Östersunds 0-3 Arsenal
Europa League Round of 32 First Leg
Well, this was comfortable.
Three away goals, and surely a round of 16 tie. Yes, we shouldn’t jump the gun, but to concede four at home is wild. But then we’re Arsenal, so who knows? However, we rode the wave here, and got out alright.
The starting eleven was OK, with some big guns (Ozil, Mkhi, Monreal, Mustafi, Bellerin) alongside some squad players and youngsters. Maitland-Niles started in midfield and in his supposed definitive role no less.
As for the game overall, the first half was between us and them in large part. We scored two early goals, but Ostersunds looked to attack a lot more from around 25 minutes. However, they didn’t threaten much, bar a strong shot that Ospina saved well. In a way, they were like us in our attacking play. They had good possession, but without much end product. Monreal got a good opener, with an own goal from a Mkhitaryan cross following that.
The second half followed similar pattern, and Ozil got a third to kill this leg at the least. Ospina, unlike our regular GK (but I do respect Cech), saved a late penalty.
So onto the Emirates, and hopefully the second leg is as comfortable.
Overall, this was pretty comfortable.
Östersunds looked to take the game to us, but lacked the attacking intent to seriously hurt us.
Whilst our midfield was still positionally weak, they again lacked the quality to make us pay.
Ospina did well to keep a clean sheet, and save the penalty.
The defence was OK, though Bellerin was mixed. He showed good penetration, but gave away a poor penalty (which granted was not converted). Mustafi and Chambers were fine too.
Maitland-Niles was average in midfield, good but not excellent. Elneny was his usual tidy self, with Özil (bar goal) and Mkhi pretty muted.
Iwobi and Welbeck showed good movement, but Welbz had good chance that he couldn’t finish.
Man of the match
This isn’t just for saving the penalty, but he looked strong overall. In my mind, he looked assured all game. He can be our new number one keeper.
Can we win the Europa League?
Yes, we can.
I believe even if we got Atletico Madrid or Dortmund in the next round, we could beat them. It’s about time that we won a European trophy again, since the mid-1990s was too long ago.