Friday, September 22, 2023

Report: Slavia Prague 0-4 Arsenal (Gunners win 5-1 on aggregate)

Result: Slavia Prague 0-4 Arsenal
Competition: Europa League
Date: 15 April 2021
Venue: Sinobo Stadium, Prague

Arsenal: Leno, Chambers, Holding, Mari, Xhaka, Ceballos, Partey, Saka, Smith Rowe, Pepe, Lacazette

Subs: Ryan, Hillson, Bellerin, Gabriel, Willian, Cedric, Nelson, Elneny, Nketiah, Martinelli, Balogun, Azeez

Arsenal will face Unai Emery’s Villarreal in the Europa League semi-finals after a first half goal blitz despatched Slavia Prague 4-0 in the Czech capital to secure a 5-1 aggregate win. 

Nicolas Pepe and Bukayo Saka produced fine finishes on either side of Alex Lacazette’s penalty as the Gunners showed a ruthlessness before the break sorely lacking in the first leg. The Frenchman put a gloss on proceedings in the closing stages, hammering home his second with a low left foot drive. 

Mikel Arteta’s quest to secure Champions League football will continue in two weeks time when we travel to the Estadio de la Ceramica to face our former head coach whose Yellow Submarines beat Dinamo Zagreb. 


Encouraged by Sunday’s 3-0 win at Sheffield United, Mikel Arteta only made one change from the team that started at Bramall Lane. Emile Smith Rowe came back into the side as the number 10 meaning Gabriel Martinelli retreated to the bench. It meant Bukayo Saka shuffled to the right flank with Nicolas Pepe, who scored in the last leg, on the left. For the second game in a row, Granit Xhaka started at left-back. Martin Odegaard and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang stayed back in London due to an ankle problem and illness respectively. Folarin Balogun, on the verge of signing a new deal, took up a place on the bench alongside Miguel Azeez.

First Half

The game began at a breakneck speed with the home side, cheered by 750 raucous fans, eager to start on the front foot. They look confident and rightly so given they’d not lost at home in 30-games; a run stretching back to 2019.

We looked comfortable enough but we didn’t exactly produce anything of note. That was until the 15th minute when a quick break saw Smith Rowe feed Saka who steered onto his left foot and curled a beauty of an effort that keeper Kolar tipped onto the post. Smith Rowe was alert and tucked home the rebound with aplomb. As the celebrations died down it became apparent that VAR was reviewing the situation. After an age, the goal was ruled out for offside. Boo. Hiss.

Arteta beckoned his players to keep their heads up and with the next attack, we did break the deadlock. Lacazette, played in by Chambers, flicked the ball to Smith Rowe who produced not one but two nutmegs on the way to finding Pepe. Under pressure, the Ivorian stayed on his feet before lifting the ball into the roof of the net. It was a thing of beauty. (1-0)

We were in the mood to do damage. Again we broke forward. Within a minute, Saka was left in a heap in the box. Penalty. No doubt. Lacazette put the ball on the spot and sent the keeper the wrong way. Just like that, we were in control. (2-0)

To make absolutely sure of things, we bagged a quick-fire third. Partey, Smith Rowe pand Chambers were involved before Saka bombed up the putch, cut onto his left foot again and this time, fooling the keeper, unleashed a low drive that fizzed inside the near post. (3-0)

Set the task of scoring four goals to progress, Slavia were completely shellshocked. Pacing the touchline, their head coach, Jindrich Trpisovsky, looked particularly pained. It was genuinely hilarious.

While we weren’t asked too many questions at the back. When we were, we fielded them decisively. Pablo Mari blocked a shot by Stanciu but Leno didn’t need his gloves. All in all, it was a pretty perfect 45 minutes from the Gunners.

Second Half

Slavia made four changes at the break as they attempted to mount a miracle comeback but they didn’t exactly come at us all guns blazing. There was lots of side-to-side football and the occasional patient manoeuvre into our final third but Holding and Pablo Mari were on hand to tidy up anything in our box. 

For the men in blue, keeping the ball and staying out of trouble was the priority. A Ceballos reaction to an off the ball challenge provoked a few handbags and earned Slavia’s Olayinka a booking but it was, as we wanted it to be, a largely muted affair. 

We didn’t look hugely interested in adding to the scoreline but when Nicolas Pepe produced a tricky dart down the left flank and picked out Lacazette, the striker obviously felt it rude not to have a dig. He took a touch to control the ball onto his left foot and drilled home hard. As he finished celebrating, he was hooked off for a breather. (4-0)

Substitute Martinelli was very unlucky not to add to the scoreline when his curler whipped just past the post. To end a fine night for his side, Arteta sent on Folarin Balogun for a few moments to celebrate his impending contract renewal. 

