The game ended 4-0 in the Gunners’ favour to secure a 5-1 aggregate win. Three of the goals came within a six-minute window in the first half as Mikel Arteta’s side blitzed their opponents. After a tight first leg, this time they got the job done in convincing fashion.

Arsenal went into the game knowing they at least had to score once after conceding an away goal in last week’s 1-1 draw. However, they could not call upon Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang or Martin Odegaard; the former is in hospital after contracting malaria and the latter failed to make it back from injury in time.

Hence, Arteta only made one change from the side that beat Sheffield United in the Premier League at the weekend. Emile Smith Rowe came in for Gabriel Martinelli.

Slavia started the game on the front foot, with Petr Sevcik arriving at the edge of the box and firing a shot wide.

But Arsenal quickly grew into the game and thought they got their crucial away goal soon after.

Bukayo Saka had a go from outside the box, which the keeper pushed away. However, it rebounded off the post and into the path of Smith Rowe for a tap in.

However, after a VAR check, the goal was ruled out for an offside. Hence, they were back to square one and had to chase another goal.

And it barely took them any time to get it. Smith Rowe weaved in between some defenders and slid in Nicolas Pepe. The Ivory Coast winger took it wide as he closed in on goal and tucked it away.

Almost immediately after that, Arsenal were awarded a penalty when Saka went down in the box.

Alexandre Lacazette took it and sent the keeper the wrong way, giving Arsenal control of the tie.

Then it became three, when Saka cut in from the right wing and cut the ball in at the near post. The Gunners were on a mission and had put broad daylight between themselves and their opponents within a matter of moments.

Lead increases in second half

Slavia had to find a way to respond and showed some signs of fight when Peter Oladeji Olayinka set up Alexander Bah with a back-heel. However, his teammate blazed it over the bar.

Nicolae Stanciu then saw a shot blocked in a crowded box by Thomas Partey.

Arsenal went in at the break with a significant advantage but still had to make sure of the result after the break.

They were under less pressure to create as many chances in the second half, so there were understandably fewer forays forward.

But they still got a chance to add to their scoreline when Lacazette made space for himself and finished at the nearpost to make it 4-0.

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Substitute Gabriel Martinelli then made a chance for himself but put his shot wide. Ultimately, there was to be no further addition to the scoreline, as Arsenal had already got the job done.

Meanwhile, former Gunners manager Unai Emery guided Villarreal to victory over Dinamo Zagreb in one of the other quarter-finals.

It means Emery will come up against his former employers in what promises to be an intriguing semi-final.


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