Ostersunds 0-3 Arsenal

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‘You can see that Mkhitaryan is adapting to us’

Mesut Ozil celebrates his goal against Ostersunds

The Gunners overcame freezing temperatures and an artificial playing surface to secure a commanding first-leg lead over Ostersunds.

Afterwards Arsène Wenger spoke to the media about his team selection, the pitch and the performances of Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

on the result justifying a strong team selection…
Yes, the risk at the start was that I didn’t know how tough the pitch would be for our players. But overall we have no game over the weekend, so it was an easier decision. The only risk was the injuries. I’m happy we had no problems and the pitch was quite good.

on Maitland-Niles’ performance in central midfield…
It’s his natural position. I think 80 per cent of his game was good, and I feel he can win the ball back well. Defensively he’s quite strong, he’s got good acceleration and it’s a positive game for a first run.

on if he could see plastic pitches being used in England…
No, I believe that in England we have good groundsmen. Personally I prefer grass but I can understand in conditions like that to have this kind of surface.

on Mkhitaryan’s performance…
He has worked very hard and it was a positive performance. He adapts slowly to the team and overall he had a positive game tonight. 


Watch all the goals against Ostersunds

Goals from Nacho Monreal, Mesut Ozil and an own goal gave us a 3-0 victory over Ostersunds FK in Sweden on Thursday night.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan also played a big role in the win by providing two more assists while David Ospina ensured the clean sheet by saving a penalty in stoppage time.

You can watch highlights from our win by pressing the 'play' button above.


What Micki and Welbz made of Ostersunds win

Henrikh Mkhitaryan is enjoying a promising start to his Arsenal career.

Our Armenian playmaker set up two of our three goals - his fourth and fifth assists in an Arsenal shirt - in the win at Ostersunds on Thursday and, after the game, Mkhitaryan and Danny Welbeck spoke to the media. Here’s what they said:

on the game…
DW: Yeah, the pitch was a bit hard but obviously we knew that, coming here to this pitch today, that it was going to be a bit difficult. With the players they’ve got, they like to keep the ball and manipulate it around the back. We had to keep our cool and show our patience with the ball ourselves. I thought sometimes we could have maybe played it forward a bit quicker and caught them out, but it was a nice and professional performance.

on the start…
HM: I think it was their first game for a while. We are in the season, so we keep playing and we are more practiced. But I can say, they have got a very good team, they try to show off their ability and skills, but we scored two goals at the beginning and it helped us easily.

on the importance of the competition - and trying to win it again…
HM: Why not? We have to keep fighting, we have to win every game and then at the end, we’ll see where we’re at.

on his return - and whether the Europa League is a big opportunity for him…
DW: Obviously, it’s a 3G pitch out there. I’ve had some knee injuries in the past but I made sure that I did my rehab pretty well. You hear little stories about coming and playing on 3G pitches after knee injuries, but I felt fine. The pitch was just a bit hard. I’m just looking forward to getting more minutes under my belt.

on the job being done and now players can rest for the second leg in order to prepare for the Carabao Cup final…
No, I don’t think so. Because we have to focus in every game. It doesn’t matter if we have got a good result or not. We have to win in every game to get more confidence and to have better success. It doesn’t matter who we are going to play after the second leg, yes, we have a game in the cup final but we have to play with the same team, I think, and to win at home.


Who was our best player at Ostersunds?

Nacho Monreal and Henrikh Mkhitaryan celebrate against Ostersunds

We put ourselves in a commanding position in our last-32 Europa League tie against Ostersunds, courtesy of a 3-0 win in Sweden on Thursday.

Nacho Monreal scored his fifth goal of the season, Henrikh Mkhitaryan chipped in with two assists and Mesut Ozil completed the scoring to give us a comprehensive win. But who impressed you most? Make sure you vote below. 

