Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta points to the sideline during the Premier League match against Liverpool at the Emirates Stadium
– Credit: PA
Mikel Arteta called his children “a joy to see” when Arsenal Slavia brought Prague to the Europa League semi-finals for the third time in four years.
Academics Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka both played for the Gunners when they shocked the hosts with a good first-half performance, scoring three goals in six minutes en route to a 4-0 win that night.
Smith Rowe had ruled out a VAR goal for offside before Nicolas Pepe opened the gate. Alexandre Lacazette converted a penalty after Saka was fouled before the England international added the third himself.
Lacazette would strike again in a more shy second half, beating Arsenal 5-1 overall and in a round of 16 against the former head coach Unai Emery and his side from Villarreal.
It was Emery who made their Arsenal debuts during his 18-month tenure as successors to Arsene Wenger.
The pair broke has now become an integral part of Arteta’s squad and the Spaniard was delighted with their performance.
“It’s a pleasure to see them play, to see them in training every day,” said Arteta as he did was asked about the achievements of Saka and Smith Rowe.
“How they behave, what passion and commitment they have for the club. And how much do they like to play football.
” You have to a and give them specific frameworks in which to work and some ideas on how to use their qualities. Then it’s up to them and I thought they were both really good today.
“We thank (all) the players for how they approached the game and how brave they were in their approach.
” We were brave, we were efficient, we put a lot of pressure on them. And in the final third we were really clinical.
After wasting a ton of good chances in the first leg, Arteta demanded that his team be more clinical.
They got Sheffield United on Sunday with a comfortable 3-0 -Send victory in the Premier League, and with Smith Rowe as the only change for Gabriel Martinelli they had the same lead in Prague by less than 25 minutes.
Both results came without captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who was before the game announced on Instagram that he had contracted malaria last month while on international service with Gabon.
When asked about his absent skipper, Arteta replied: “We have just spoken to him. He is at home, he is fine good. He had two days in the hospital to get the right treatment but is fine now.
“We’ll see how he recovers. I think it will take him a few days to recover from this, but he wants to be back as soon as possible. That’s what he said to me.
“When he wasn’t involved against Sheffield two days earlier, he wasn’t feeling well, but nobody could have expected that to be the case.
” They still have some tests done and there it came and immediately the doctor realized very quickly what to do and they did a great job. He’s safe and feeling good. “
After Aubameyang went missing, Lacazette took on the lead role as the central striker and with his brace he has scored seven goals in the last nine games.
The French striker, who was wearing the armband also made an impression before kick-off and took his knee in front of the entire Slavia line-up to defend himself against racism.
Slavia had to do without Ondrej Kudela. The defender scored on the evening before the game with a 10 – UEFA ban after being found guilty of racist abuse of Rangers midfielder Glen Kamara in the round of 16.
When asked about the gesture, Arteta said his players had asked permission to take a stand.
“You had the right reasons, so the club was very supportive. I was supportive and thankfully the referee and UEFA supported them. I think it was a good gesture.
“You came to me, you wanted to take this initiative. We spoke to the club to make sure we could follow the UEFA rules and get it right.” / p> “We took this approach, which I really like from the players, and I have to say that UEFA has been very helpful as well.
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