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Ostersunds 0-3 Arsenal : A Cold Job Well Done

Our team weathered the cold to score three and take one step into the next round of the Europa League, with a 3-0 win in Ostersunds.The Swedish outfit did well to keep the score down, but it was mixed with our reluctance to finish the game with more goals that kept the score down.Our team was bereft of our two first choice strikers through very differing reasons. Pierre-emerick Aubameyang was cup-tied after featuring for Dortmund in the previous round, and Alexandre Lacazette suffered more bad luck with an injury suffered previously that will keep the French striker out for a minimum of four weeks.That left Danny Welbeck to lead the line, but we did field Mesut Ozil and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, as we took the tie seriously. Alex Iwobi was in the lineup to complete a three-pronged attack, and Ainslie Maitland-Niles was rewarded for his breakthrough season with a spot in his preferred position of central midfield, alongside Mohamed Elneny. Laurent Koscielny was rested as much to avoid the rock hard pitch and exacerbate any long-standing niggles, so Calum Chambers was given the nod to take his place, alongside Shkodran Mustafi. There was still no place for Sead Kolasinac mystifyingly, and Nacho Monreal was again at left-back.It was the Spaniard who once again bagged a goal, this time the opener. Ostersunds got off to the worst possible start, after just 13 minutes the Swedish team’s keeper Aly Keita fumbled Iwobi’s shot and Monreal showed his instinct to finish from close range and give us the dream start.It would get even better in just eleven minutes. Ostersunds were floundering and couldn’t seem to put up a fight, and we took advantage. Mkhitaryan snatched possession deep in Ostersunds territory. His attempted cross to Danny Welbeck could only be diverted into his own net by Sotiris Papagiannopolous.The rest of the half was pretty tame and certainly not enough to warm the home or away fans, but it was looking to be job done for the Gunners. Ostersunds needed to shape up quickly.The second half was a far better display for Graham Potter’s men, and they at least showed some intent. Again, how much of this was down to our reluctance to finish the game off is very much up for discussion.Saman Ghoddos, the Swedish team’s striker, seemed to improve vastly and he tested David Ospina a few times with some decent efforts, but the game was put to bed on the 58th minute thanks to Mesut Ozil. The German slewed his way into the box unmarked and was found easily, enabling him to finish well.Ostersunds kept up the fight gamely, but a three goal deficit is usually a death knell for most teams in a two leg affair. However, we are The Arsenal, and we don’t let things like that get in the way of giving us fans palpitations.Reiss Nelson, Eddie Nketiah and Kolasinac all came on in the second half, but they made little to no impact. The only thing worth noting aside from our team taking our boot from Ostersunds neck, was the home team being gifted a penalty late on, but Petterson’s effort was denied by Ospina.Our Europa League victory will be marred by the slow start that Ostersunds made, but we can only beat what is put in front of us, and we did that quite convincingly. Athletic Bilbao and Hertha Berlin have both stumbled here, so to come away with a 3-0 win without Aubameyang, Lacazette, Wilshere, Ramsey and Koscielny is not to be sneered at.Our next match is the return leg at The Emirates. Another win like this would be the perfect prep for a double fixture against runaway leaders Manchester City. With a cup final impending, we need to be on top of our game to have a chance of some silverware.