Late Slavia Prague equaliser ‘leaves a difficult taste’ for Arsenal boss Arteta

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta says he was left with a ‘difficult taste’ after the Gunners slipped to a 1-1 draw in the Europa League on Thursday night at the Emirates, visitors Slavia Prague snatching a draw in the 93rd minute to leave the tie well and truly open ahead of next week’s second leg.

Following the Gunners dismal 3-0 defeat to Liverpool at the weekend, Arteta unsurprisingly made six changes for the clash with the Czech side, with the likes of Nicolas Pepe, Dani Ceballos and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang all dropping to the bench.

Those alterations seemed to do the trick for the north London side in the first-half, the return of Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe, in particular, providing a much-needed spark to the hosts, as they took control of the opening exchanges.

Despite largely controlling the first period, Arsenal failed to truly trouble Ondrej Kolar in the Slavia net, with the best chance of the half falling to defender Rob Holding, the Englishman seeing his header tipped over the crossbar.

The home side then had a glorious chance to take the lead 15 minutes after the interval, with Alexandre Lacazette bursting clear through on goal, yet the Frenchman inexplicably managed to strike the post with only the keeper to beat.

Arteta’s men then did take a deserved lead with less than five minutes to play, Aubameyang teeing up fellow substitute Pepe, the Ivorian dinking the ball beautifully over the onrushing Kolar for his fourth goal in the competition this season.

That late effort looked set to be the winner for the hosts, only for them to see Tomas Holes popping up with a header at the back post in the 93rd minute to snatch a draw for Jindrich Trpisovsky’s side.

That agonising late equaliser has left the tie firmly in the balance ahead of next week’s second leg, with Arteta admitting that his side had the game ‘under control’ before slipping to that late equaliser.

“The game was under control. We got the goal we wanted but we missed some big chances as well,” he told BT Sport. “We played two or three balls we shouldn’t do and we put ourselves on the back foot and conceded the corner. They put bodies in there and it can happen. It changes the feeling after the game.

“We know that we had the possibility to change things with five substitutes. We thought it was the right time for the set-up we had. It was the right moment and they had a big impact. We know the subs have a lot to say in this competition. Unfortunately, we didn’t capitalise on it.

“It’s difficult because they were a good opponent. They have beaten some big teams and are really difficult to play against. They have a lot of man-to-man situations and you have to resolve them. When we did that, we created chances, but when you can’t, it’s not easy.

“We were effective in our high press – they had the capacity to run in transition if they won the ball back but we controlled that well. It’s more about the final result that leaves a difficult taste.”

With the second-leg set to take place in just a week’s time, the Spaniard revealed that his side’s objective is clear.

“We need to win the game. The mindset is to win the game, we need to score, we’ve done it before and we need to do it again.”

Arsenal are next in action against bottom side Sheffield United on Sunday in the Premier League.

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See also – Champions League Team of the Week

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