Arsenal grabbed what felt like a defeat from the jaws of victory yet again, playing out a 1-1 draw against Slavia Prague on Thursday. The result sets up an intriguing second leg of the UEFA Europa League quarterfinal, with the Czech side in possession of a crucial away goal scored in injury time.
The first half was a fairly drab affair with limited opportunities for both sides. Bukayo Saka ought to have given Arsenal the lead after running clean through but shot well wide of the goal.
The young English winger was Arsenal's only threat as he created a few dangerous situations with some excellent crosses. However, Slavia Prague held firm and went into the break with a 0-0 scoreline.
Willian nearly gave the Gunners the lead in the 49th minute, striking the post from a free-kick.
Arsenal really ought to have scored the opener after Alexandre Lacazette robbed Oscar Dorley of the ball in the middle of the park. The Frenchman ran clean through on goal but saw his chip over keeper Ondrej Kolar cannon off the crossbar.
Slavia Prague came close in the 76th minute, with Petr Sevcik dragging his shot wide after Cedric's clearance fell at his feet in the box. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang nearly scored with his first touch, guiding a cross from Emile Smith-Rowe wide.
Arsenal finally got their goal in the 86th minute, with Nicolas Pepe latching onto Aubameyang's through-ball and dinking the ball over Kolar into the bottom corner. Slavia Prague weren't done though, and Tomas Holes stole in at the far post from a corner to score a crucial away goal for his side in injury time.
On that note, here are the major talking points from the game:
#1 Arsenal's defence proves to be their undoing yet again
Mikel Arteta has now overseen 14 games without a clean sheet for Arsenal in all competitions. Yet, Slavia Prague were barely a threat for the Gunners backline on Thursday.
It points to a deeper malaise within the Arsenal squad as the defensive setup seems to work for a majority of games, only for the Gunners to go to sleep at vital moments.
That was the case once again on Thursday, as Cedric's pass to Gabriel resulted in a panicked clearance that went out from the corner.
The Portuguese defender, who had a great performance on the night, was culpable once more as Tomas Holes beat him at the far post to score.
Mikel Arteta does not seem to have any answers for the manner in which his side concede, and patience seems to be running out amongst the Arsenal faithful.
#2 Slavia Prague prove their credentials once more
Slavia Prague may have grabbed all the headlines for the wrong reasons against Rangers in their previous knockout tie, but the Czech side were on the right side of history this time.
Jindrich Trpisovsky has been dubbed the 'Czech Klopp' for his insistence on a high-pressing style of play. Despite notable absences in defence, the Slavia boss stuck to his guns. Arsenal did catch out Slavia a number of times, but the Czech side continued their high-octane press.
Even after conceding a late goal, most sides would have let their heads fall. There's a reason this side is unbeaten in 22 consecutive games. They pressed well into injury time, forced a corner and scored from it. Some would call it the traits of champions.