Paul Merson predicts Slavia Prague v Arsenal in Europa League
Paul Merson is expecting to see Arsenal book their place in the Europa League semi-finals on Thursday night
Paul Merson is backing Arsenal to book their place in the Europa League semi-finals thanks to a win over Slavia Prague on Thursday night.
The Gunners took the lead late on at The Emirates in the first leg last week thanks to Nicolas Pepe’s opener, but they were pegged back in the dying moments and held to a 1-1 draw when Tomas Holes headed home an equaliser.
Arsenal are now preparing to travel to Prague on Thursday night looking to claim a victory and book their place in the semi-finals of Europe’s second tier club competition.
With the Gunners way off the pace in the race for a top-four finish, Mikel Arteta’s men know that winning the Europa League this season represents their final chance of qualifying for next season’s Champions League.
Former Arsenal star Merson is backing the Gunners to get the job done and secure their place in the last four.
Speaking to Sky Sports, Merson said: “It is a big game (against Slavia in the Europa League quarter-final, second leg), but at the end of the day you can only play with the hand you are dealt.
“There are a lot of players who are there before he [Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang] was there, and I feel for him in a way as they are so up and down.
“They should have finished the game against Slavia last week, the chances they missed and Alexandre Lacazette’s is an absolute sitter when he hit the bar, it is ridiculous.
“They are 10th in the league and this is Arsenal, let’s not forget. I would not say get rid of Arteta if they lost this game, though, not a chance.
“But I think they win this game, there is a lot of turning around there, but they have to start getting a plan, a five-year plan.
“This will not happen overnight, this needs to start now because at the moment they are relying on Bukayo Saka, who is their go-to man, and Emile Smith Rowe when he plays. And no disrespect, that should not be the case.”
After Thursday’s game, Arsenal are back in Premier League action on Sunday when they host London rivals Fulham at The Emirates.
MORE: Latest Arsenal news and views