Arsenal made a major statement in the Europa League against Slavia Prague on Thursday night.
Mikel Arteta’s men were flirting with a European exit after a poor performance in the first leg of their clash with Slavia Prague who had previously eliminated Rangers and Leicester City.
But the Premier League side put the woes of conceding a stoppage-time equaliser at Emirates Stadium behind them as they scored three goals in an astonishing six-minute flurry.
Lacazette leads Arsenal players
Emile Smith Rowe paved the way for Arsenal to take the lead with a jaw-dropping assist for Nicolas Pepe, before Alexandre Lacazette and Bukayo Saka put the tie behind doubt at 3-0.
However, the Gunners didn’t just take a stand in a footballing sense because they also showed solidarity against racism by taking the knee before their quarter-final second leg.
And captain-on-the-night Lacazette made a particularly powerful statement by way of leading the Arsenal players in their gesture as the Slavia Prague XI stood together in front of him.
Footage of Lacazette’s anti-racism stance before the game can be seen down below:
Such a powerful image. There is no place for racism in football nor wider society.
Kudula punished for racism
The match was the first game since Slavia Prague’s Ondrej Kudula was found guilty of racially abusing Rangers’ Glen Kamara last month and was duly banned for 10 matches by UEFA.
Their official statement said they decided “to suspend SK Slavia Praha player, Ondrej Kudela, for the next 10 UEFA club and representative team competition matches for which he would otherwise be eligible to play, for racist behaviour.”
As a result, Lacazette’s stance took on a particular poignancy.
Villarreal next for Arsenal
And the French striker can be similarly proud of his performance on the night, adding a fourth strike for Arsenal in Czechia to elevate his stunning recent form to seven goals in nine matches.
The Gunners will now face their former manager Unai Emery and his Villarreal side as they compete to reach their second Europa League climax in three seasons.
If they do so, they could face Premier League opposition once again in the form of Manchester United or perhaps Italian giants AS Roma who overcame Ajax in their last eight tie.