February 16, 2018

Arsenal take control of tie in Sweden

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Arsenal produced a composed performance against Ostersunds on a cold night in Sweden to all but esure qualification through to the next round of the Europa League at the expense of the Swedish minnows. Ostersunds gave a good account of themselves and at times troubled the ‘Gunners’, but two defensive blunders early in the first half and a Mesut Ozil strike in the second saw Arsenal win comfortably.

Much had been made of Arsenal’s potential problems with an artificial pitch and below-zero temperatures, but they started the game at a red hot pace. In the 13th minute Ostersunds tried to play their way out of defence, losing the ball in the process, and it cost them.

Goalkeeper Keita couldn’t hold on to a tame effort and it fell to the feet of Nacho Monreal who tapped home for his fifth goal of the season. 10 minutes later it was 2-0. Again, inexplicably, Ostersunds didn’t clear their lines, allowing Henrikh Mkhitaryan to pick the ball up inside their box and send in a cross. It hit the back of Papagiannopoulos and nestled in the bottom corner to give Arsenal some breathing space.

Finally, after 30 minutes of play, the Swedish outfit came into the game and began causing Arsenal some problems. Saman Ghoddos teed up a volley and fired a stinging effort that Ospina tipped over the bar. As half time drew nearer the Swedes saw a lot more of the ball, but were not able to translate that into a goal.

The second half began in the same vein. The home sides pressing was obviously making life difficult for Arsenal, and they were able to launch some attacks, but nothing came of it. Then Ozil landed the killer blow.

Good work down the left saw the ball crossed into the German, who made no mistake, firing home despite the ‘keeper getting a hand to it.

Arsenal almost spoiled their perfect night in added time, as Hector Bellerin committed a terrible foul inside the box. The referee duly pointed to the spot, but Ospina guessed the right way and kept out Tom Pettersson's effort.

The return leg at the Emirates next week should be nothing short of a formality for Arsenal, but the Swedish side managed by Graham Potter should not be disappointed. They acquitted themselves well against the best opposition any of them will have ever played - Arsenal’s starting lineup included two World Cup winners - and the work done by Potter and the team at Ostersunds is nothing short of remarkable.

Arsenal produced a composed performance against Ostersunds on a cold night in Sweden to all but esure qualification through to the next round of the Europa League at the expense of the Swedish minnows. Ostersunds gave a good account of themselves and at times troubled the ‘Gunners’, but two defensive blunders early in the first half and a Mesut Ozil strike in the second saw Arsenal win comfortably.

Much had been made of Arsenal’s potential problems with an artificial pitch and below-zero temperatures, but they started the game at a red hot pace. In the 13th minute Ostersunds tried to play their way out of defence, losing the ball in the process, and it cost them.

Goalkeeper Keita couldn’t hold on to a tame effort and it fell to the feet of Nacho Monreal who tapped home for his fifth goal of the season. 10 minutes later it was 2-0. Again, inexplicably, Ostersunds didn’t clear their lines, allowing Henrikh Mkhitaryan to pick the ball up inside their box and send in a cross. It hit the back of Papagiannopoulos and nestled in the bottom corner to give Arsenal some breathing space.

Finally, after 30 minutes of play, the Swedish outfit came into the game and began causing Arsenal some problems. Saman Ghoddos teed up a volley and fired a stinging effort that Ospina tipped over the bar. As half time drew nearer the Swedes saw a lot more of the ball, but were not able to translate that into a goal.

The second half began in the same vein. The home sides pressing was obviously making life difficult for Arsenal, and they were able to launch some attacks, but nothing came of it. Then Ozil landed the killer blow.

Good work down the left saw the ball crossed into the German, who made no mistake, firing home despite the ‘keeper getting a hand to it.

Arsenal almost spoiled their perfect night in added time, as Hector Bellerin committed a terrible foul inside the box. The referee duly pointed to the spot, but Ospina guessed the right way and kept out Tom Pettersson's effort.

The return leg at the Emirates next week should be nothing short of a formality for Arsenal, but the Swedish side managed by Graham Potter should not be disappointed. They acquitted themselves well against the best opposition any of them will have ever played - Arsenal’s starting lineup included two World Cup winners - and the work done by Potter and the team at Ostersunds is nothing short of remarkable.