Sunday, April 18, 2021

Prediction: Arsenal vs Slavia Prague

Verdict: Both teams to score

Best Odds: 10/11

Bookmaker: Unibet

Looking to end their recent blip and pick up an early advantage on Thursday night, Arsenal will welcome Slavia Prague to an empty Emirates for their Europa League first-leg.

Arsenal

Starting with the hosts, coming under real scrutiny for their display on home soil over the weekend, Arsenal find themselves in the midst of another blip. Failing to build off of their three-goal turnaround at London rivals West Ham when heading into March’s international break, The Gunners were blown away thanks to a 3-0 drumming against Liverpool on Saturday night. With it appearing that the pressure is once again mounting on Mikel Arteta’s shoulders, they were also last seen on Europa League duties getting hit with a shock 1-0 defeat against Olympiakos at The Emirates. Despite eventually managing to claw their way past the Greek giants last month, Pep Guardiola’s former right-hand man will have a real headache over his side’s continued issues at the back. Shipping a trio of strikes in back-to-back matchups against West Ham and Liverpool, Thursday’s hosts have remarkably failed to record a single clean sheet in any of their last 13 fixtures across all formats, a run that stems all the way back to the end of January.

Team News

Kieran Tierney has been ruled out of both legs after suffering a knee injury, and could get remain on the sidelines for longer. David Luiz has undergone surgery and is also set for a spell out.

Emile Smith Rowe, Granit Xhaka, Bukayo Saka will all be assessed.

Slavia Prague

As for the visitors, while an altered Slavia Prague squad might have been disappointed to have only played out a 0-0 stalemate against relegation scrappers Zbrojovka Brno over the weekend, the Czech giants have shocked many across Europe this season. Appearing to romp their way to another domestic crown this year and still holding a commanding 14-point buffer at the top of the table, Jindřich Trpišovský’s side are enjoying an extended 21-match unbeaten run across all formats, a run that stems all the way back to December 10th. Eventually booking their showdown in North London on Thursday night thanks to what was a hugely controversial 3-1 aggregate victory against Scottish champions Rangers, Slavia also left Leicester stunned as they knocked The Foxes out of this year’s tournament back in February. Smelling what is another chance to pick up what would be a famous scalp in midweek, it could be worth keeping an eye out for leading marksman, Nicolae Stanciu. Including finding the net at Ibrox, the 27-year-old has eight goals in his last seven contests.

Team News

Slavia Prague’s Ondrej Kudela has been banned for one game following his involvement in a racism row during the win over Rangers last month.

Defenders Simon Deli and David Hovorka will both miss out in North London this week.

Key Factors to Consider

    • This is the first meeting between Thursday’s opponents since they last met back in 2007.
    • Along with shipping three goals in back-to-back matchups, Arsenal have failed to record a clean sheet in their previous 13 fixtures.
    • In their last two Europa League contests, Slavia Praha have knocked out both Leicester and Rangers.
    • Including finding the net at Ibrox, Nicolae Stanciu eight goals in his last seven contests across all formats.
    • Six of Arsenal’s last eight matchups across all formats have finished with over 2.5 goals.

    Conclusion

    While Arsenal might open Thursday’s meeting as a standout pick with the bookmakers, The Gunners could face another stern test on home soil. Hit with that 3-0 drumming at the hands of Liverpool last time out and coming under real scrutiny, Mikel Arteta’s side find themselves in the midst of another blip. Shipping a trio of strikes in back-to-back contests on either side of the international break, Arsenal have shown a host of issues at the back. Without a clean sheet to their name since the end of January, Slavia Prague might be smelling a chance to cause another shock upset. Coming past both Rangers and Champions League chasers Leicester in the previous rounds, the Czech outfit have impressed many across Europe. In a contest that could prove to be a lively affair in North London, we’re backing both teams to find the net at The Emirates.

    Verdict: Both teams to score

    Best Odds: 10/11

    Bookmaker: Unibet

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Tom Dunstan


    Formerly of The Independent, Tom is a freelance football and boxing journalist from Essex, England. Currently working for three online publications, Tom is a graduate of the University of Falmouth and has spent the last two years writing across Australia, New Zealand and Asia. He can be followed at @IamTomDunstan

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