Arsenal took on Slavia Prague in the Europa League quarter-finals last week and the Premier League side were the favourites to win this first leg.
But quite surprisingly, the Gunners were held to a 1-1 draw in this game thereby putting their European campaign in real jeopardy. And the only way Arsenal are expected to get back into the Champions League next season is by winning the Europa League.
Arsenal have lost 12 and drawn six games in the Premier League so far this season and a significant reason for so many dropped points is because they have not been able to kill off games. The draw against Slavia Prague was the perfect example where Arsenal tried to hold onto a slender lead but the visiting side managed to score a 93rd minute equaliser.
And according to manager Mikel Arteta, this problem stems from the fact that his players are not being able to close off games at will, thereby allowing their opponents a chance to make a comeback.
Arteta told the press while talking about failing to convert so many chances: “It’s clear why[lacking the killer instincts] but it’s how to avoid it while it’s happening, or preventing it from happening. That’s a different story. In a large amount of games we haven’t managed to do that for different reasons. Last night was a clear example.
“As you mentioned in the Europa League, you’re not going to create 15 clear chances. We created four or five really big chances and we have to put them in the net.
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“Then you have some margin for things to happen in the 94th minute where you can concede a set-piece. It can happen. But what cannot happen is the way we managed the last four or five minutes.
“Last night’s game was crucial for us to not concede and we gave away a set-piece at the end of the match. It’s not the amount of chances we are conceding at all, it’s the way we are conceding the goals that is pretty clear. It’s the biggest part that we have to improve on defensively.”
Before the second leg vs Slavia Prague, Arsenal will face Sheffield United in the Premier League on Sunday and this game should help the manager choose the players who are likely to start next Thursday.
Players like Auba and Lacazette have been in pretty average form in the past couple of months and this is a big reason why Arsenal have not been able to find the back off the net consistently. Some think, dropping them to the bench will be a sensible idea but the big problem for the manager is that his backups(like Pepe and Willian) have not been at the top of their game either.