Merson tips Arsenal to beat Slavia Prague but says they still need a long-term plan

Paul Merson says Arsenal will beat Slavia Prague to reach the semifinal of the Europa League tonight, but they need a long-term plan for success.

The Gunners will face the Czech Republic side hoping to make progress after a disappointing 1-1 draw in the first leg.

Mikel Arteta’s side could not keep their one-goal lead and allowed the visitors to find a way back into the game.

They will need to be on their best form to get something from the return leg considering that their hosts have already eliminated Leicester City and Rangers in the competition this season.

Merson says the game is big and admits that Arteta is forced to use the players at his disposal even though he didn’t sign most of them.

He says they should have finished the game in the first leg and recalled Alexandre Lacazette missing a sitter.

He then predicts that they would win this game, but they have to start making long-term plans now.

He writes on Sky Sports: “It is a big game (against Slavia in the Europa League quarter-final, second leg), but at the end of the day you can only play with the hand you are dealt. There are a lot of players who are there before he [Arteta] was there, and I feel for him in a way as they are so up and down.

“They should have finished the game against Slavia last week, the chances they missed and Alexandre Lacazette’s is an absolute sitter when he hit the bar, it is ridiculous.

“They are 10th in the league and this is Arsenal, let’s not forget. I would not say get rid of Arteta if they lost this game, though, not a chance.

“But I think they win this game, there is a lot of turning around there, but they have to start getting a plan, a five-year plan. This will not happen overnight, this needs to start now because at the moment they are relying on Bukayo Saka, who is their go-to man, and Emile Smith Rowe when he plays. And no disrespect, that should not be the case.”

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