Arsenal played the home leg of the Europa League quarter-final against Slavia Prague last night, but yet again we were let down by our strikers not being able to put the ball in the back of the net as usual.
But Arteta did change his forward line, but Saka, Smith-Rowe, Willian and Lacazette couldn’t muster one shot on target between them, and we only scored when Aubameyang, Martinelli and Pepe were brought on for the last ten minutes. Other than Pepe’s goal, the only other player with a shot on target in the whole game was Rob Holding!
So it was no surprise that Mikel Arteta had to face the press once again and rue the chances we missed that could have given us a healthy lead to take to Prague next week. “What was missing is that when you create big chances in Europe, you have to take them.” he told Arsenal.com. “I think we merited much more than the result that we got. When we made the most difficult thing, which was to score the first goal and just wait for the last four or five minutes and manage the game much better than we did, we failed to do that and then we gave them the opportunity in the corner and they scored the goal to tie the match and [put us] in a different position. Looking back to what happened on the pitch, it’s not what we expect.”
Yet again, we have been creating the chances but not finishing them, but Arteta refused to ccomplain about the players spirit. They were certainly better than they were against Liverpool at the weekend. “I think the players stepped in and have [given] absolutely everything. It’s a really difficult opponent to play against with the amount of individual duels and man-to-man situations they create and we managed that really well in certain moments. We were much more aggressive today, and ambitious to play the game we wanted to play and we created some big chances.”
But despite only drawing and giving away an away goal, Arteta is still confident we can go on and reach the semi finals by winning in Prague next week. “I totally believe we can go there and win the match, or I wouldn’t be sitting here. The mindset has to be to go there and score goals and win the game, because we need to score if we want to go through.”
Let’s all hope that Arteta has all his forwards taking shooting practise all week before the next leg, they should get a few chances against Sheffield United at the weekend.
We could certainly do with a boost to our confidence right now…