The Gunners endured a mixed performance in the first leg at the Emirates, starting brightly only to concede a late goal that gave the visitors a priceless draw.
The result from the first leg means the stakes will be higher when Arsenal visit the Sinobo Stadium on Thursday. Mikel Arteta’s men have been wobbling in the Premier League, and the Europa League now presents their most realistic chance of ending the season with silverware.
It’s fair to say the team has not progressed much since winning the FA Cup last season. However, it would be considered a hugely successful season if Arsenal win the Europa League.
Arsenal yearn for redemption
It has been a mixed season for Arsenal as they are way off the mark in the Premier League.
The Gunners currently occupy ninth place in the league table and do not only risk missing out on a top-four finish but also Europa League qualification.
Arsenal's form in recent weeks also paints a very bleak picture. They have won just once in their last five matches in all competitions, but there were positives from their last game – a 4-0 win against Sheffield United.
While the Blades are no mean opposition and are at the bottom of the Premier League, the Gunners played with verve and showed the attacking fluidity that has been missing from their team for a while.
This is a team yearning for redemption, and that means they must go all out against Slavia Prague on Thursday.
Arsenal’s biggest game of the season
With the Premier League out of their hands and their top-four chances almost gone, Arsenal have no choice but to put all their eggs in one basket, which is the Europa League.
The second leg against Slavia Prague will be their biggest game of the season, as it could determine how they end the campaign and which competitions they will feature in next season.
Arteta said in his pre-match press conference (as quoted by Sky Sports):
"The only tangible thing is results. Whether you are doing a good job or not, externally you are only going to be judged with results.”
"Internally, you know what you are doing and you can have many different ways to judge. But in the end, results are the only important thing externally, to have the perception that we are moving in the right direction."
Indeed, results are the only thing that matters for Arsenal at the moment, and they have to do it the hard way, against a Slavia Prague side that hasn’t lost a game in 2021.
The Europa League is the perfect opportunity to win a trophy and secure a ticket to next season’s Champions League. This makes Thursday’s game a must-win for Arsenal and the most important fixture of their season thus far.