Arsenal reached the Europa League semi-finals with a remarkable performance 4-0 victory against Slavia Prague in the Czech capital.
The clinical gunners took the lead when Nicolas Pepe stepped in at close range after Emile Smith Rowe’s tap-in was previously blocked by VAR. It went 1-0 to 3-0 in just six minutes as Alexandre Lacazette shot home from the penalty spot before Bukayo Saka’s fine finish ended the tie by just 24 minutes.
Lacazette later took a second in the 77th minute with a composed finish to score a nice win for Mikel Arteta’s side, who will now play in the semifinals against Villarreal and former boss Unai Emery.
It was a night that required a professional presentation and Arsenal delivered one, but they were forceful too, and when Arteta’s men found their groove they were unstoppable blowing their opponents away for a semifinal spot in style to back up.
The Gunners were without Pierre-Emerick Aubemeyang after the Gabonese international contracted malaria in international service, so best wishes to him. The visitors also took their foot off the gas after the break, but work was already done.
Manager rating of 10
7 – If you find any criticism of this Arsenal performance, please feel free to point it out to me. It was a fantastic performance by Gunners, who are only three games away from silver and secure an important place in the Champions League.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best, players introduced after 70 minutes are not rated)
GK Bernd Leno, 6 – Aside from one punch, he didn’t have a single save in a competition where the hosts were supposed to bring the fight to Arsenal, but instead recorded a single shot on goal.
DF Calum Chambers, 7- Almost a goal from Arsenal with a cross from the right that Emile Smith Rowe would definitely get close to. Still delighted with attacking success on the right when Slavia’s strikers couldn’t hold him back.
DF Rob Holding, 7 – He held onto his guns well to hold off an initial Slavia attack at break before the Gunners won a free kick to ease the pressure. In addition, he was rarely called.
DF Pablo Mari, 6 – Like Holding, he won some important challenges, but on a night as quiet as any he will ever have, he was never really overwhelmed.
DF Granite Xhaka, 7 – In the absence of Kieran Tierney, he was used again as a left-back. He showed a struggling yet disciplined performance as his team conceded a well-deserved goal.
Alexandre Lacazette scored a 4-0 win over Arsenal against Slavia Prague in the Czech capital for the second consecutive year. Stuart MacFarlane / Arsenal FC via Getty Images
MF Dani Ceballos, 7 – Nothing out of the ordinary this time after Sunday’s exquisite support, although his reaction to a slight push from Peter Olayinka was a bit overzealous. A pleasant night’s work and he cleaned up everything that broke loose in the middle.
MF Thomas Partey, 7 – Provides a lot of protection for the back four. He was lucky enough to avoid booking when he wiped out Lukas Provod at break, but he tried much better to block Nicolae Stancius’s clean strike towards the end of the first half.
MF Bukayo Saka, 9 – Switched from his preferred left side to the right side but boy did he enjoy it? He was only inches from a spectacular opener when he engaged a battering ram to stab the post, but another attack run moments later drew the foul that allowed Lacazette to double his side’s advantage. To end his night, he reached out for a well-deserved goal to bring the game to bed.
MF Emile Smith Rowe, 8- No Aubameyang, no Gabriel Martinelli, but it didn’t seem like a problem for the exuberant midfielder who was on hand to bundle up after Saka’s great hit on the wood home just for VAR to step in. Another excellent display.
MF Nicolas Pepe, 9 – Practically not playable. The winger was in the mood from the first whistle and helped put the immediate pressure his manager was looking for when his bruised pass was turned back for an early corner. His next chance ended in the roof of the net after another penetrating attack came forward.
FW Alexandre Lacazette, 10- You just can’t stop this man from scoring right now. You would always imagine the French international from 12 meters away, but his cool head was exactly what you needed on a looming night before kick-off. Scored Arsenal’s fourth goal in the second half for a well-deserved brace.
DF Cedric Soares, N / R – Replaced Thomas Partey in the 79th minute with the midfielder, who was saved for another day.
MF Mohamed Elneny, 6 – Came for Smith Rowe in the 67th minute with the formidable midfielder, unsurprisingly taking a well-deserved break.
MF Eddie Nketiah, N / R – Part of a triple change for the last 10 minutes or so.
FW Gabriel Martinelli, N / R – Up for the closing stages and nearly five, but he placed just behind the far post after an eye-catching run that saw the Slavia defenders bouncing around.
FW Folarin Balogun, N / R – He performed late after signing a contract extension earlier this week.