The Gunners took away three goals in the first leg encounter of the Round of 32-knockout phase of the Europa League campaign, away to Swedish side Ostersunds, where goals from Nacho Monreal, a Papagiannopoulos own-goal and Mesut Ozil was able to hand Arsenal a comfortable away victory.
The Gunners who have a Carabao Cup final this Sunday, against runaway League leaders Manchester City had key members of the team rested, as Wenger rotated his line-up to his strongest ability. David Ospina, Hector Bellerin, Calum Chambers, Rob Holding, Sead Kolasinac, Mohamed Elneny, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Henrik Mkhitaryan, Jack Wilshere, Alex Iwobi and Danny Welbeck made the Starting XI for the second leg encounter.
Wenger and his players will be left red-faced following a performance that was another low point from the North London side after they were beating 1-2 at the Emirates in the second leg encounter, but, still made it through to the next round by a 4-2 aggregate scoreline.
The manager of the Swedish side Ostersunds, Potter, said before the second leg encounter, that his team would need the biggest miracle in the history of football to progress, but the visiting fans were dreaming of just that as they rattled Arsenal in the first half of the second leg – with a 0-2 scoreline as the Gunners had no response to the opposition in the first half.
In the 20th minute of the second leg, they opposition seemed to be in dreamland when they went 1-0 up following a positive start. Calum Chambers deflected Hosam Aiesh’s low shot past David Ospina, to register an own-goal and put the visitors ahead on the night.
Ostersunds who currently are on-going preseason were miles ahead of Arsenal in terms of performance in the second leg.
The excitement didn’t take long for the away side, as the found themselves on cloud 9 after doubling their lead in just a minute, which provoked boos amongst the home supports towards the Arsenal side. Chambers was out-muscled by Sema before he thrashed the ball into the net to stun the Emirates.
The Gunners were toothless in their attack, as Danny Welbeck wasn’t able to perform the magic needed upfront. I would’ve preferred Eddie Nketiah up front, which would’ve served the youngster some vital experience.
The Gunners in the second half got the all-important goal, thanks to Sead Kolasinac who was positioned in the right place to thump in Bellerin’s cross to silence the opposition. This was the Bosnian’s first goal for the Gunners since New Year’s Eve.
Arsenal looked more relaxed afterwards, following the introduction of Granit Xhaka, which Mohamed Elneny and Danny Welbeck each got denied by good saves from Keita, but Ostersunds looked a threat until the end and the Gunners.
Arsenal will need to improve significantly if they are to claim the first major trophy of the English season this weekend when they face Manchester City.