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Mikel Arteta takes his Arsenal side to Slavia Prague on Thursday night, as their Europa League quarter-final fixture was set at 1-1 after the first leg.

Slavia continued their strong form at home, beating city rivals (and closest title challengers) Sparta Prague 2-0 last time. Jindrich Trpisovsky’s men remain unbeaten in the Czech Premier League and have a 17-point lead at the top – the chosen champions don’t really cover it.

The Gunners managed to come back to victory this weekend by securing their first victory in five games, beating Sheffield United 3-0 in the Premier League. Arteta’s side remain ten points off the top four in ninth place, with the Europa League increasingly seeking the only path to Champions League qualification.

So let’s take a look at a preview of this tight comeback quarter-final.

Slavia Praha - FC Barcelona: Group F - UEFA Champions League
The match will be played at the Eden Arena in Prague | Thomas Eisenhuth / Getty Images

When is it? Thursday March 15
Where is it? Eden Arena
What time is the kick-off? 8:00 p.m. (BST)
TV channel? BT Sport 1 (UK)
Who is the referee? Cuneyt Caki
Who is in VAR service? Mete Kalkavan

Center-backs David Hovorka and Simon Deli are expected to be left out, so Tomas Holes, who scored the UAE’s last tying goal, will again be a mid-defense substitute.

Main forwards Peter Olayinka and Abdallah Sima both missed the Prague derby this weekend but are expected to return to the starting XI on Thursday night.

Arteta has confirmed that Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe are both fit and ready to play against Slavia.

Bukayo Saka
Bukayo Saka was forced to leave against Sheffield United, but will return to fight against Slavia Prague | Pool / Getty Images

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Martin Odegaard, however, did not train on Tuesday and will face late fitness tests ahead of Thursday night’s shock.

Slavia Prague: Kolar; Bah, holes, winter, Boril; Hromada, Provod, Stanciu; Doley, Sima, Olayinka.

Arsenal: Leno; Bellerin, Holding, Gabriel, Cédric; Xhaka, Partey; Pepe, Smith Rowe, Saka; Lacazette.

Slavia Prague:

Slavia Prague 2-0 Sparta Prague – Czech Premier League (11/4)
Arsenal 0-0 Slavia Prague Europa League (8/4)
Brno 0-0 Slavia Prague Czech Premier League (4/4)
Slavia Prague 4-0 Opava – Czech Premier League (21/3)
Rangers 0-2 Slavia Prague Europa League (18/3)

Arsenal:

Sheffield United 0-3 Arsenal premier league (11/4)
Arsenal 1 – 1 Slavia Prague – Europa League (8/4)
Arsenal 0-3 Liverpool – premier league (3/4)
West Ham 3-3 Arsenal premier league (21/3)
Arsenal 0-1 Olympiacos – Europa League (18/3)

Like the first leg, this game will likely be hard-fought. Both sides will want to move on to the bottom four but, in Arsenal’s case, it’s more out of necessity.

The Gunners will now feel that the Europa League is the only way to play Champions League football in the next campaign, as Slavia have already practically confirmed the league title, with which they enter elite competition. European in the second qualifying round.

Arteta’s side are expected to enter the game with confidence, having secured a win last time around. With Lacazette finally shooting again and Pepe, Saka and Smith Rowe behind him, Arsenal will undoubtedly have the quality to create opportunities to secure a very important away goal.

With Arsenal likely to go all out looking for goals and Slavia trying to escape, leaving spaces at the back, we could see goals. It could be one of those European nights where the tie is decided by an extra away goal.

Prediction: Slavia Prague 2-2 Arsenal



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