Big Nicolas Pepe claim made after Slavia Prague clash as Arsenal secure Europa League windfall


Here is your Arsenal morning digest for Friday, April 16.

Gunners player ratings

Arsenal cruised into the semi-finals of the UEFA Europa League for the second time in just three seasons last night, hammering Slavia Prague 4-0 in the second-leg of their quarter-final showdown.

After the first-leg ended 1-1 at the Emirates Stadium last weekend, the tie was evenly poised ahead of last night’s second-leg.

However, the Gunners blew the Czech giants away within the opening 24 minutes, racing into a three-goal lead thanks to goals from Nicolas Pepe, Alexandre Lacazette and Bukayo Saka. The Gunners, who will now face Villarreal for a place in the final, then added a fourth during the second 45 through Lacazette to ensure they won the tie 5-1 on aggregate.


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Whilst it was a superb team display from the Gunners, who no doubt arrived in the Czech capital conscious of the fact their opponents had knocked both Leicester City and Rangers out of the competition on route to the last-eight, Saka stood out above the rest, delivering an outstanding display when it mattered most.

He scooped a 9/10 in our player ratings, ensuring he came out on top.

Click here to see how our Arsenal writer Kaya Kaynak rated the Gunners stars in the Czech capital.

Arsenal secure big-money windfall

Arsenal are now just two games away from the final of the Europa League, meaning their hopes of laying their hands on a trophy in what has been a below-par season are still alive and kicking.

The Gunners bowed out of the Carabao Cup at the quarter-final stage, losing 4-1 to Manchester City, whilst they were knocked out of the FA Cup in the fourth round, losing 1-0 to Southampton.

Their failure to progress in both domestic cup competitions has meant that they have been under a certain amount of pressure to go far in Europe this season, something they have now achieved following last night’s win.

As well as progressing to the last-four of the competition, the Gunners have also been able to strengthen their bank account, adding £2m to their tally.

That means the club has now won £12.3million from their Europa League adventure this season.

To read the full story, click here.

Keown makes Pepe admission

Former Gunners defender Martin Keown believes Arsenal are now starting to “get a return” on the big-money transfer fee they shelled out to sign Pepe.

The Ivorian star played a key role in the Gunners’ win in Prague last night to take his tally of goals for the season into double figures.

The former Lille man netted the opening goal of the game, providing the finishing touch to the pass that Emile Smith Rowe’s assist deserved.

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Having delivered such an encouraging performance in a game of such magnitude, Keown was quick to heap praise on the winger.

Keown told BT Sport: “I know that they paid a lot of money for him and people don’t want to talk about that, but it’s now starting to come, isn’t it?

“In important games, he does put a performance in. When he’s through on goal, he’s icy cool, a lot of people might have pulled the trigger there and the goalkeeper might have saved it.

“So, we’re getting a return and it’s coming together at the right time.”





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