By Josh James
A mesmeric spell of three goals in six first-half minutes laid the platform for a commanding victory in Prague, and sent us through to the semi-final of the Europa League once again.
After a quiet opening 15 minutes, we stepped up through the gears to rip Slavia apart on their own turf, making the disappointment of last week's late equaliser in the first leg at the Emirates a distant memory.
Nicolas Pepe, Alexandre Lacazette and Bukayo Saka all found the net in the first-half flurry, and Lacazette added extra gloss to the evening late on.
It all started on the quarter hour. Emile Smith Rowe thought he had given us the lead after he tucked home the loose ball when Saka's shot cannoned back off the bar. But after a lengthy VAR check, he was found to be just offside.
We didn't let the disappointment get to us though, far from it. Within ten minutes we had scored three goals that very much did count.
Pepe got that goal that cancelled out the away goal from the first leg. He was found in the penalty area by Smith Rowe, then kept his cool, skipped past his man and fired home at the near post.
We kept the pedal to the metal. Three minutes later Saka burst into the box, was hauled down by Jakub Hromada and the Turkish referee immediately pointed to the spot.
Captain Lacazette strode up to convert from 12 yards and maintain his excellent recent scoring form, as well as his 100 per cent record from the penalty spot. This was the Frenchman's fifth goal in his past six games, and his seventh successful spot kick in all.
We weren't done yet though. Another three minutes elapsed and Saka added a third. Fed this time by Calum Chambers, Saka advanced at speed into the danger zone, then pulled the trigger with a wonderful low left foot shot that wrong footed the keeper and nestled inside the near post.
It was a wonderful six-minute blitz that put us firmly in control. Against a side, don't forget, unbeaten in their previous 30 home games in all competitions.
In fact they are unbeaten home and away in the Czech league this season, and had only conceded five goals at home all campaign.
They were simply blown away in the first half though, by a clinical Gunners display.
The second half was about consolidating our position, staying in control, and seeing the game out without scares if possible.
It's exactly what we did, holding the hosts at bay comfortably until Lacazette grabbed his second of the night and his 17th of an increasingly influential season.
He finished well at the near post from a Pepe cross to seal a cap a memorable night on the continent.
He was later withdrawn as part of a triple substitution. The job was done, emphatically so.
HOW IT HAPPENED
WHAT IT MEANS
We are through to the last four of the Europa League for the third time in the past four seasons, where we will face Villarreal over two legs.
Villarreal are managed by our ex-boss Unai Emery, and are currently seventh in La Liga.
The first leg will be played in Spain on April 29, with the return at the Emirates a week later. The winners will face either Manchester United or Roma in the final in Gdansk, Poland on May 26.
It's a quick turnaround to face Fulham at home in the Premier League this Sunday afternoon.
Then we host Everton the following Friday before the Europa League resumes on Thursday, April 29, away to Villarreal.
Copyright 2023 The Arsenal Football Club Limited. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source.