Tonight, sees Arsenal and Arsene Wenger go to battle with a club in Ostersunds who weren’t even formed when he took the reins at Highbury.
Formed in October of 1996, Ostersunds have had a steady rise to reach the Europa League knockout stage.
Manager, Graham Potter, has overseen three promotions since taking over at the Swedish club in 2011 and got the side up to a 5th place finish in the Allsvenskan last year.
In their Europa League journey so far, Ostersunds have already shown that they have what it takes to mix it up with some of Europes’ elite.
They managed to beat Galatasaray over two legs to enter the competition before fashioning a win against Hertha Berlin along with a 2-2 draw against Athletic Bilbao in the group stage.
On the job his counterpart has done so far, Wenger said:
“He’s done a great job here and is very influential in they way they play, which is attractive an suits their pitch which requires you to be very technical.”
Looking ahead of the game, the home side’s pitch is something that has caught the attention of the football world.
Rather than a mixture of turf and grass, Ostersund’s Jamtkraft Arena is said to be a 4G astro-turf surface.
At first read that may not seem like much of a difference, but with some players on the more fragile side its easy to see why Wenger has left the likes of Laurent Koscielny and Jack Wilshere at home instead of risking an injury.
One player that could have fell into that category a few weeks ago was Danny Welbeck. However, gradually coming back to full fitness and with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette unavailable for tonight’s game, this could be his time.
First bursting on the scene at Manchester United as a striker, we haven’t seen him used their much in his Arsenal career but that could change as Wenger said:
“It’s (central) where I prefer him and where I believe he has an opportunity to do well, he’s worked on his fitness and from what I’ve seen he’s sharper than he has been in a while.”
With Welbeck expected to lead the line tonight, that would also mean there will probably be limited minutes for Eddie Nketiah down the middle.
However, hopefully with a more senior head in Welbeck and Mesut Ozil who is also expected to play, maybe the tie will be in the bag for him to get some game time in the 2nd leg.
But first and foremost, a win is needed tonight in Sweden to keep a bunch of Arsenal fans happy going into a fixture-less weekend.