Frustrating is the first word that comes to mind after watching Arsenal dominate, score and then concede minutes from time and the 1-1 scoreline gives Slavia Prague the advantage with their away goal going into the second leg next week.
The Gunners didn’t put the pressure on from the off, but when they started to get control of the ball more confidently, the movement into the final third happened regularly and the likes of Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith-Rowe bursting down the wings and putting the crosses in were making the Arsenal side look threatening, but for the majority of the game, that end product was not there and it’s become a constant issue this season.
Arsenal’s first chance of the game came when Alexandre Lacazette was able to play the ball in behind to Bukayo Saka, who found himself one-on-one with goalkeeper Ondrej Kolar. Unfortunately, a sliding challenge prevented him from putting his chance away.
The visitors’ had a chance to score through Lukas Provod from just outside the box, but the midfielder’s effort went over the bar.
Some brilliant build-up play soon after resulted in Lacazette receiving the ball from Thomas Partey, but the striker found his shot going wide of the post.
Saka’s attempt not long after from a tight angle down the right-hand side after running in behind Rob Holding also went wide and the Gunner’s were struggling to find the back of the net despite the constant pressure in the box.
Slavia Prague’s first shot on target came 10 minutes before the break came from Peter Olayinka, but his powerless effort from just on the edge of the box was safely gathered by Bernd Leno.
Arsenal’s last shot on goal before the break came from a Lacazette free-kick which had been blocked, but Cedric did well to recover the ball and his cross was met by Holding who rose above the Slavia players in the box, but unfortunately, his header was tipped over the bar.
The second half was all to play for and Arsenal came out with a bang when Willian’s free-kick clattered the outside of the post.
Leno’s first proper test came when Jan Boril’s powerful shot was heading towards the goal but Leno denied the left-back the first goal of the game.
The pace of the game changed when Mikel Arteta brought on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Gabriel Martinelli and Nicolas Pepe on in a triple substitute, with some beautiful link-up play going forward creating more flow in Arsenal’s movement.
Possibly the most frustrating point in the game for all Arsenal fans was when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s pass found Lacazette one-on-one with a perfect opportunity to put the home side 1-0 but his timing and positioning of the ball found his curling effort hit the bar and not the back of the net.
Soon after, Lacazette found himself trying to put away Saka’s cross just in front of the goal but the tight angle proved difficult for the Frenchman.
The chances kept coming for Arsenal until the 86th minute, when substitute Pepe, under immense pressure to keep the ball and run with it dinked the ball over the keeper in the box and put the Gunners ahead in the game. The assist came from Aubameyang who held the ball up well and played it in for Pepe to chase.
The game wasn’t over yet as the visitors continued to pile on the pressure and Arsenal continued to create chances.
Arsenal’s problems came to haunt them in added time following on from a magnificent save from Leno. Slavia Prague’s corner came into the box, with the ball bouncing of Pepe’s shins, allowing defender Tomas Holes to header the ball into the back of the net from close range and level the score, giving Slavia Prague the advantage for their home game next week.
Lots of positives and negatives to take from this game, here’s what I thought…
- so many chances and only one goal
Something that has become an increasing problem this season with Arsenal, is the number of chances created compared to the amounts of goals scored. Arsenal will comfortably dominate a game, getting into the box comfortably and creating chances in the final third, but the ball won’t find the back of the net very frequently.
Saka and Lacazette were the two main players who missed the biggest opportunities, with the latter missing two big chances, one in which he was one-on-one with the keeper and was almost sure he had scored before he misjudged his curling effort which hit the bar.
Overall, Arsenal had eleven shots on goal with only two of them being on target. Compare this to Slavia Prague’s four shots on target out of seven shots and it makes you realise that when they were able to get the ball up the pitch, they were more precise with their attempts on goal.
One of the biggest difference in stats between the two teams is crosses, where Arsenal comfortably beat Slavia Prague 25 to five. Eight of Arsenal’s crosses were accurate, but it shows that we are threatening going forward and we can get our crosses in the box, sometimes they just lack players in the box or the positioning of a player isn’t always right to execute the pass.
As Arsenal have the disadvantage going into the second leg, taking every chance is what they need to do to ensure they get the best result away from home.
Arsenal also play six bottom half of the table teams out of their eight remaining fixtures in the league, so to prove to people that they can take their chances against what should be the ‘easier’ sides, Mikel Arteta needs to make sure they have the right composure and mentality in front of goal in order to put their shots away more frequently.