Arsenal comfortably see off Slavia Prague to set up a meeting with Villarreal and former manager Unai Emery in the semi-finals of the Europa League.
Last week’s 1-1 draw at Emirates Stadium had left the Gunners with a very simple equation going into the second leg of their Europa League quarter-final in the Czech capital.
Arteta’s side knew failure to find a way through a Slavia side who were unbeaten at home in all competitions this season would send them crashing out of the tournament, and leave an already disappointing season in tatters.
But, in the space of six scintillating first-half minutes, those questions were answered in emphatic style.
The brilliant Emile Smith Rowe had already had a goal ruled out for the tightest of offsides calls before Nicolas Pepe gave the visitors the lead on 18 minutes, thus cancelling out Slavia’s away goal.
Nearly all of the action came in the first half, with three goals in the space of six minutes from Pepe, Lacazette and Saka firing them into a comfortable lead at the break.
Lacazette grabbed a second on 77 minutes, to make it four on the night and 5-1 on aggregate.
It was game, set and match Arsenal before we had even reached the half-hour mark.
Even in his wildest dreams, Arteta would never have imagined such an impressive start from his side, especially with his captain and talisman Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang missing due to contracting malaria while away with Gabon on international duty.
And now they have booked their spot in the Europa League semi-finals, where they will meet Unai Emery’s Villarreal.
Clearly, there is still much for Arsenal to improve on and failure to go on win the Europa League will more than likely leave them facing up to a season without European competition for the first time in 25 years.
Emery led Arsenal to the Europa League final in 2019 and now he is the man standing in their way of repeating the trick two years later.
A return to the Champions League is now within touching distance for Arsenal. Just three games stand between them and a seat back at Europe’s top table.
Arsenal will now turn their attentions back to the Premier League, as they face Fulham at the weekend. Whilst Slavia Prague face Liberec in the Czech First League next time out.