Arsenal 1 - Slavia Prague 1

 Arsenal gave away a crucial away goal in the must win Europa League Quarter-Final first leg at home this evening.

The Gunners, whose league form has been either hot or cold this season continued their inconsistent display with a wasteful and ultimately, a costly performance at the Emirates. Mikel Arteta, who served for years as Pep Guardiola's right hand man, must be scratching his head wondering what else he can do to motivate the players. On the plus side, Guardiola himself once said 'I don't what more I can do with these players' before going on to become a Manchester legend.


The Teams


Arsenal: 

Leno, Bellerin, Holding, Gabriel, Soares, Partey, Xhaka, Saka, Smith Rowe, Willian and Lacazette


Slavia Prague:


Kolar, Bah, Holes, Zima, Boril, Stanciu, Hromada, Provod, Dorley, Sima, Oladeji Olayinka




Why Did Arsenal Choose This Team?


After the worst performance(arguably) under Arteta in losing 3-0 at home to Liverpool on the weekend, Arsenal left out Aubameyang and Pepe, three players accused of being a 'little mafia' in order to change fortunes.

With a front four of Willian, Lacazette, Saka and Smith-Rowe, Arsenal looked to put emotional aggression from youth ahead of all out experience. This policy should have resulted in several goals to the Gunners in the first half..but didn't due to again, wasteful finishing.

In fact, Arsenal looked to be drawing a blank well into the last 10 minutes, until the benched players were given a chance to redeem themselves by replacing their replacements.

This wasn't altogether successful as Aubameyang missed a side footed opportunity that he should have scored, Martinelli fired over the bar, and it was only when Pepe ran through before dinking home, a goal he was famed for but has so few times shown at Arsenal, that any kind of Premier League finishing was evident.

So, when only four minutes to go, the London club looked to hold on for a vital home win, when Arteta brought on Ceballos to make sure of things.

Slavia Prague though, had other ideas. And, once again Arsenal's error riddled defence brought pressure on the club to salvage anything from this season to allow Holes to head in an equaliser...and vital away goal.

Some feel that Arteta made substitutions at the wrong time. In reality, you can make them at any time you like, but if you make errors as Arsenal do so regularly, you will never win..under any circumstances. The harsh fact is that barring a massive change of fortune, Arsenal's season looks dead and buried, given that the local UK team will play away to a team that not only has a clear advantage, but the record that says that a loss is unlikely...against any opposition.


What Now For Arteta?


Given that Arsenal are pretty much going to be licking their wounds now until next season begins, what is next for Arsenal manager Arteta?

Previously, it could be argued that Arsenal had a lot of dead wood in Ozil, Mustafi, and Guendouzzi. However, Arteta has made quite a few changes with less success than previously.

Whilst it appears that Arteta is an experienced tactician whose acumen far exceeds his time in charge, his inability to motivate the players is a worry.

Will the club retain confidence in one of the most talented young managers and risk another lost season next year? Or, will Arsenal cut their losses and go for experience? Given the financial restraints imposed by Covid-19, the more likely scenario is that the Gunners will allow Arteta another year. However, without the funds that his guru Guardiola secured, nothing changes if nothing changes.

Keeping Arteta is the right choice. However, Football is not all about the right choice, it is more often about the more profitable choice. With that in mind, it would be good to see Arteta in charge next season, but don't count on it!

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