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Arsenal still backed to qualify despite Slavia Prague draw

By on April 12, 2021

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Arsenal will be looking to extend our 2020-21 UEFA Europa League campaign on Thursday night when we’re in Prague for the second leg of our quarter-final tie.

It appeared Nicolas Pepe had won us the first leg late on last week with a fine finish with less than five minutes remaining. But we switched off defensively in stoppage time as Slavia Prague scored an away goal to draw 1-1 at the Emirates.

That put us on a four-game run without a win before Sunday’s 3-0 thrashing away to Sheffield United in the Premier League. An Alexandre Lacazette brace will have boosted his confidence for the week ahead.

We’re still heavily fancied to progress to the final four with the top online casinos and sportsbooks alike, with odds of 2/5 to qualify, and 5/6 to win in 90 minutes.

Slavia Prague have the away goal advantage heading into the tie at the Sinobo Stadium. They are also unbeaten at home in this season’s competition, getting out of the group stage with a 100% win record at home. However, they have since been held at home by both Leicester City and Rangers in their two knockout rounds. Both of those were the first leg, before they won 2-0 in each of the second legs.

Our Round of 32 tie was much closer – beating Benfica in the 87th minute before a more comfortable victory over Olympiacos to get to the quarter-finals.

We weren’t too dominant in the first leg last week either, with 54% possession, and only winning the shot count 11 to 10. Alexandre Lacazette and Thomas Partey both missed decent chances before substitute Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang setup Pepe to give us an 86th minute lead.

Winning the Europa League is our only real opportunity to qualify for next season’s Champions League so we can expect Mikel Arteta to throw all his eggs into one basket with this one. We’re still second favourites to lift the trophy but some fans would rather bet their money on online casino games than back this inconsistent Arsenal team.

Only five outfield players and Bernd Leno started our last two games over the past week, and I wouldn’t expect too many changes from the first leg for our trip to the Czech capital this Thursday either.

Cedric Soares was rested at Bramall Lane and should come back into the left-back role in place of the injured Kieran Tierney. Granit Xhaka had started there over the weekend but should move back into his central midfield role for the Europa League tie.

It would be good to see Gabriel Martinelli in the starting lineup after scoring over the weekend, and in place of Willian, who simply has not performed for us. Aubameyang’s performance off the bench last week also puts him in contention for starting down the left. The 31-year-old hasn’t started since our 0-3 loss at home to Liverpool to start the month.

We can understand why we’re clear favourites to progress from this tie but given our recent run of form I expect a much closer tie.

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