Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal find it difficult to enter the Champions League through the Europa League after losing a surprising 1-1 at the Emirates against Slavia Prague. Willian and Lacazette finished off the post in the second half and, after seeing their effort rewarded with Nicolas Pépé’s goal in 86 ‘, the’ gunners’ let themselves be drawn in extremis in a corner.
Odegaard, absent and Ceballos, substitute
Without Martin Odegaard due to ankle discomfort and with Dani Ceballos on the bench until 89 ‘, Arsenal took a long time to come into play and impose their dominance against a Slavia Prague more dangerous in the first phase of the match as a slightly high shot from Lukas Provod (14 ‘).
It was Bukayo Saka who, supported by Héctor Bellerín, activated Arsenal with his internships on the right wing. In one of them the first clear opportunity for the ‘gunners’ came. The young Englishman broke the offside on a pass from Rob Holding and stood alone against goalkeeper Ondrej Kolar, but crossed his shot too far (29 ‘).
Arsenal increase the pressure
Peter Olayinka put Bernd Leno to the test with a centered shot that posed no problems for him (36 ‘), but then Arsenal had already pressed the accelerator and were in control of the situation. Only a providential hand from Kolar, who played with a mask, prevented him from going to half-time with an advantage by slapping for a corner a header from Holding, to the center of Cédric Soares, who slipped along the crossbar (39 ‘).
Willian, to the post
As soon as the game resumed, Willian hit a free-kick off the post (49 ‘). Arsenal, always with Saka as the great reference of their game, came out plugged in and determined to win, although Slavia did not limit themselves to defending and whenever they could they looked out to attack.
Thus, Jan Boril put the heart in a fist to the ‘gunners’ with a shot that deflected Bellerín and was about to surprise Leno, who took the ball with his right foot (58 ’).
Lacazette, to the crossbar
Arsenal were not daunted and had a very clear opportunity to open the scoring when Alexandre Lacazette, until then very off, headed alone towards the Czech goal after a defensive error but, with everything in favor, he hurried so much that he placed the ball in it square (62 ‘).
Slavia also had their best chance shortly afterwards through Petr Sevcik, who was hit by a defensive rebound and his shot went wide next to the post (77 ‘).
Arteta changes the attack and Pépé scores
Arteta moved the bench changing the attack. He first entered Gabriel Martinelli for Willian (73 ‘) and then Nicolas Pépé for Saka and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for Lacazette (78’). The Basque coach was right.
Aubameyang and Martinelli narrowly missed a goal but Pépé did score after receiving from Aubameyang and escaping for speed on the right before passing Kolar by poking the ball with an exquisite touch (86 ‘).
Holes tie in plate in the discount
Arsenal did the most difficult but Slavia, always involved in the game, did not resign. Already in discount, Leno avoided the tie by deflecting a whip from Provod to the post. However, in the ensuing corner, central Tomas Holes equalized by heading a ball that fell to the far post.
Arsenal: Leno; Bellerín, Holding, Gabriel Magalhães, Cédric Soares; Thomas Partey (Elneny, 77 ‘), Xhaka; Saka (Pépé, 77 ‘),
Smith-Rowe (Ceballos, 88 ‘), Willian (Martinelli, 73’); Lacazette (Aubameyang, 77 ‘)
Slavia Prague: Kolar; Bah, Zima, Holes, Boril; Dorley (Kuchta, 69 ‘), Stanciu (Masopust, 84’), Hromada (Sevcík, 46 ‘), Provod, Olayinka (Ibrahim Traoré, 86’); Sima (Lingr, 69 ‘)
Goals: 1-0 Pépé (86 ‘), 1-1 Holes (93’)
Referee: Andreas Ekberg (Sweden). YELLOW: Zima (48 ‘)
Stadium: Behind closed doors at the Emirates