All in all, a thrillingly decisive performance. Our hopes of securing Champions League football remain alive. Well done, boys. 

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Lots better than expected. Hope we can keep that up and at least heat Emery to get into the final. Another clean sheet!

Johnny 4 Hats

Flamini LB – Road to Paris

Xhaka LB – Road to Gdansk

This means almost nothing and is barely an observation.


Just hope Tiernry isn’t back for the final then!

Tomaury Bischfeld

We need Tierney Henry, just hope Lenoman doesn’t get sent off.

Reality check

Don’t want the same end though

Johnny 4 Hats

Saka just gave Bergkamp a shout out!

Bob's Mexican Cousin

Gdansk? Sounds like a typo

Var Will Solve The Problem

Slavia Pra-ha-ha-ha!


Pablo Mari! What a calm and composed player. Him and Holding have been racking up the clean sheets when they play together.


My friend just observe the clean sheets from the duo.

Giuseppe Hovno

Am I right that whenever Mari has played, we have never lost unless it’s been against Man City? He’s quickly becoming my fav cb

Reality check

Mari is also a very vocal and hands on leader. He’s also not as slow as he looks..


I wonder if we had given Pepe a fraction of the faith that was awarded to Willian since the beginning of the season, if Arsenal would be higher up the table.


Best comment here.


I’m glad he’s doing better, but I honestly believe Pepe is just a roadblock for Martinelli. He doesnt have the control of smith-rowe or the intelligence of Saka or the industry of Martinelli.

I may get red-thumbed off a cliff, but I would sell him.


This was nice. We should do this more often.

Johnny 4 Hats

My hair started turning black again in that second half…


Usually I’m trying to avoid having multiple heart attacks but today I nearly fell asleep after the break.
What a pleasent change of scenery.


Team looks better balanced and less predictable with Pepe from the left.

Johnny 4 Hats

I feel like Auba from the left just shouldn’t be a thing anymore. He’s lost the yard of pace and the cut inside is so predictable. With dynamic wingers we look so much more dangerous.


Hopefully Arteta recognizes that as well. Auba through the center could work pretty well with wingers. Laca is just so hit or miss


Based on this season, and the interplay with Smith-Rowe and Saka, I’d keep Laca ahead of Auba. That said, we have not seen enough of Auba in the center with those same players -Laca just seems to offer more with his flicks and combinations.


I realize most fans are pretty down on Auba at this point, BUT.
Auba has consistently been a 25-30 goal striker. Those are extremely difficult to find & while he hasn’t had a great year, we haven’t exactly played to his strengths either. Laca is a 10 – 15 goal striker. Some games he’s great, other games he offers virtually nothing (Sp*ds for instance).


Lacca 17 goals plus more this season


When people talk about striker’s goals they almost always are referring to league goals. Laca consistently scores 10-15 PL goals a year – he’s actually slightly worse than Giroud.

Thierry Bergkamp (non negotiable)

4 seasons to get 50 league goals is a poor return for an established striker like Laca



On the right path?

Smith Rowe in that 10 role… brings the team to life

No foot Norbert

Auba isn’t great up top I prefer him on the left but the team has to accommodate the shift. Last season we played a slightly different system which allowed auba to come central more from the wing which he excels at. Up top on his own he has no hold up, can’t really beat a man and isn’t great at interplay.


Feel like people got a little carried away with Odegaard and forgot how good ESR is in that 10 role. Different players and if we can keep Odegaard I’d love to but if we can’t we have another great 10 already

Truly amazed by the passage of play we saw tonight. That was a blitz. I am so proud of the fighting spirit and finesse I’ve seen from the young guns in this game. Slavia have some really loud fans but I’m glad we were able to shut them up in intervals That ESR assist for Pepe’s goal was truly wonderful. It would be nice to see these kind of performances more often from this team. I am definitely grateful for Emery (and Ljunberg) for bringing through many of our youth players last season but seriously… I really hope we don’t… Read more »


After hearing a million times how Slavia haven’t lost at home in a year and a half, followed by hearing a million times how they’ve only conceded 5 goals at home in the last 30 games, it made it even sweeter to beat them 4-0 at their place

Reality check

Racist pr!cks.. All our scorers were black, fitting and poetic


We’re not exactly out of the woods in this country though.


