10 Things To Know About Arsenal v Slavia Prague
To get us in the mood for our biggest game of the season I thought I do a preview in the form of a list.
Player for Player we are better than Slavia Prague, and if our attitude is correct this should be a kind draw. Don’t get me wrong, we are not a good enough team to take anyone lightly but beating Slavia Prague over two legs is not a bad ask to get to a semi-Final.
Here are 10 things worth considering for Thursday ……
10 – Who Are Slavia Prague?
They are the Czech Republic’s second most successful side. Since the country’s independence in 1993 they have been Champions on 6 occasions. Their colours red and white represent heart and blood, their 5-point star stands for ‘new hope’.
9 – Ownership
It’s not a coincidence that since CEFC brought the club they won their first title in 6 years and are now being more competitive at European Level.
Sinobi Group is a Chinese real estate company who saved the club on and off the pitch from debts of 112 million in 2015.
8 – Former Players
If your old enough to remember the late 90’s, early 2000, you might remember Vladimir Smicer, Karel Poborsky and Patrick Berger playing in England.
Most recently West Ham gave them 19 million for Thomas Soucek.
7- Their record in Europe
To give you an idea what kind of adventure this is for Slavia Prague, they have only ever been to one European semi-Final, the 1996 UEFA Cup.
This is only their 4th quarter Final in the UEFA/Europa League.
Only twice have they been in the Champions League group stages.
Their Champions League record outside of qualifiers is one win out of 8.
So you could make the argument that knocking Arsenal out and getting to the last 4 of the Europa would be their biggest achievement in Europe.
6- They Have Played Arsenal Twice
Ironically when they qualified for the Champions League proper for the first time, the Gunners were in their group. In 2007 we beat them 7-0 (our biggest European win at the Emirates) but then strangely only two weeks later were held 0-0 by the same opposition.
5- Rarely Win In Britain
You will know en route to the last 8 Slavia won at both Leicester and Rangers. That’s even more special when you consider that before this season they had never won in Britain before. They have lost at Saint Mirren, Hearts, Leeds, Spurs, Chelsea and Arsenal.
4- Record Against English
To give you an idea of how special the win at Leicester was, their only other win against an English side since 1976 was at home to Leeds in 2000 (lost over two legs).
Their overall record against English opponents reads W 2, D 3, L 8.
3- Our record against the Czechs
As well as that 7-0 win I already mentioned, we have beaten Slavia’s rivals Sparta the 6 times we faced them in UEFA competition.
So our 0-0 draw in 2007 is the only game out of 8 we didn’t win against Czech opposition.
2- Unbeaten Domestically
Unlike us, Slavia Prague are not used to that feeling of losing. Not just are they top of their of Czech First League by 14 points, they are yet to lose after 25 games.
While the level of competition Is not on the same level as playing the Gunners, this is still a group of players who will arrive with that winning feeling. If like me, you believe confidence and a strong mentality is crucial in sport then that could be vital.
1 – We Have To Win
I made this point in previous rounds and hopefully will in future ones.
Arsenal have to win this cup to rescue their season. The moment they are knocked out they will go down as the worst Arsenal squad in decades.
It’s not just the prestige of returning to the Champions League, but the squad will be acutely aware of the financial implications of zero European Football.
Due to Covid we have gone a year without match day revenue, meaning players took a pay cut and 55 staff were made redundant. So it would be the worst period in our history to suddenly miss out on the income that being in Europe brings.
That’s a lot of pressure to handle and I’m not sure we have enough leaders to handle it?
Slavia meanwhile know they will be in the Champions League qualifying rounds next season, so have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
I’m predicting a 4-1 win.
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