Post-Match Report

Ostersunds 0-3 Arsenal: How it happened

What happened

We overcame sub-zero temperatures on an artificial pitch to secure a healthy first-leg advantage in the Europa League round of 32.
On our first trip to Sweden since 1999, goals from Nacho Monreal , Mesut Ozil and an own goal - with Henrikh Mkhitaryan providing two more assists - have put us firmly in control of this tie. David Ospina's late penalty save also preserved a welcome clean sheet on the road.
The Swedes, managed by Englishman Graham Potter, were unbeaten at home in six Europa League games so far this season, but the Gunners were too strong on the night and we are firm favourites to progress now.
After finding our feet on the artificial surface, passing the ball around while the hosts camped out in their own half, we took the lead inside the opening quarter of an hour.
Monreal was the goalscorer - keeping up his recent hot streak in front of goal. He was on hand to finish from close range after Alex Iwobi's shot was spilled by goalkeeper Aly Keita. It was the left back's fifth goal of the campaign - he had only scored three in his time at the club prior to the start of this season.
Danny Welbeck had already seen a header go wide from close range, while Mkhitaryan had a goalbound shot cleared off the line by the diving defender Sotirios Papagiannopoulos.
It was one-way traffic in the first half hour, with us enjoying nearly 80 per cent of the possession.
The second goal was on the cards, and Mkhitaryan was the architect. His low cross was turned into his own net by Papagiannopoulos, under pressure from Welbeck.
The hosts were now forced to abandon their defensive approach, and started making chances of their own. Ospina - captain for the night - saved well from Saman Ghoddos then held a Ken Sema free-kick.
We extended our lead just before the hour mark. Ozil exchanged passes with Mkhitaryan, burst into the box, then squeezed his shot just under the keeper.
The pace of the game slowed after the third goal - youngsters Eddie Nketiah and Reiss Nelson were introduced for the final ten minutes or so.
We were dictating the tempo now and Ostersunds - who are still in domestic pre-season - were tiring.
Right at the end, the hosts had a chance to score on what was the biggest match of their 21-year history.
Hector Bellerin conceded a penalty in stoppage time, bringing down Tesfaldet Tekie, but Ospina dived to his right to save Tom Pettersson's low spot kick.
The job is half-done - now to complete the task in London next week.

What it means

We take a commanding lead into the second leg, with three away goals to boot. It means we are well placed to progress to the last 16 of the competition.

What's next

We don't play again until the return match at Emirates Stadium next Thursday. That game kicks off at 8.05pm and comes just three days before the Carabao Cup final against Manchester City at Wembley.

Welbeck watch

With Alexandre Lacazette injured and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang ineligible for the Europa League, the attacking spotlight fell on Danny Welbeck. Here are some of the England man's best moments.
8 - Danny has our first effort on goal, but his close-range header floats wide
25 - Welbeck was the closest to Papagiannopoulos inside the area when the Ostersunds defender turned Mkhitaryan's cross into his own goal
34 - After being set up by Iwobi on the counter attack, Welbeck fired well over from a wide angle
71 - Often drifting wide, Danny tees up Nacho Monreal in the box, but the defender's shot is charged down
81 - Just before being brought off, Welbeck curls a shot from 20 yards just wide of the post

Press conference

Wenger - We won in a comfortable way

Arsenal have one foot in the next round of the Europa League after a comfortable 3-0 win over Ostersunds.

After the game, Arsène Wenger spoke to the media about the game, his plans for the return match and the importance of David Ospina's late penalty save.
on a comfortable night…
Yes, I think we adapted quite well to the pitch. They were maybe a bit cautious at the start and we took advantage of it. I feel at 2-0 at half-time, it was important for us not to concede a goal and win the second half. I felt there was room to score one or two more in the second half but we were in control and once we went 2-0 up, overall we won in a comfortable way.

on if he’ll rest players in the second leg…
I don’t know, I don’t think I will rest. We’ll try to win the game again. Maybe we’ll rotate the players who did not play tonight and rest one or two who played tonight.
on what he made of Ostersunds and if anyone impressed him…
Yes, overall I believe they played well. They didn’t give up, they continued to fight until the last minute. Their captain was impressive, I think he’s a very good player, and the midfielder who came on as well. It’s a good side who had a positive attitude in the game. I can understand now, having seen them tonight, why they made so many good results in the Europa League.

on the importance of Ospina’s penalty save…
For me it was important not to tarnish a little bit our performance. I think we were a bit too easy on that situation and it could have left a bitter taste.