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London: The days of Arsenal shutting out their highest-paid player in the biggest games were supposed to be over.
mikel arteta could only lament his team’s naïveté in conceding an injury-time equalizer to give slavia praga a 1-1 draw and the lead at the halfway point in this european league quarter-final tie . however, surely the biggest problem was his team’s profligacy on the opposite end of the pitch, allowing a number of chances to be missed on a night when a clinical finish could have masked another disappointing performance.
There was certainly some logic to arteta’s reasoning in explaining why pierre-emerick aubameyang didn’t come out, highlighting the impact a late burst of pace could have on tired legs.
“There were some big decisions to leave some players out,” Arteta said, “but we decided to play against the team that had the best chance to start the game well and also have some key players to change the game when I need it. “
His target came from there. aubameyang did well to control the ball and release fellow substitute nicolas pepe as arsenal broke at speed. Pepe controlled his nerves well, achieving an intelligent shot over Slavia’s goalkeeper, Ondrej Kolar.
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They had four minutes plus stoppage time to hang on, but they couldn’t. Lukas Provod’s corner found its way to the back post where Tomas Holes ducked down to head into the back post.
holes through the armory defense – sounds pretty good. however, the gunners were only in this position due to the waste that occurred earlier.
“What was missing is that when you create great opportunities, you have to save them,” Arteta said. “and I think we achieved much more than the result we got.”
bukayo saka kicked frighteningly wide as he was sent clear by rob holding. willian hit the post with a free kick just after halftime. Alexandre Lacazette hit the crossbar as he was running clear when Slavia’s defender Oscar Dorley was caught in possession as the last man on the halfway line.
lacazette then shot wide from the center of saka’s back post. aubameyang missed a good chance of his own, producing a meek effort when emile smith rowe’s forehand shot ran into him in the six-yard box.
aubameyang maybe had the excuse that he wasn’t completely in tune with the game, as he had been introduced less than a minute before, but then again, he’s been out in the cold for some time.
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at a minimum, the change should have come sooner than it did in these 90 minutes. aubameyang, pepe and gabriel martinelli breathed new life into the home team when slavia tired of a compromised display in which they had their own chances, petr sevcik shot wide from 16 yards when well placed in the box.
The arsenal’s struggles with managing games, defending leads, and showing sufficient resilience are familiar and well-documented issues. aubameyang’s role in the team is not, at least not yet.
Not everything is fine. aubameyang headed straight for the tunnel full time, exchanging words or glances with no one. When she was asked later if Aubameyang understood why he had been left out, Arteta wasn’t exactly sympathetic in her response.
“Well, I can’t talk to everyone individually every week,” he said. “We try to be transparent and communicate with the players as transparently as possible, so that they understand the role they have in the game. When he came in, he showed the right attitude.”
Arsenal may still find a way to the semifinals. they’re alarmingly inconsistent but remain competitive against anyone when they’re at their best.
Until recently, those performances invariably contained aubameyang. if they remain to be seen.