Holes in the Arsenal defense has been a recurring theme in recent years and it was hammered home to them in the most dramatic fashion last Thursday when Slavia Prague defender Tomas Holes' late header turned the Europa League quarter-final on its head. Nicolas Pepe's goal had seemingly absolved the Gunners of the string of wasted chances from earlier in the game but now they travel to the Czech Republic with their season hanging by a thread.
To retain their hopes of Champions League football in 2021-22 they must score and will be looking to do what only Inter Milan, Barcelona and Borussia Dortmund have managed since the start of the 2019-20 season: win at the Eden Arena. It is a tough task indeed but equally if Arsenal create the same volume of chances that they did last week they will be well placed to reach the semi-finals.
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Here is how you can watch the game and what you need to know:
- Date: Thursday, Apr. 15 | Time: 13 p.m. ET
- Location: Eden Arena -- Prague, Czech Republic
- TV and live stream: Paramount+
- Odds: Slavia Prague +360; Draw +250; Arsenal -125 (via William Hill Sportsbook)
Slavia Prague: A formidable home record underpins Slavia's attempts to reach the last four and having shown no willingness to change their style at the Emirates Stadium the Czech champions are certain to attack Arsenal from the off with their aggressive pressing and fearless challenges, even if that puts pressure on a defense that creaked on more than one occasion last week.
"We have a very promising result for the second leg and we have a chance to finish the job at home," said head coach Jindrich Trpisovsky. "Arsenal will have to score a goal, and we will have to avoid conceding goals like the one [in the first leg] following our own set piece. Our defensive display will have to be flawless."
Arsenal: Will Arsenal be able to make the most of their chances this time having frittered so many away in the first leg? It could certainly be harder without Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Martin Odegaard, both of whom were not pictured in training the day before the game as they battle with flu and an ankle injury respectively. Alexandre Lacazette will likely lead the line if the former misses out and the Frenchman has endured a mixed season in front of goal, missing two key chances against Slavia but responding with an excellent brace in a 3-0 win over Sheffield United.
Mikel Arteta will not be short of options surrounding his centre forward even if Odegaard is out. Pepe's goal in the first leg may bring him into contention whilst Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe are available having missed that match through injury. With Gabriel Martinelli having excelled in Sunday's win at Bramall Lane there are options for Arsenal in attack.
Arsenal rarely make it easier on themselves and Slavia Prague have proven throughout this competition that they are not to be taken for granted. However the Gunners should have just enough to scrape through to the semi-finals. PICK: Slavia Prague 1 Arsenal 2