The Gunners cruised through to the semi-finals to set up a reunion with former boss Unai Emery and Villarreal
Arsenal will meet former manager Unai Emery and his current side Villarreal in the Europa League semi-final after inflicting an emphatic 4-0 defeat on Slavia Prague.
The Gunners had the ball in the back of Slavia’s net four times in the opening 25 minutes, although the first of those efforts, converted by Emile Smith Rowe was disallowed for the tightest of offside calls.
A whirlwind of goals followed that near-miss, though, with goals from Nicolas Pepe, Alexandre Lacazette and Bukayo Saka in the space of six minutes giving Arsenal an unassailable aggregate lead.
Further gloss was added to the scoreline 13 minutes from the end when Lacazette struck again, this time from open play, to cap a perfect night for Mikel Arteta‘s team.
Here is how Arteta’s key performers rated on the night.
Emile Smith Rowe
Had Emile Smith Rowe enjoyed this sort of breakthrough at any other point over the past decade, there would be a clamour for him to be England’s wildcard at a major tournament. As it is, he is up against Phil Foden, Mason Mount, Jack Grealish, Jesse Lingard, Jude Bellingham and others for a seat on the plane.
Smith Rowe is on track to receive senior international recognition before long if he continues his development, though, regardless of the intense competition. The 20-year-old was unfortunate to have a goal ruled out but set up Pepe’s opener with a rarely seen double-nutmeg
An immense performance from a player who is making an extremely strong case for a role in England’s squad for the European Championship. Saka was immense from the first minute.
Still only 19, Saka is already one of Arsenal’s most important and decisive performers. It was Saka who was brought down for the penalty which doubled Arsenal’s advantage and it was Saka who put the game beyond Slavia with a low strike that oozed confidence and composure in equal measure.
Muscular injuries have threatened to halt Saka’s irrepressible progress, but fortunately, Arsenal’s healthy lead on the night ensured that Arteta had the luxury of taking him off early and resting those legs ahead of Sunday’s meeting with Fulham.
Since Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang joined the club in January 2018, Lacazette has always been the Robin, rather than Batman, to Arsenal’s attack.