A goalless draw will not be enough. The defeat will be so catastrophic, it is not a matter of thinking.
The success of Arsenal’s season is at stake and Mikel Arteta knows that there should be any chance to progress to the Europa League semi-finals against Slavia Prague.
A number of questions arose about the selection of Arteeta’s team at 1–1 draw in the first leg and he put his side to reach the game.
Once Taweez forward Pierre-Emerick Aubemayang started the match on the bench, but helped keep his side in action and scored on fellow-substitute Nicolas Pepe’s goal in the 86th minute.
However, the Gunners slipped their slim lead as Tomás Holls scored an important goal for the Czech club.
Arsenal returned from a draw with a 3–0 win at Sheffield United on Sunday, during which some players were in contention to start the second leg.
Arteta undoubtedly faces several important decisions before her trip to Slavia Prague. here, Mirror football Take a look at five of them.
Youth or experience on the left?
Arsenal fans were eager to give Gabriel Martinelli more opportunities in recent weeks, and Brazil made a rare start on Sunday.
The 19-year-old was in the right place at the right time to double the Gunners’ lead over the blade, ending his 15-month wait for a goal.
Even when he was not scoring, Martinell is a refreshing force in Arsenal’s attack with his directness and electric speed.
In contrast, Aubameyang has drawn criticism for his attitude this season and, as noted, found himself on the bench for the first leg.
Willian was handed a start on the left flank that day, but warranted little to retain his place for the second leg, meaning it could be a shootout between Aubameyang and Martinelli for the opening role on Thursday.
As it happens, Artema’s decision may be for him, with Aubameyang still in doubt for the second leg as he continues to recover from the illness that kept him out over the weekend.
On the other flak is another important puzzle for Arteta.
Nicolas Pepe came off the bench last week to score against Slavia Prague and gave Martinelli the chance to score against the Blades.
But it is becoming clear that Pepe’s berth on the flap is also Bukayo Saka’s best position, with the 19-year-old providing a constant supply of goals and lining up on the right wing.
To get around this, Arteta named Pepe on the right and Saka in the No. 10 role against Sheffield United, and Arsenal were largely dominant on the front foot.
The Gunners boss may choose to do so again for the second leg, though that would mean there is no place in the side for Emil Smith Rowe, who has started Arsenal’s final two Europa League fixtures.
Continue to use Xhaka?
Artita raised eyebrows by playing natural midfielder Granit Zhaka on the left for a trip to Sheffield United.
News of Kieran Tierney’s season-ending injury has left the Spaniard with a dilemma on the left side of the defense, where there is no recognized back-up.
Cedric Soares played there in the first leg, although he is right-footed, while Arreta is clearly set to lose by threatening him to field in the back field of Saka.
Xhaka was fairly solid at left-back against Sheffield United – although the Premier League stragglers did not pose much of a threat – Arteta would likely want to return him to midfield against Slavia Prague.
The Switzerland International offers Arsenal a good degree of control in the center of the park which could prove crucial with the quarter-final tie hanging in the balance.
Arsenal must strike a good balance between attacking the threat and keeping things solid in the second phase.
With Slavia away from Prague’s goal, the Gunners must score to progress – and the longer the visitors wait for a goal, the more nerves will start to kick.
But Arteta cannot afford to leave his side even against a team that knocked out Ranger and Leicester.
Slavia Prague showed that they could be a powerful attacking force with just one fewer shot (10) than Arsenal in the first leg and four shots on target compared to two of their hosts.
Who is the partner?
There is another team selection dilemma for Arteta at center-back, in which he must choose who Rob Holding is a partner.
The Englishman – a trusted performer for Arsenal this season – is back in the line-up following David Luiz’s knee injury and has recently been partnered by Pablo Mari and Gabriel in fixtures.
Gabriel was impressive in the first half of the season, but some cracks began to appear as he had a nightmare against Liverpool at the start of the month.
Brazil started the first leg, while fellow left-hander Mari converted them to XI for a trip to Sheffield United.
And the fact that Arsenal kept a clean sheet in Bramall Lane could break the balance in Mari’s favor for the second leg.
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