Four weeks after we were last in Europa League action, we host Bodo/Glimt in our first European home game since the semi-final against Villarreal in May 2021.
It is an opportunity for us to climb to the top of Group A, leapfrogging our opponents in the process who currently lead the way with four points from their opening two games.
Following the postponement of our home game against PSV Eindhoven, this is the first of five group games in five weeks, with our return trip to Norway coming seven days after this first-ever encounter between the two teams. It will also be the first European game to be held without capacity limits at Emirates Stadium since February 2020.
Bodo’s bounce continues
The club is based in Bodo, one of the world’s northernmost towns which is 200m north of the Arctic Circle, and are enjoying the greatest period in their 105-year history since winning promotion in 2017.
In that time they have finished runners-up in 2019, before winning back-to-back league titles to add to their solitary other success back in 1993. Last season, they capped a glorious campaign by reaching the Europa Conference League quarter-finals, where they were eliminated by eventual winners Roma, who’d they thrashed 6-1 in the group stage.
Their current success has come with Kjetil Knutson at the helm, who has been in charge since 2018 and has been named the country’s Coach of the Year for the past three seasons.
Their season so far
Bodo find themselves in the Europa League this season after being eliminated from the Champions League qualifiers by Dinamo Zagreb in the final play-off round. Before then, they had beaten KI Klaksvig of the Faroe Islands 4-3 on aggregate, overturning a 1-0 first leg defeat into an 8-1 aggregate win over Linfield before cruising past Lithuanian side Zalgiris.
They remain unbeaten in the opening two group games, having drawn 1-1 with PSV in Eindhoven after recent signing Albert Gronbaek opened the scoring before Cody Gakpo equalised. They then beat FC Zurich 2-1 after an own goal and a strike from Hugo Vetlesen put them 2-0 up before the Swiss side netted late on through Donis Avdijaj.
As they play in a summer league, Bodo are nearing the end of their domestic season and with six games remaining sit in second spot, 15 points behind champions-elect Molde.
What to expect
Michael Cox, writing in the matchday programme: Knutsen almost religiously sticks to a 4-3-3 system, which features one midfielder sitting deep and the others pushing forward aggressively into the channels.
Although Bodo/Glimt dominate possession in league matches, in European competition they’re a little more likely to strike quickly on the counter-attack. They’re also an effective side, pushing up quickly and trying to regain possession in advanced positions.
Patrick Berg is a classic holding midfielder, but his midfield colleagues are more adventurous. Ulrik Saltnes pushes forward into goalscoring positions, and Hugo Vetlesen has chipped in with some excellent goals.
Going forward, the main threat is Amahl Pellegrino, limited to a single substitute appearance in this season’s Europa League so far, but scoring at a rate of a goal per game in the Eliteserien. He’s likely to start on the left and cut inside to shoot, and also has a knack of scoring headed goals. It feels like Knutsen hasn’t yet found the right combination in the final third, but Bodo/Glimt still play wonderfully cohesive attacking football.
As it stands
What the managers say
Arteta on Bodo: “We’ve done our homework. We have made the players aware of the team that we are facing tomorrow, the history and what they’ve done in the last few years.
“There are a few really good players and it’s a really good coach as well, and they have a clear identity with how they play. You can see straight away what they are trying to do and again I’ve been impressed with them.” - read or watch his whole pre-match press conference
Knutsen on us: "Our opponent leads the Premier League and is one of the best teams in Europe. It is a fantastic test of what Bodo/Glimt is. We are looking forward to testing ourselves at a new, high level.
"It is difficult to say what will be your XI, but it doesn't really matter. They have the types and similar players in the positions. They are patient, attack in the same way as us and give a lot of space. Now we really get to test ourselves at the highest level. The only thing we have to do is dare to be ourselves, and challenge what are their weaknesses. "
It remains to be seen whether Arteta will shuffle his pack as he did in Zurich, where he handed starts to the likes of Eddie Nketiah, Fabio Vieira, Marquinhos and Matt Turner.
However, Emile Smith Rowe (groin) and Mohamed Elneny (hamstring) are both out.
Knutson has a virtually fully-fit squad to pick from with Sondre Fet missing long-term with a knee injury, while fellow midfielder Gaute Vetti is also doubtful.
Facts and stats
No player has created more chances following a carry (moving 5+ metres with the ball) than Marquinhos in the UEFA Europa League this term (4); despite the Brazilian only having played 69 minutes so far.
In all European competitions, Bodo/Glimt have won just one of their last 13 away matches (D7 L5), a 3-1 victory at Celtic in February last season. They’ve also kept just one clean sheet in that run, a goalless draw at CSKA Sofia last season.
We have failed to win any of our last three home matches in European competition (D2 L1), our worst run since going six home games without a victory between October 2002 and September 2003.
Bodo/Glimt have never previously faced an English side in any European competition. They have faced two British sides before, eliminating Celtic in last season’s UEFA Europa Conference League play-off round, and Linfield in this season’s UEFA Champions League qualifying.
German official Harm Osmers will be the man in the middle, which is the first time he has taken charge of one of our games. He has officiated in the Bundesliga since 2016, and is in his third season overseeing FIFA-affiliated matches.
Across his 12 appointments this season, including domestic, European and international competitions, he has brandished 57 yellow cards already but just one red and awarded four penalties. Outside of football, he works as an investment controller.
- Referee: Harm Osmers
- Assistant Referee 1: Robert Kempter
- Assistant Referee 2: Dominik Schaal
- Fourth Official: Robert Schroder
- VAR: Bastian Dankert
- Assistant VAR: Ovidiu Alin Hategan
Previous meetings with Norwegian clubs
We have faced Norwegian opposition on three previous occasions. The first time saw us win 7-1 over two legs against Stromsgodset in the first round of the 1971/72 European Cup, before we faced Rosenberg in the group stage of the 2004/05 Champions League. A 1-1 draw in Norway was followed by an emphatic 5-1 win at Highbury.
Two years ago we were drawn with Molde in our Europa League group, who we defeated 4-1 thanks to two own goals and strikes from Joe Willock and Pepe, with the latter also getting on the scoresheet alongside Reiss Nelson and Folarin Balogun in the return game.
Tune in from 7pm for our live matchday show, previewing tonight's game. Nick Bright and Adrian Clarke will be in the My Arsenal Rewards box giving you an insight to the Norwegian champions, and we take a look at how Arsenal Thessaloniki spend matchday in the latest instalment of our International Diary series.
There's also a chance to win a giant poster of our number nine, Gabriel Jesus, signed by the man himself, before live commentary comes from Russell Hargreaves and Arsenal legend Nigel Winterburn.
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