Slavia Prague face defensive injury crisis ahead of Arsenal Europa League tie

Ondrej Kudela won't travel to London to face Arsenal in Thursday's Europa League quarter-final first leg
Ondrej Kudela won’t travel to London to face Arsenal in Thursday’s Europa League quarter-final first leg tie (Picture: Getty)

Slavia Prague will travel to London for their Europa League quarter-final first leg tie against Arsenal with only one recognised central defender in their ranks.

The team from the Czech Republic will be looking to complete a British hat-trick after knocking out Leicester and Rangers in the previous two rounds.

Slavia comprehensively outplayed the Foxes over two legs and were equally impressive in both matches against Steven Gerrard’s side, who were recently crowned Scottish champions.

Despite their recent eye-catching performanes, Slavia are still considered heavy underdogs against an Arsenal team which has conceded six goals in its last two matches and qualified for the last eight of the Europa League in unconvincing fashion, following a home defeat against Olympiacos.

Arsenal will be without David Luiz, who underwent surgery on his knee earlier this week, and are sweating on the fitness of Kieran Tierney who was forced off against Liverpool last Saturday with a knee injury that followed a challenge with James Milner.

Ondrej Kudela was accused of racially abusing Glen Kamara during Rangers' defeat against Slavia Prague
Ondrej Kudela was accused of racially abusing Glen Kamara during Rangers’ defeat against Slavia Prague (Picture: Getty)

Slavia will arguably, however, arrive in north London in an even greater state of disrepair. Ondrej Kudela. who was at the centre of of a racism storm which overshadowed the win at Ibrox, will miss the trip due to ‘health concerns’.

Police had been wanting to question the 34-year-old who had been accused of abusing Glen Kamara with a slur that prompted the former Arsenal youngster to release a statement, via his lawyer, last month in which he urged UEFA to take decisive action and not sweep the incident under the carpet.

Kudela started for Czech Republic in last week’s World Cup qualifier against Wales in Cardiff but will play no part in Thursday’s game at the Emirates Stadium.

Ivory Coast defender Simon Deli also misses out, while Taras Kacharaba has not been registered to play in the knockout rounds, despite appearing in the group stages before the turn of the year.

David Zima represents the only remaining recognised central defender available, providing Jindrich Trpisovsky with a significant headache ahead of the biggest game in Slavia’s recent history.

The stakes are equally high for an Arsenal side whose only remaining hope of qualifying for European competition next season comes in the shape of winning this competition, which still includes the likes of Villarreal and Manchester United.

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