Soccer

Arsenal only have themselves to blame for conceding late Slavia Prague equaliser, says Mikel Arteta

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta lamented his side’s poor game management as they conceded a 93rd-minute equaliser to draw 1-1 with Slavia Prague in their Europa League quarter-final first leg.

The Gunners looked to have secured a slender lead to take into the return leg in Prague next week but ceded control of the tie when Tomas Holes bundled in a corner right at the end to give the Czechs an away goal.

On a night where Arsenal wasted a number of clear chances, substitute Pepe had given the hosts the breakthrough with a clever finish five minutes from time.

“The game was under control. We got the goal that we wanted – and we missed some big, big chances as well,” Arteta told BT Sport.

“But then later we played two or three passes in certain areas that we shouldn’t do and we put ourselves on the back foot.

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“We conceded the corner and they put a lot of bodies into the box, and from there anything can happen. It changes a lot the feeling after the game.”

Arteta had made six changes to the side that were beaten so comfortably by Liverpool on Saturday. Two of them were enforced due to injuries to Kieran Tierney and Martin Odegaard but Arteta made a big call in dropping captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to the bench, alongside Pepe.

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Buyako Saka and Emile Smith Rowe came into the side following their spells out due to injury, with the former impressing in particular in the first half.

But when Arsenal ran out of steam in the second half, Arteta turned to Aubameyang and Pepe in the 78th minute in a triple substitution along with Mohamed Elneny that seemed to change the game in Arsenal’s favour.

“We knew we had the possibility with the five subs. It was the right moment to do it. They had a big impact,” Arteta said. “Unfortunately we didn’t capitalise at the end for the result that we want.”

Slavia Prague had beaten British opposition in Leicester City and Rangers in reaching the quarter-finals and Arteta admitted they caused his side problems with their defensive shape in the first half.

“They’re a really good opponent. They’ve beaten some good teams and they are really difficult to play against,” he added.

“We need to win the game. We need to score. We know that, we’ve done it in the past, and I’m sure we’ll be able to do it again.”

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