Arsenal face a tough test in the Europa League on Thursday night as they host Slavia Prague in the quarter-final, first leg. The Czech side have already knocked out both Leicester City and Rangers to reach the last eight, while the Gunners made their way past Benfica and Olympiacos to reach this stage.
Mikel Arteta would have been hoping his side had turned a corner of sorts after recording four wins in five games up until the middle of March, but since then it is three without a win for Arsenal and their weekend home defeat to Liverpool saw them put in a largely abject performance. The manager’s tactics have been questioned by some and Arteta himself has acknowledged that an improvement is of paramount importance if the Gunners have any ambitions to win the Europa League.
Quite aside from their exploits in knocking British sides out of Europe, Slavia have been flying domestically and are 14 points clear at the top of the table, unbeaten in their league season. Follow all the action live below in the Europa League tonight.
FIVE MINUTES TO GO
We’ve already been treated to two fantastic nights of football this week – and now it’s the Europa League’s turn. The teams are out at the Emirates.
Jamie Braidwood8 April 2021 19:56
THOUGHTS FROM ARTETA
Here’s Mikel Arteta on the decision to drop Aubameyang: “We had to pick the right team to try and start the best possible way. We have the option to change the game with five subs. That’s a big thing and we want to use our squad in the best possible way.
“It’s a huge game for us. It’s a chance to reach the semi-finals of a European competition and we have to be at the highest level tonight to earn that right.”
Jamie Braidwood8 April 2021 19:47
ROUTE TO THE FINAL
A reminder of tonight’s other ties:
- Granada vs Manchester United
- Ajax vs Roma
- Dinamo Zagreb vs Villarreal
The winners of Arsenal/Slavia will face either Dinamo/Villareal in the semi-finals.
Jamie Braidwood8 April 2021 19:45
Slavia are without Ondrej Kudela tonight after the defender was given a provisional one match suspension by Uefa, who on Tuesday opened proceedings against him. Kudela is accused of racially abusing Rangers’ Glen Kamara in the win at Ibrox last month, which Kudela denies. Kamara is a former Arsenal youth team player.
Jamie Braidwood8 April 2021 19:30
Arsenal have welcomed Slavia Prague to the Emirates before. They beat the Czechs 7-0 in the group stages of the 2007/08 Champions League, with Cesc Fabregas, Alexander Hleb, Nicklas Bendtner and a fresh-faced Theo Walcott among the scorers.
Jamie Braidwood8 April 2021 19:21
CAN SLAVIA CONTINUE BRITISH RUN?
The visitors dispatched British opposition in Leicester and Rangers on their way to progressing to the last eight. They knocked out Brendan Rodgers’ side thanks to an impressive 2-0 win at the King Power, before winning by the same score-line at Ibrox in defeating the Scottish champions last month.
Jamie Braidwood8 April 2021 19:16
HOW ARSENAL GOT HERE
Arsenal reached the quarter-finals thanks to knockout wins over Benfica and Olympiacos, but it was close on both occasions. Arteta’s side won both ties by just one goal, and they lost their last Europa League match at the Emirates 1-0 to Olympiacos last month. Arsenal are the top scorers in this season’s Europa League with 27 goals from 10 games – with 16 different scorers in the competition so far.
Jamie Braidwood8 April 2021 19:10
ONE HOUR TO KO
The Gunners won’t have it easy tonight. Slavia did lose two group games away from home, but with mixed teams and once after they were already through, while they beat both Leicester and Rangers in the away leg.
Can Arsenal fare better than the Foxes, who are a massive 14 points better off than them in the Premier League table?
Karl Matchett8 April 2021 19:02
BIG CALL FROM ARTETA
It’s clear what the big talking point is ahead of tonight’s game: Mikel Arteta’s decision to drop captain Pierre Emerick Aubameyang.
The striker started all four of Arsenal’s games in the previous two rounds of the Europa League, but was substituted in the Gunners’ 3-0 defeat to Liverpool on Saturday.
Given how lifeless Arsenal were, it’s not a surprise to see Buyako Saka and Emile Smith Rowe come straight back into the team now they’ve returned from injury, but the call to drop Aubameyang was always going to catch the eye.
We’ll see how it plays out. Dani Ceballos, Nicolas Pepe and Calum Chambers also drop out from the team that started against Liverpool, while Martin Odegaard and Kieran Tierney are injured.
Jamie Braidwood8 April 2021 18:59
ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW
Form, injuries, odds and TV channel – all you need to know about the game right here.
Karl Matchett8 April 2021 18:50