Arsenal 1-2 Östersunds FK: Hapless Gunners Progress on Aggregate as Swedish Side Produce Famous Win

Arsenal edged closer to the Europa League final with a 4-2 aggregate victory against Swedish side Östersunds FK, despite the away side claiming a historic victory at the Emirates on Thursday.

The travelling side found themselves deservedly 2-0 up at half-time – scoring two goals in 69 seconds – and giving Arsene Wenger’s side an early scare. However, two minutes into the second half, Sead Kolasinac pulled a goal back after a missed clearance with a powerful right-footed shot straight into the back of the net. 

Arsenal welcomed their visitors to the Emirates Stadium with a 0-3 aggregate lead. Many thought the tie was polished off following the first leg result, but it very much proved not to the the case.

Jack Wilshere made a start as Arsenal captain and Danny Welbeck lead the line for the Gunners, but the away team caused an early stir with their quick-succession goals.

Östersund manager Graham Potter bravely chose to start with two wide wingers, hoping to find a footballing miracle. They brought along 5000 fans along with them, which is 10% of the entire town’s population.  

Arsenal were left silenced early in the match as the visiting team started brightly, pacing forwards towards David Ospina’s goal, pressing the home side and dispossessing them at any opportunity. 

In the 22nd minute, the hard work paid off for the away team. Östersund winger Aiesh set away down the left-hand side of the box before slotting the ball across Ospina’s goal. The ball may have taken a slight deflection off Calum Chambers into the back of the net, but the credit and hard work has to go to Aiesh. 

Just 69 seconds later, the 5,000 Ostersunds fans had just regained their breath from the first goal, when Alex Iwobi sloppily gave the ball away in the middle of the park. Winger Ken Sema – who had been a bright spark for his side – showed off his power, held off Chambers with a lovely piece of footwork and rifled the ball home. This was not going to plan for the hosts.

Half time couldn’t have come at a better moment for the home side, who desperately needed to regroup if they were to progress further in the competition. 


​They got their goal early in the second half though, as Hector Bellerin placed the ball into a player packed box. A poor clearance from Ronald Mukiibi allowed the ball to fall to Sead Kolasinac’s feet, and he took a light first touch before smashing the ball from close range into the back of the net.

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Arsenal continued to search for the second goal of the night, with Welbeck’s header coming close in the 69th minute but falling straight into the arms of goalkeeper Aly Keita. But the Östersund players played their part in this brilliant victory, leaving the 5000 fans with unforgettable memories from the Emirates. 

Arsenal’s victory means they advance into the last 16 of the Europa League as the only British side as Celtic were knocked out early in the day. 

The Gunners now focus on their Carabao Cup final against Manchester City on Sunday hoping to win their first trophy of the season. 

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Arsenal Star Henrikh Mkhitaryan Aims Fresh Swipe at Jose Mourinho With Wenger Compliments

​Arsenal star Henrikh Mkhitaryan has aimed a fresh dig at old manager Jose Mourinho after praising Arsene Wenger and his style of football.

Mkhitaryan is now a Gunner following his sensational swap deal last month that saw the disgruntled Alexis Sanchez move to Manchester United.

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The Armenian endured a tricky time of things under the Portuguese’s management, performing inconsistently throughout his 18-month spell.

There had been reports of a rift between the pair, and that may have been the case given Mkhitaryan’s latest comments. ​Mourinho has certainly made subtle digs towards the star previously.

Mkhitaryan told ​ESPN: “In the last year I played in Dortmund with Klopp, Dortmund was playing very good football and I think it seems to be a bit similar comparing Arsenal to Dortmund. 

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“I’m very happy to be here. I get pleasure playing offensive football and being part of Arsenal.

Every offensive player wants to play offensive football. For me as well, I always love to play offensive football, it’s not easy to defend all the time.

“It’s necessary to do the best for the team, but in this case, when Arsenal are playing offensive football, I’m trying to give everything I can give to the team.”

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Of course, Mourinho has faced criticism for his ‘negative’ or ‘defensive’ style of football, which seemed to hinder the creative 29-year-old’s game during his time in Manchester.

 

Mkhitaryan has started his Arsenal career well since moving, providing four assists in four games and next season it could well be that fans witness the return of the industrious Borussia Dortmund Mkhitaryan who provided 23 goals and 32 assists in 52 games across all competitions.

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Premier League Trio Enter Race for Ajax Ace De Ligt After Making Contact With Defender’s Agent

​The Premier League trio of Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United have joined a long list of suitors in the race to sign Ajax defender Matthijs de Ligt as contact has reportedly been made with his representatives. 

The highly-rated 18-year-old has attracted interest from Europe’s elite after being tipped to become one of the leading central defenders in world football, with Barcelona and Bayern Munich joining the English clubs in making contact with the defender’s agent, Barry Hulshoff.

