Arsenal cruised into the Europa League semifinals after thrashing Slavia Prague 4-0 on Thursday. Mikel Arteta was full of praise for Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe, after the duo put in an inspiring display.
The North London club got off to a terrific start and kept creating openings. After having a goal disallowed, it all came together for the visitors. In a seven-minute burst, they scored three times which decisively swung the tie.
Both Saka and Smith-Rowe had a part to play, as the former scored one and the latter assisted Nicolas Pepe. Alexander Lacazette also got in on the act with a penalty and then added another late into the game.
The energy and drive of the English duo allowed the Gunners to control proceedings. Both of them were pressing and harrying the opposition which led to turnovers that the visitors could benefit from. Their skill on the ball was key to building attacks. When Arteta was asked about his thoughts on the duo, he told the official club website:
“For me, it’s a joy to watch them play and to watch them every day in training. How they behave, the passion and the commitment they have for the club and how much they love to play football.
“You have to let them express themselves and you have to give them certain room to work, and some ideas of how they can exploit their qualities. Then it’s up to them. I thought both of them were really good today.”
Mikel Arteta would have been pretty nervous going into the game after their mediocre performance in the first leg. However, his team came out all guns blazing and put the tie to bed in the first 25 minutes. Saka and Smith-Rowe powered the attack, helping Pepe and Lacazette exert their influence on the game. What could have been a tricky game ended up being a walk in the park.
The young duo have become an important part of the team and will once again be looking to make an impression in the semi-finals. Arsenal play so much better with Saka and Smith-Rowe in the playing eleven. The maturity they show at such a young age is proof of the talent they possess. There is still some way to go in this season and it won’t be a surprise if we see them making headlines once again.
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