Perspective Needed For Prague! By Dan Smith
I’m the first to point out the flaws in this Arsenal team, but I do think some Gooners are making the second leg of the Europa League into something it isn’t.
It’s natural to be disappointed by a stoppage time equaliser and it’s fair to criticise the players finishing. Yet the way some fans are speaking you would think we now have to win at the Nou Camp to advance to the next round.
To clarify we have to beat Slavia Prague to reach a Europa League Semi Final.
Once the disappointment of the first leg subsides, our task for Thursday becomes straight forward.
If someone offered you this scenario at the start of the season, Xmas or even a month ago, you would have bitten their hand off.
The Czech Champions deserve respect and not to be taken lightly, but if your honestly saying you consider this a tough tie for a European Quarter Final, then we have hit rock bottom.
I see through some of our supporters. They are trying to make our opponents out to be a great team to excuse us if we are knocked out, or if we advance, they will crow what an amazing achievement it was.
It is real simple, player for player the Gunners are a better team.
Take the emotion out of it, if the 2nd leg’s pattern of play follows the first, we should win. They will again park the bus; we will again have most possession.
If I was Arteta I’d approach the match with a target of scoring two goals. Do that and they need to score 3.
Our biggest danger is having one of those days where we can’t put the ball in the net. Put it this way, IF we score, we will qualify.
Some point to the fact of Slavia Prague being unbeaten domestically. That stat works if you go up to someone in the street who doesn’t watch Football.
The truth is their level of weekly competition can’t be a measurement for this stage. If we can’t beat them over two legs that’s unacceptable, period, and would put a lot of question marks against our manager.
Put it like this, when Spurs lost to Dinamo Zagreb, I don’t remember anyone saying ‘they are Top of the Croatian League so therefore it’s a tough draw.’
No, being top of a League with poor standard doesn’t mean anything. Sheffield United would walk the Czech League.
That’s why when Celtic were going unbeaten in Scotland, they still lost to anyone average or above in UEFA competition. Simply because beating Hamilton 4 times a year doesn’t prepare you for Europe.
Don’t get me wrong, eventually the pressure of having to win this tournament will be our undoing. We haven’t got the leaders to cope, hence why we had scares against Benfica and Olympiakos, but just got over the line.
We couldn’t beat Villarreal, or Man United, Roma or Ajax in our current shape but we should be beating Slavia Prague.
Don’t let anyone tell you differently!
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