The Breakdown

The Breakdown: Ostersunds v Arsenal preview

We’re back in Europa League action on Thursday when we play the first leg of our last-32 clash at Ostersunds.

Ahead of the game, tactical expert Michael Cox examines our Swedish opponents in more detail.


MC: Ostersunds are managed by Englishman Graham Potter, who enjoyed a long playing career with more than 300 appearances in the Football League, primarily with Birmingham, Stoke, West Brom, York and Macclesfield. He took charge of fourth-tier Ostersunds in early 2011 and took them to two consecutive promotions, and then top-flight football for the first time in their history. Last year's Swedish Cup victory took them into the qualifying rounds of this competition, where they shocked Galatasaray to earn a group-stage place.

AC: They have a good record and they’re very disciplined under Graham Potter, who’s just done an unbelievable job. He will have a gameplan here because he’s a very smart, young coach. Don’t go thinking this is going to be an absolute thrashing. I think the second leg will be alive, but Arsenal have just got to get on with it. They are having a break in between because they’re out of the FA Cup. It gives you the opportunity to rest up so there are absolutely no excuses


MC: Potter is a tactical chameleon and has deployed a variety of systems in the Europa League this season, starting more frequently with a three-man defence than a back four. The one constant has been the midfield partnership of Brwa Nouri and the diminutive Fouad Bachirou, who will sit in front of the defence and invite Arsenal to go wide.


MC: Ostersunds might be underdogs for this tie, but they're also a good footballing side who hold onto the ball for long periods in midfield, before spreading the ball wide and getting their full-backs or wing-backs forward on the overlap. Arsenal will probably see more of the ball, but Ostersunds are unlikely to park the bus.


MC: Saman Ghoddos was Ostersunds' top goalscorer in last season's Europa League with eight - and he also managed four assists. An aggressive, mobile centre forward also capable of playing out wide, he'll look to work the channels on the counter-attack.


MC: Ostersunds are a good technical side but have sometimes looked vulnerable when defending set-pieces in the Europa League - this might be a promising route to goal for Arsenal.

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