Those who read my regular ramblings know that I am a fan of Malmo FF, the Swedish champions. Why do I bring this up? Because I am one of the very few Gooners who have actually seen Ostersund play. I had the misfortune of seeing Graham Potter’s side win 3-0 in Malmo, it was a rare and chastening home defeat.
What can I tell you of Ostersund? Only that they will be better than you expect. They will be industrious, organised and determined. Likely to focus on a solid defensive foundation and hoping to score on breakaways or set-pieces. We have seen it work so often before which is why so many teams set-up this way against The Arsenal. Wins over Galatasary and PAOK show that Ostersund can beat quality opposition.
Much is being made of the weather, it is cold, probably worse for the spectators than the players who can run around. Ospina will be worried!
Sweden, like all the Scandi countries, have a winter break and only started playing last weekend. I am not sure if this is of benefit to them or us. What is certain is that if AFC do not win tonight there will be yet another anti-AW outcry and a few thousand N17 muppets laughing.
Wenger has to play his best available team. The Europa has become our primary focus and Arsenal cannot afford to lose. Koscielny desperately needs a break and I would bench the chap.
Chambers Mustafi Monreal
Bellerin Xhaka Wilshere Iwobi
If fit, Ramsey has to play, we desperately missed him in the NLD.
Given this an away fixture, anything is possible. Perhaps AW will want to shore up the defence and play Elneny and Kolasinac or even M-N.
We should win against a team who are the financial equivalent of Barnet having spent less than €100k assembling their squad.
In Days of Old, with fixtures like this, we would go away, use squad members to get a draw and win easily at home. Will AW have the confidence to try that tonight? I certainly hope not.