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According to Spanish outlet ​Mundo Deportivo, Barcelona are leading the race to land the 18-year-old due to the club’s close relationship with Ajax, with the Spanish outfit understood to be eager to secure a deal for a summer move.

However, the report claims they are not alone in their interest and would therefore need to part with a substantial fee as De Ligt also remains under contract with Ajax until 2021. 

The Netherlands international, tipped for stardom, will only part ways with Ajax if he is offered regular first-team football, something Barcelona may struggle with having Gerard Pique and Samuel Umtiti in the heart of their defence.

Similarly, both City and United have a host of centre-backs to choose from unlike Arsenal whose ageing back-line could be buoyed by the arrival of De Ligt. 

Yet, with experience beyond his years clubs across Europe will undoubtedly do everything they can to land the 18-year-old, where deadwood could be shifted in a bid to ensure De Ligt is the backbone of a club’s defence for the foreseeable future.  

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Arsene Wenger Confirms the 3 Arsenal Stars Set to Start Against Ostersunds in Europa Clash

​Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has confirmed that Henrikh Mkhitaryan, David Ospina and Danny Welbeck will all start on Thursday night as the Gunners head into their ​second leg tie with Ostersunds having won the ​first leg 3-0.

Wenger insisted that he will be taking the game against the Swedish outfit seriously and warned his players about underestimating Ostersunds, despite Sunday’s League Cup final against Premier League leaders Manchester City on the horizon.

​​Wenger, however, confirmed that key players Laurent Koscielny, Jack Wilshere, Shkodran Mustafi and Mesut Ozil are all set to sit out the clash in north London. Revealing the players who will definitely play in the match.

“Danny Welbeck will play.  He is getting sharper every day. In the last week he has moved forward, I think the game in Ostersunds has done him good. I believe that physically he is getting better,” stated Wenger.

On his decision on who will ​start the game as keeper, Wenger added: “It’s always a difficult decision, but I’ve been clear about that [starting Ospina in the cup matches] from the start of the season. I have two world class keepers and I decided from the start to have clarity in the games they play, I maintain that.”

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Wenger, who seems wary of the dangers Ostersunds possesses, is expected to name a mixed starting team, with some youngsters mixed in with senior stars – one of which will be January signing Henrikh Mkhitaryan as he is cup-tied for Sunday’s final having played in the competition with Manchester United.

“Look at the results of Ostersund in the Europa League and they are quite impressive, home and away. The game demands respect. It would be absolutely stupid for us to go out there and think we could have a stroll. We would have a bad surprise.”

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Arsenal head into the ​matches with Ostersunds and Manchester City in decent form, with the latter of the two matches crucial for the club as a bad result in the match at Wembley could mean Arsenal end the season without silverware with the Premier League out of reach and already being ​knocked out of the FA Cup after losing to Nottingham Forest.

Ending the season without silverware and not securing Champions League football could mean the end of an era for Wenger at Arsenal as the Arsenal board might look somewhere else for leadership.

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Arsene Wenger Reveals When Crocked Star Lacazette Will Return From Knee Injury

​Arsene Wenger has offered an injury update on Alexandre Lacazette after fans feared that he was set for a lengthy spell on the sidelines.

The Frenchman was quoted by ​talkSPORT, ahead of his side’s return leg against Ostersunds in the Europa League last-32 tie, as he revealed the extent of the knee injury sustained by the France international.

Lacazette picked up the problem during his team’s 1-0 north London derby defeat to city rivals Tottenham Hotspur, and some supporters had expected the striker to miss a fair chunk of the remainder of the campaign.

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Wenger, though, explained that Lacazette could be back in around a month’s time after he underwent successful surgery to correct the issue following the injury on 10th February.

Wenger said: “He’s doing well. I think he will be ahead of his planned recovery. It should be four weeks, maybe three and a half weeks, so his response has been good.”

Lacazette had bagged himself nine goals in 29 appearances for the Gunners this term before his knee problem forced him to miss the first leg victory over surprise package Ostersunds last Thursday.

(You may also be interested in ​Arsenal vs Ostersunds FK Match Preview: Key Battle, Team News, Prediction & More)

The 26-year-old has struggled at times to adapt to the rigours of Premier League football, and reports had claimed that his 12-month career at the Emirates was close to coming to an end with the arrival of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

The ex-Borussia Dortmund hotshot was brought in for around £56m last month and has immediately taken Lacazette’s place in the starting lineup. That has led to some speculation that Lacazette may be forced to depart the English capital in search of regular first-team football, but Wenger would be loathe to let the ex-Lyon star leave.

With Alexis Sanchez and Olivier Giroud leaving for Manchester United and Chelsea in the winter window, Lacazette will be required to compete with Aubameyang and Danny Welbeck for the striker’s role in Wenger’s team moving forward.

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