The 2020/21 season is within the stability for Arsenal because the staff face Slavia Prague over the following two weeks. Many most likely thought-about the Europa League quarter-final draw beneficial however Slavia are to not be taken evenly.
The Czech champions arguably shouldn’t even be within the competitors after defender Ondrej Kudela was accused of racially abusing Rangers (and ex-Arsenal) midfielder Glenn Kamara within the earlier spherical, nevertheless it shouldn’t shock anybody to see Uefa barely performing in opposition to racism. Kudela is unlikely to play after struggling a nostril harm on worldwide obligation courtesy of Gareth Bale’s forearm.
That leaves a difficulty in defence, the place additional accidents imply a midfielder is more likely to transfer into the backline and the membership’s first selection goalkeeper is unlikely to play.
Nonetheless, Slavia have been dominant within the Czech league over the previous few seasons and aggressive in Europe as nicely. It isn’t their fault, in any case, that the Czech league isn’t stronger they usually can’t be underestimated after proving they will compete in continental competitions. They reached this stage earlier than dropping to Chelsea in 2019, drew with Barcelona (0-0) and Inter (1-1) of their Champions League group the next season (with West Ham duo Tomas Soucek and Vladimir Coufal), then beat Bayer Leverkusen (1-0) and Good (3-2, 3-1) on this season’s group stage earlier than knocking out Leicester (2-0 on mixture) and Rangers (3-1 on mixture) to fulfill Arsenal within the quarter-finals.
Forward of the quarter-finals, I watched each legs in opposition to Leicester to attempt to get an concept of how Slavia may strategy this one.
They lined up in a versatile 4-1-4-1 in opposition to Brendan Rodgers’ aspect with strict man-marking in midfield, and we will anticipate one thing related given Arsenal will line up with somebody (virtually undoubtedly Martin Odegaard) within the quantity 10 function.
How Slavia defend
Press construct up and look to win the ball excessive upfield. That is supposedly how they play within the Czech league they usually aren’t keen to bend in opposition to larger opposition. Leicester are third within the PL however they weren’t intimidated and regarded to play on the entrance foot, so we will anticipate the identical.
Leicester accomplished simply 307 passes within the away leg, their fewest in an EL sport this season and fewer than in 63 of their 68 Premier League matches because the begin of final season.
This wasn’t as a result of Slavia put a number of stress on the ball, however stress on gamers who might doubtlessly obtain possession from a team-mate. An excessive man-marking strategy in midfield noticed Leicester wrestle to seek out passing choices, with Slavia having their three-man midfield mirror Leicester’s all through the opening leg.
Leicester began in a 4-2-3-1, so Slavia’s two extra superior central midfielders picked up their reverse males. Extra fascinating, and instructive to how excessive the strategy was, was to see how intently James Maddison was tracked regardless of the place he went.
Simply have a look at how deep Maddison (Leicester’s quantity 10) has come for the ball under and been adopted by his marker.
Who then follows him again upfield to as soon as once more be the deepest midfielder seconds later.
The strategy is just like how Leeds defend and Arsenal moved the Yorkshire outfit round nicely with good and versatile motion within the not-too-distant previous.
One thing Leicester didn’t use sufficient within the first leg was motion from Maddison away from the centre of the park, dragging his marker with him and leaving area for one of many deeper midfielders to gather possession between the traces if and their marker left them to hitch an try and press greater upfield.
The centre-backs ought to have loads of time to select passes behind the traces and even drive into these areas. The midfield marking is so man-oriented, that certainly one of Arsenal’s centre-backs ought to virtually at all times be spare and have the time and area to drive ahead.
There ought to typically be a spare man in defence and they’ll have the area and time to drive and search for extra incisive passes. This is able to’ve been supreme for David Luiz however Gabriel also can do the job and should tackle that duty if he performs.
One other factor that may be efficient in opposition to this strategy is sharp motion on the flanks. Within the examples under the Leicester left midfielder (circled) comes central, dragging the Slavia right-back ahead and inside, giving area for the left-back to overlap into.
