Arsenal’s UEFA Europa League quarter-final first stage ended in disappointment, but despite the online meltdown, some called for Mikel Arteta to be fired and the general toxicity that seems to accompany every defeat – the Gunners still have a good chance of advancing to the last four.
It was an evening with missed chances and frustrating for the club’s faithful, it has been the story all too often this season.
Bukayo Saka rejected a guilt-ridden opportunity in the first half from which he shot and Alexandre Lacazette, despite competing through in goal with what seemed like all the time in the world, hit the crossbar.
They were not the only chances that Arteta will look back on with remorse, but after finally making the breakthrough four minutes from time via substitute Nicolas Pepe, Arsenal’s poor play management saw that they conceded an unnecessary corner from which Tomas Holes made the dreaded away goal for the guests.
The domestic performance this season has been unacceptable and as such, patience with the boss is generally thin.
It has undoubtedly contributed to the seismic reaction that followed Slavia’s leveling – but what did the boss actually do wrong last night?
When you set up a team that creates more than enough chances to win the game and for the most part, you defend effectively as a manager – have you certainly done your part? At what point are players held accountable for their inability to handle the game and inefficiency in front of goal?
Arteta’s biggest conversation on Thursday night was to leave his captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang out of the starting lineup and granted the 31-year-old made a positive impact when he was introduced as an aid to Pepe’s goal, but at a time when the game was stretched.
Nicolas Pepe finished brilliantly to place Arsenal ahead of Julian Finney / Getty Images
Jindrich Trpisovsky’s team played with a surprisingly high line and perhaps in retrospect the Gabonese forward would have been better suited to run behind, but regardless, Lacazette still had the chance to put Arsenal in full control of the tie.
The armchair managers will tell you something else and insist that the team was not set up correctly, completely gloss over the fact that many of these players are simply not good enough. That is the reality of the situation we are in but without the means to drastically review the squad immediately, what should Arteta do?
? “You will not have ten chances. When you have the big chances, you have to put them in the net.”
? See the full interview with the boss after tonight’s #UEL action?
– Arsenal (@Arsenal) April 8, 2021
To sell, you need to find someone who is willing to buy and at the right price – which we found out last summer is not always as easy as we want it to be. It would be great if our owners would open the checkbook and make a “Chelsea-like” investment in the squad under the next window, but the chances of that happening are zero.
Therefore, when people refer to the “process” it is not just a “buzzword” or “good PR”, they are referring to the exchange and upgrading of players that will forever disappoint us. Financial constraints make it a slow and painful process.
That’s the reality, as much as some may not want to believe it.
Despite Thursday night’s disappointment, it would be foolish to exclude Arsenal from moving on from this tie and the Europa League still represents an opportunity to save our season. There is plenty of football to play and it is probably a sensible thing to postpone the breakdowns, at least until next week.