Half-Time Report: Napoli 0-1 Arsenal …. Lacazette makes the difference

Alexandre Lacazette’s free kick has given Arsenal the half-time lead and 3-0 advantage on aggregate, as Napoli had an Arkadiusz Milik goal flagged offside.

Arsenal had a very aggressive start, but were almost caught out on a rapid counter-attack led by Kalidou Koulibaly, who rolled across for Jose Callejon to force a Petr Cech save with his legs at the back post.

Arkadiusz Milik had the ball in the back of the net on 24 minutes, but was flagged offside in an extremely tight decision. There is no VAR in the Europa League, as otherwise that would’ve gone to a check.

Moments later, Milik was onside only to turn his diving header wide from a Piotr Zielinski cross in a very promising position.

Ramsey pulled up clutching his left hamstring and had to make way for Henrikh Mkhitaryan just 34 minutes in.

However, Arsenal scored with their first genuine opportunity, as Alex Meret did not set his wall out properly, leaving a huge gap at the far top corner where Alexandre Lacazette curled his free kick from 25 metres out.

This made it 3-0 on aggregate, with Napoli needing four goals to qualify, as Arsenal also now had a precious away goal.

Callejon continued to waste chances, his header over the bar and a ferocious volley wide of the far post on Insigne’s cross, while Zielinski also had an effort charged down by a sea of Arsenal legs.

Photo Credit: uefa.com

Half-Time Report: Chelsea 4-1 Slavia Prague… Pedro nets brace as Chelsea run riot

The first 45 minutes of the Europa League match at Stamford Bridge recorded 5 goals, four for Chelsea and one for the visitors Slavia Prague

Chelsea started things off through Pedro who made a fantastic run before scoring the opening goal in the fifth minute, and he certainly wasn’t done there.

The Spaniard then missed the mark with his next shot which bounced off both the upright and the face of Deli before landing in the back of the net (9′).

Pedro then got in on the act again in the 17th minute when he sprinted past the Slavia defence before laying the ball over to Giroud to go up 3-0 early.

Slavia did have a couple of chances in the following 10 minutes and did briefly look like they would get back into the match through Soucek (25) but not two minutes later their joy was cut short when Pedro scored again.

Chelsea are unbeaten in the competition this season (W10 D1) and have scored in every game. Both records look like improving tonight.

The only blemish on an otherwise flawless first half from the hosts is Souček putting an end to their run of clean sheets in this competition. Otherwise Chelsea have been scintillating, with Pedro and Giroud inspired, and fully deserve their advantage. Sarri’s side are closing in on a place in the last four.

Slavia’s three-defender system has not worked tonight, Chelsea found the way to the goal so easily any time they wanted. There is a pride to play for in the second half, but Slavia must improve in defence to avoid humiliation.

Photo Credit: uefa.com

Olivier Giroud explains why Chelsea are not scoring many goals, threatens to leave club

Chelsea striker has threatened to quit the Stamford Bridge if he does not receive more first-team opportunities and also admitted that Maurizio Sarri’s philosophy makes it harder for the team to score goals.

Giroud is the top scorer in the Europa League this season after scoring nine goals in the competition yet the Frenchman has only started seven Premier League games.

The 32-year-old is out of contract at the end of this season but Chelsea have an option to extend his contract by a further year.

Giroud, who will start up front against Sparta Prague in the Europa League quarter-final second leg, said: ‘Trust me, I’m very frustrated when I’m not on the pitch, but I just don’t want to show it.

‘When you are a competitor, when you’ve been through difficulties all through your career, you need to keep that frustration inside you and transform it into positive energy on the pitch. That’s why I said, next year, I will need to have a more important role to play in the team.’

‘I have to meet Marina Granovskaia (club director). They must talk to me before the end of the season. With what I’ve achieved here, there is no reason they won’t give me one more year. But I need to be happy, also.’

Giroud only scored three goals before February this season and he is not the only striker to struggle at times under Sarri at Chelsea, as both Alvaro Morata and Higuain have toiled, reports The Daily Mail.

Giroud admitted that ‘Sarriball’ can leave strikers isolated and he urged Chelsea to learn from the ambition of clubs in the Champions League.

Giroud said: ‘We could be more dangerous with crosses, running behind. When you are not scoring enough goals, you point at the striker, but it’s more like having to improve in an offensive formation.

‘We are doing well in that system but if I compare with the other systems I’ve played in the past – for example with the national team – I’d rather play with a No 10 around me, with a second striker.

‘It’s not just about a system. It’s a philosophy, maybe finishing with more players in the box. I was watching Champions League and Premier League games, we need to improve in that way, finishing with more players in the box to take the chances.’

Jurgen Klopp addresses Lionel Messi threat to Liverpool’s Champions League ambition

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp claims that his side are capable of stopping Barcelona star Lionel Messi in their Champions League semi-final.

The Catalan club’s captain masterclass ended Manchester United’s Champions League dream at Nou Camp as the Argentine recorded a brace in the showdown.

“Thank God I don’t have to think about that tonight and thank God I have a few more nights to think about it,” Klopp told reporters, as cited by ESPN FC via Reuters.

“I think everybody tried it so far and nobody can really do it. We still will try it. But we are looking forward to it, but we have so many jobs to do before we meet Barcelona.

“So let’s first play these games and then let’s prepare for Barcelona. Then we will see. I have never played Barcelona in a proper game, so my first time there and I’m looking forward to it.”