Arsenal have been given a helping hand for the second round of the competition running with news of an injury boost for their Europa League quarter-final clash with Slavia Prague on Thursday.
The biggest game of the season is also Mikel Arteta’s most important fixture as a manager in his short career. With the Premier League a foregone conclusion despite favourable fixtures left to play, it’s Europa League all the way.
With the eggs stuffed into a poorly woven basket, the performance of this Arsenal side is what will ultimately decide whether they deserve to reach the semi-finals.
Coming to terms with the fact that Arsenal are an average side capable of putting in superb displays just as much as they are abject ones is the best way to temper expectations, simply because that’s what Arsenal are.
Arsenal handed massive injury boost for Slavia Prague Europa League quarter-final first leg on Thursday
Therefore, when they can earn a helping hand along they way, they’ll take it.
Slavia Prague were one of the sides Arsenal would have preferred to draw in this round, but they’re still strong opponents not to be taken lightly. Organised, energetic, tactically flexible and strong in both boxes, the news emerging of both their first choice central defenders will provide Arteta with a considerable boost.
Indeed, as confirmed by club president Jaroslav Tvrdik, Slavia Prague travel to London without Ondrej Kudela and Simon Deli, leaving them with just one fit centre-back, 20-year-old David Zima.
Kudela is well known for all the wrong reasons this season. Currently under investigation of making racist remarks to Glen Kamara in the previous round, as far as the footballing side of matters, he’s their best centre-back. Alongside him, Club Brugge loanee Deli has also been ruled out.
It means Jindřich Trpišovský will be forced to field a full-back alongside the inexperienced Zima in the heart of defence, far from ideal preparations as they aim to leave north London with a positive result.
Arsenal have to focus on their own displays. Getting into the right mentality – not that it should be hard for a fixture of this magnitude – is also key, but given the struggles the side are having any bonuses such as these are welcome.