Well, they only conceded 9 goals in their last 31 home games…

Tomaury Bischfeld

You f-ing (great) guy(s). If you tell me they didn’t play well, that’s a disgusting accusation.

Good game, can’t get enough of Saka and Smith Rowe. One small gripe about the subs – why wait so long to put them on when the game was over? Why only give Balogun 3 minutes? Anyway, bring on Villareal!


F Romano just annonced a 4 year extension for our very own Balogun, today was a good day

Hank Scorpio

Would like to have seen Balogun, Azeez and maybe Nelson on at 3-0 but not to be. Hopefully they can get some game time in the remaining league games.


Great result but fuck me Arteta is shite at subs! Could have rested Saka and co a bit earlier and given the subs a few more minutes to build confidence. First half was sublime though. Emery next

Johnny 4 Hats

You have to remember the old Europa cliche though – It’s not over until the tattooed skinhead does a Nazi salute.


I am pretty sure with all the instructions that he shouts, he totally forgets that he has subs as well.


Oh my God!!!! Really????


Yes really. The opposition changed half their team at half time, clearly the game was over. Trust me I’m dead happy with the result and performance on the pitch, our game management just needs improvement.

Bossman Bill

Prettyyyyyy, prettttyyyyyy, pretttyyyyyy, pretty good.

Reality check

Saka can completely bamboozle an opponents.. what a beast

Guns Up

Surely we can stay unanimously positive here after THAT!! Well done, boys. More of the same against Villarreal please. COYG

SB Still

Villarreal playing like Arsenal under Emery. Arsenal blowing hot and cold.

Interesting match-up.

Let’s do it. Arteta as we know has a good cup record.


Slavia played horribly today, probably the worst match of the season. Slept through the first 30 minutes. Arsenal was great today, let’s win this trophy and get that CL qualification!

Reality check

They started well but were put to sleep by 3 blitzing Arsenal blows.


Slavia did their best. Arsenal were just too good for them! There was no where to run for slavia. Give me more of this Mikel


Makeshift defense and tired legs made it easier for Arsenal. Not denying Arsenal’s performance, they were a joy to watch. Only hoping for not so one-sided match next time.
Maybe in the CL next year!


I would rather win this EL trophy playing against a string of teams like Sheffield United. History remembers the victors, not how they won it.


Oh my beautiful Arsenal. Great to see you again. Where have you been all season?


We are too good for Europa League, but not good enough for Champions League. There has to be a league in between, just for us!


Agreed, we should call it the “Premier League” and try to win it next season!

Nainsley Aitland Miles

The Emirates Cup.

SB Still

A league just for us, we’ll win it every time except when we arsenal it!

So, pleased with the win though, was expecting my life expectancy to take a hit but pleasantly surprised.


But we went out last season and were well beaten in the final the season before that.
Not sure what your basing this on?


I’d say making it to the semis three time out of the last four is a pretty good record. No other team has done it. Apart from Sevilla years ago.


FA Cup League


MA looks to have hit on a winning formula with almost the same team from the Sheffield game. Two clean sheets in a row as a bonus. Well done all.

Reality check

Smith Rowe seem to be a big step up from Willian. Not one of the Willian haters but yeh, thats how it seems

On the right path?

Smith Rowe is awesome… when he plays central he lifts all the players around him…. incredible player. Incredible.

Reality check

His left footed touches are not very noticeable but absolutely crucial to his directness..


10 out of 10 for everyone. Ruthless, efficient, brilliant. Please do this more often.


3 goals in 6 minutes.


Wow! You’ve got to feel pity for slavia a little bit. Some of the bashment they faced was just beyond their pay grade. Knocked by the jab you save for Spurs!!!! Onto the next one. Thank you Arsenal


Andrew pls note, if any player is rated less than 10 today, this website will be brought down…😁


What a display! Saka, Smith Rowe, Pepe, Laca, great performances all round. Keep the momentum up by beating Fulham at the weekend. Wow that was fun to watch!


Great stuff, much much better. It just goes to show what this collection of players are actually capable of when they can be bothered to break a sweat and actually play for the shirt and each other. The commitment, pace and energy levels were an absolute joy to behold. I said after last week’s lethargic performance that it appeared that Arteta had lost the dressing room. Well tonight anyway, he has galvanised the squad and I would love for him to go on and prove me wrong for the rest of the season. Let’s enjoy tonight and hope the lads… Read more »


That’s more like it!

We turned up and bossed it from the beginning. It looks like everyone knew that this was win or bust: the competition is our season now. Great performance from the entire team. Let’s see off Emery in the semis then United in the final.

Great night!


