Mikel Arteta has warned his players that their reunion with former boss Unai Emery will be no walk in the park, as they strolled into the Europa League semi-finals. Arsenal turned in their best performance of the season to beat Slavia Prague 4-0 in the Czech Republic and will now face Villarreal in the last four.
Arsenal were without their captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on enemy lines after the striker announced he has been hospitalised by malaria.
But the Gunners responded well to the frustration of last week’s first leg in which they threw away the lead in stoppage time at the Emirates Stadium.
Emile Smith Rowe was at his brilliant best and was the fulcrum of almost every Arsenal in attack in the first half.
He teed up Nicolas Pepe for the opener before Alexandre Lacazette doubled the lead from the penalty spot.
“It will be really tough,” Arteta said. “They are a top team and Unai is probably the most successful manager in this competition. I am totally aware of that.
“We know the opponent we are going to be facing but we are now focused on Fulham.
“We won’t have any time to train anything, we will just make sure that the players recover and I activate them so they’re ready to go again.”
Arteta was delighted with the way his side attacked on the front foot and the ruthless streak they showed in front of goal.
“We started really well in a convincing way, aggressive in our high press,” he added.
“We looked a threat all the time. I really like the reaction of the team to the goal being disallowed. We scored some great goals, The clean sheet is important as well, the second one in two games.
“It helped the way we played against Sheffield United. The players were in high confidence, when performances are so high the collective improves. The boys were really at it from the start.
“It is a really important win in a crucial moment. We won in a convincing way, so credit to the players.”