Arsenal's best bet at returning to the Champions League stage may be through winning the Europa League title like Manchester United last season.

By 90Min
February 14, 2018
Arsenal travel to Sweden on Thursday to face Ostersunds in the round of 32 tie in the Europa League. Arsene Wenger's team travels to Sweden on the back of a disappointing 1-0 defeat to North London rivals Tottenham at Wembley. But the Gunners are back on the road hoping for a victory. 

This competition may be the best chance for Wenger's side to qualify for the Champions League as they find themselves eight points from the top four. 

Here is everything you need to know about the match:


Previous Encounter

There two sides have not met each other yet in any competitions. Ostersunds were founded in 1996 and at that point, Arsene Wenger was already the manager of Arsenal. 

Ostersunds manager, Englishman Graham Potter - former Stoke, Southampton and West Brom left-back, will be relishing the challenge against footballing giants Arsenal. 

Ostersunds are not to be taken lightly even though this is their first experience of a European competition, they successfully dispatched Hertha Berlin and Galatasaray in the lead up to this match. They also secured themselves a 2-2 draw against Athletic Bilbao, making themselves the first Swedish club to reach the competition's knockout stages.

Ostersunds sent out a message to Arsenal on Instagram before the match claiming they were ready for them with a picture of their locker rooms as igloos. They were referring to the freezing temperatures currently in Ostersund, potentially proving a challenge for the Arsenal players.  


Key Battle

Danny Welbeck v Tom Pettersson

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is unable to play due to his former club Borussia Dortmund dropping into the Europa League from the Champions League, he becomes cup-tied. And Alexandre Lacazette has been ruled out due to injury, Danny Welbeck will welcome the chance to lead the line for Arsenal.

Welbeck has the pace, the stature and great finishing abilities which will provide a tough test for Tom Pettersson, the Ostersund central defender. Pettersson has featured in six Europa League qualifiers and six Europa League matches and will be aware of the danger Welbeck can produce. 


Team News

Arsenal are without striker Lacazette who has been ruled out for up to six weeks after a minor knee operation. The North London team are also missing new signing Aubameyang who is cup-tied. 

Aaron Ramsey missed the North London Derby with a groin injury and could still miss this game while he recovers. Santi Cazorla is still out with a long-term injury. 

No reported injury concerns for Ostersund. 


Potential Ostersund Starting Lineup: Keita; Mensiro, Pettersson, Mukiibi, Widgren; Nouri, Edwards, Tekie, Hopcutt; Sema, Ghoddos

Potential Arsenal Starting Lineup: Ospina; Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal; Wilshire, Xhaka; Iwobi, Ozil, Mkhitaryan; Welbeck


Prediction

This could be the end of the road for Swedish side Ostersunds as Arsenal will be using this competition to win a trophy and get qualification for the Champions League. 

With the strength of Koscielny, the passion of Wilshire and pace of Welbeck, this challenge might prove difficult for Ostersunds.

Prediction: Ostersunds 0- 3 Arsenal

You May Like