Roma in the final


Can I make a confession? I turned over after 60 minutes and watched the Roma v Ajax game. It was the only game on the night still with jeopardy. They were both awful. United will see off Roma no problem. But I fancy us against United: our recent record against them is very good.


Miki and dzeko to see them off


Even better when Roma send them home after a series of hilarious incidents involving own-goals, red cards, and empty net misses.


Sorry MO but I have my favourite no. 10 already.

Interesting that in this new 433-ish setting we could see both of them in front of Partey.


Really happy we got through, and an interesting game against Emery’s Villareal incoming.

Why can’t we play like this always? is so frustrating, but happy nevertheless


Willy Vs Coq.. the stand off awaits

Give youth a chance

I had to miss about 5 minutes of the first half. Need I say more?

Chippy Brady

Chambers and Partey defensively were top notch. I absolutely love the trio of Pepe, ESR and Saka behind Laca. There’s so much dynamism and unpredictability. Personally I would have given Martinelli 25 mins upfront at the end and withdrawn Laca earlier but hey, small gripes. Beat Villarreal and United and someway, somehow we are back where we belong in the Champions League. COME ON YOU ARSENAL!!!

Goodly morning

Chambers is very composed on the ball. A real asset with his versatility as well.

Chippy Brady

I agree, underrated player.


Goals goals goals goals


I haven’t slept for 25 hrs now just to make sure that I didn’t miss this match but it’s been well worth it…Congrats to Arteta and the team.

Nostalgic Gooner

Happy for Pepe and Lacazette. Since Mustafi left, they’ve become the lightning rods for criticism. So the critics will stay quiet. For a few days at least

Baichung Bhutia

We seemed to have left the shot gun at home. What a superb performance, we didnt give them an inch. Love this trio of Pepe, Saka and ESR with Odegaard and Martinelli as replacements.

Petit's Handbag

Take that you racist pricks!!!

Brazilian gooner

Pepe’s finishing is really something isn’t it? Most of the players would put that ball straight into the keeper’s chest


Ice cool finish tonight. He waited and timed his finish to perfection. That’s not the first time he’s done that either – he reminds me of Michael Thomas, who also used to pick his moments to finish when HE chose them.

Timorous Me

It was quite a brilliant little move (to go along with the brilliant setup by Smith-Rowe). He seems much more poised and in control and dynamic on the left. It’s interesting.

I was really hoping he’d be played there today (though I was thinking with the right-footed Cedric behind him) and he certainly didn’t disappoint!


What a win boys this gives me true confidence. I was truly worried this season would end badly but I hope I’m mistaken. The boys will be motivated to play against their former coach and have our scored teams 7-0 in our last 2 games. Every single leg it seems like Arsenal is about to go out, but they don’t. We can win this thing COYG


A few days ago we looked frozen stiff in posession against Liverpool. Tonight, on the front foot with no inhibitions. It’s all the mind. MA needs to hire a hipnotist.


Eventually, a routine win. COYG>


Is it just me or did our midfield just die after Thomas got pulled?

I don’t remember a single time afterwards when the ball progressed forwards through Xhaka-Ceballos-Elneny rather than around them or over them.

It’s not like they had a ton of control or won the ball back quickly, either.

Not to be negative after a good game, but we really need to improve on these guys.


We did a couple of times, but that change wasn’t just like for like, we changed system a bit when partey came off.


Well, Xhaka moved into midfield and Cedric to LB. I think Ceballos was the highest one up but, frankly, our midfield was far too formless for me to figure out if he was supposed to be a 10 or if we were playing without one (which is what I would assume).

The team was still mostly okay, but I thought it was pretty funny our midfield seemed to just give up in the last ten minutes.




Good and critical win to keep our hopes this season alive. And now we face off with Unai next. But credit to gaffer today. He put out an odd team sheet which may have flumoxed his opposite side somewhat, looke dlike a 3 at the back and 2 up top (Laca /Pepe) instead it was Pepe left, Saka right and ESR thru the middle. Xhaka deployed as make shift Lback/quarterback again And we had lots of quick movement wide (particularly with Saka right side) as they may have packed into the middle to counter our advertised line up. We did… Read more »


I was worried when the goal was disallowed and momentarily thought it wouldn’t be our night. Fortunately, I didn’t have to wait long for that feeling to subside. What a great performance.

Coming back to the goal that was ruled out. ESR looks to be completely onside from this angle.


Why they didnt give any replay on that?

Goodly morning

Goodly morning all. Well played. Be good to see this eleven in the Premier League games now.

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