Clearly this may have been supreme for the best way Arsenal use Bukayo Saka or Emile Smith Rowe forward of Kieran Tierney, who will miss out by harm, however the sample ought to nonetheless be exploited regardless and can be utilized on the opposite flank too.
How Slavia assault
They’re comfortable to both construct up or go longer and the variance of their play makes them arduous to foretell. Gamers are consistently seen making runs past the backline to tug their markers with them and create areas for shorter passes. Left-winger Olayinka is a keen runner specifically, threatening behind the right-back typically in addition to drifting additional infield.
They typically look to construct up on the left of the pitch, seeking to appeal to as many gamers as doable to that aspect earlier than switching to the appropriate, the place 19-year-old Abdallah Sima and January signing Bah are direct.
Sima, who has 19 objectives in all competitions in his first season at skilled stage, is their largest menace.
Sima tries to maneuver in behind when the striker drops off and brought about Leicester some points along with his runs in behind. As goal man Jan Kuchta (circled within the pictures under) drops off and attracts a centre-back, Sima makes his transfer inside and Stanciu, the staff’s most technically gifted and inventive midfielder, is at all times seeking to launch him as shortly as doable.
If Sima will get the ball, he’s a objective menace, if he doesn’t, or not the place he can run onto it, he drags the opposition left-back throughout and leaves area for the aggressively positioned Bah to drive into.
The suitable-back seems to be an excellent participant and an actual menace from defence. Signed from a midtable Danish membership in January, he serves as a reminder that you just don’t have to focus completely on established gamers, that bargains are on the market, whereas bargains are on the market to be discovered to contribute in squad roles.
As for a way Slavia use him, look what number of gamers they collect on the left flank, the aspect they appear happier to construct up on, whereas Sima primarily positions himself as a striker to offer Bah as a lot area as doable.
Whoever Arteta performs on the left should be cautious of their obligation to trace again an attack-minded right-back.
Although they’re attack-minded, Slavia take precautions on the similar time. Even after they go ahead with numbers forward of the ball and within the field, they safe the realm to guard themselves in opposition to counter-attacks.
A wall of three or 4 gamers is sort of at all times current to press any free ball or clearance, whereas one participant man-marks the opposition’s first outlet (circled) they usually depart simply a few outfield gamers again on the midway line in case the ball does break away.
It’s a wise, efficient, and well-executed approach to each field groups in at and guard in opposition to breaks.
They use an identical tactic at instances when compelled to go lengthy from the again, with the 2 deepest midfielders closing down a protracted ball over their heads to win the second ball.And that type of aggression instantly after a turnover was nonetheless current after they’d taken the lead in opposition to Leicester. They win the ball again shortly after dropping it within the Leicester half, with 4 gamers placing stress on the ball as Leicester look to interrupt.
This isn’t a aspect that may look to sit down again at any level.
Arsenal should be alert when the ball goes out of play and followers will little doubt do not forget that set items value the staff after they met Olympiacos final season.
Issues have improved this time period — no Premier League staff has conceded fewer from set-pieces, as per The Athletic — and Slavia’s strategy from corners was comparatively predictable in opposition to Leicester, with the staff tending to make runs to overload the entrance publish within the hope of isolating a participant on the again publish.
One thing else to look out for is long-ish throws from simply inside our half. After overloading the wing with choices, Slavia often brought about Leicester bother by then throwing the ball inside and both flicking it on or getting it beneath management to change play shortly.
Within the second leg this didn’t actually work and one barely misthrown effort allowed Leicester an opportunity to grab possession and break ahead.
There’s loads to admire about the best way Slavia play in all phases of the sport. Czech league or not, you don’t benefit from the file they’ve had over the previous few years and not using a lot going proper. Their recruitment is clearly clever and the teaching is superb. Slavia have punched above their weight when underdogs in Europe and dominated domestically on the similar time for just a few seasons now.
However that is nonetheless Arsenal we’re speaking about. Slavia are an excellent aspect and will likely be uncomfortable to play in opposition to however Mikel Arteta’s aspect head into this one as large favourites. They’ll should work for it however, given the expertise at Mikel Arteta’s disposal, something however development stays unacceptable.