Arsenal host Ostersunds for the Europa League last-32 second leg with a comfortable lead going into the tie and one foot into the next round.
Arsenal welcome Ostersunds to the Emirates for their last-32 second leg clash with one foot already in the next round after a comfortable 3-0 victory in the first leg in Sweden. The Gunners are pencilled in for a win at home against Ostersunds with the gulf of quality between the two sides to prove vital in this clash.
Nacho Monreal and Mesut Ozil scored in the first leg as well an own goal forced by a Henrikh Mkhitaryan cross. But Arsenal’s fantastic form in this season’s Europa League has been in stark contrast with their Premier League form, as the Gunners languish in 6th position on the table.
Pundits have already written off Arsenal for top four spots at the end of the season as rivals have a considerable lead over them and it’s hard to see how the Gunners would overcome the deficit. Outside of the Premier League, the Europa League resembles a genuine chance for Arsenal to get back into the Champions League again next season.
Arsenal could field youngsters for this game as they have done so regularly during the group stages of the competition. On the other hand, Arsene Wenger would have one firm eye on the Carabao Cup Final against Manchester City on Sunday, and thus the shape of the team for Thursday could be decided on that basis.
Ostersunds would have to contend with the already healthy Arsenal lead and defend well to stand a chance of anything from the game, considering the kind of form Arsenal have displayed at home this season in all competition.
Team News and Tactics
Arsenal does have a few injuries to key players which will see them miss out on the tie, but Arsene Wenger would be thinking about the Carabao Cup Final too on Sunday. Arsene Wenger confirmed Ospina’s starting position as well as Mkhitaryan’s and Welbeck’s for the Ostersunds game.
Aaron Ramsey missed the last few games, and though he has returned to training, he’s set to miss out on the Ostersunds game. Mesut Ozil would also miss with an illness as well Alexandre Lacazette after going through surgery on a knee problem.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Reiss Nelson could start while Eddie Nketiah can feature at some point. Wenger could also shift defenders, with Kolasinac could get a chance to impress.
Probable Starting-XI (4-2-3-1): Ospina; Bellerin, Holding, Chambers, Kolasinac; Elneny, Maitland-Niles; Nelson, Mkhitaryan, Iwobi; Welbeck
Ostersunds is expected to field the same side as in the first leg in Sweden. Ostersunds will be pleased with the display in the first leg, despite losing 3-0.
Ghoddos is set to lead the line after he gave few problems to Arsenal defenders in the last leg. Sema will partner him in the striker role. Nouri and Tekie are expected to fight for in midfield, but it’s the defence where Ostursends need to be tight, considering Arsenal’s quality in attack and playing them at home.
Probable Starting-XI (4-4-2): Keita; Mensiro, Pettersson, Mukiibi, Widgren; Nouri, Edwards, Tekie, Hopcutt; Sema, Ghoddos
- Arsenal have played two wins from two against Swedish sides at the Emirates
- No Swedish team has won an away European match in England since 1995
- Three of the five teams to win at the Emirates on their first visit have done it in a European Competition
- Arsenal, at the Emirates, have lost just once in the last 27 matches since losing to Bayern last season.
Player to watch
Maitland-Niles has been playing regular football and put in some impressive performances. Although, with everyone fit, he could go down the pecking order. He has played predominantly as a left wing-back, but his favoured position is in central midfield.
At home against Ostersunds, Maitland-Niles will be looking to impress the manager again and show the consistent side of his game. A dominating performance could bode well and help him earn starts in further Europa League games, as well as in the Premier League.
Arsenal 3-0 Ostersunds
Arsenal had a comfortable game in Sweden in challenging temperatures. At the Emirates, they have home comfort, mainly because of their form there this season. Arsenal will be tight at the back and look to find creativity in attack.
Expect a comfortable result for Arsenal, as they are expected to score goals here. Arsenal, on the other hand, will likely take the competition more seriously to maintain composure.