Tag Archives: Ostersunds

Arsenal are through…and that is what ultimately matters

Arsenal through to the last 16 of the Europa League.

And shifting through the BS and disappointment of last night, being through is what is important.

It was an awful performance. A shocking defeat, against a bunch of fishermen from Sweden. On a cold night in North London, an Arsenal second string were hit cold. Two goals in 69 seconds saw a 3-0 lead from the away leg wiped out. Could it happen? Could also go out having had what seem an unassailable lead from the first leg?

Ultimately the unthinkable did not happen. Saed Kolasinac scored early in the second half to five Arsenal a 2 goal cushion and the rest of the game was played out at half pace.

Yesterday has to be up there with one of our worst defeats under Arsene Wenger. Ignore the big defeats against Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea, I am talking about up there with Bradford in the League Cup.

But where as against Bradford, and Nottingham Forest earlier this year, Arsenal exited the competition after losing, yesterday we scrapped through.

This defeat, this game, will soon be forgotten about if in May Arsenal lift the Europa League. No one will care about the defeat, or the Cologne one, or the bore draws in the group stages. Winning the trophy will make up for that.

There is not much you can take out of last night, accept question the attitude of the players.

Bar 2 or 3, this was largely a second string. Still a team filled with internationals though. It is a side that should be fired up, looking to put in big performances to force their way into first team reckoning.

Not for the first time this season, the 2nd string has looked less than good enough. Just look at some of our cup results:

Nottingham Forest 4–2 Arsenal
Arsenal 1–0 Doncaster Rovers
Arsenal 2–1 Norwich City
Borisov 2–4 Arsenal
Red Star Belgrade 0–1 Arsenal
Arsenal 0–0 Red Star Belgrade
FC Köln 1–0 Arsenal
Arsenal  1–2 Östersund

Whilst not every poor performance has ended in a defeat, last minute winners against Norwich City and Red Star Belgrade did not cover up what was a poor performance.

The second string have had a dozen or so games this season to prove they are good enough. They have merely shown that they are not good enough.

What does the future hold for Danny Welbeck and Alex Iwobi?

Welbeck is 27 now. People still talk about his potential, but it is time to face facts and realise that he is not good enough. The same can be said for Alex Iwobi. He might be younger, but he should not have worn an Arsenal shirt as often as he has.

At the back Calum Chambers and Rob Holding have not kicked on. Both looked OK, but both suffered from being overhyped by fans after a few good performances.

Chambers was being labelled “the new Tony Adams” and Rob Holding sung about being “better than Canvarro”. Did we not learn anything from Senderos and Djoruou?

Whether it is down to coaching or both just not being top draw, the defence is a big cause for concern next season. With Per Mertesacker retiring and Laurent Koscielny having long standing injury issues, we need to go out and buy a first choice defender. Chambers and Holding are not good enough. Yet.

I could go on about who is and is not good enough, but I try and keep myself to a word limit. Jack Wilshere is another who struggled and showed why Arsenal are reluctant to offer him a new long term contract on increased terms.

It was just another game where the second string showed they were not good enough

Arsenal’s recent home form in the knockout stages can only be described as laughable:

2013 Arsenal LOSE 3-1 to Bayern Munich
2014 Arsenal LOSE 2-0 to Bayern Munich
2015 Arsenal LOSE 3-1 to Monaco
2016 Arsenal LOSE 2-0 to Barcelona
2017 Arsenal LOSE 5-1 to Bayern Munich
2018 Arsenal LOSE 2-1 Östersunds

6 in a row, against different levels of opposition, all lost.

So we lets look forward rather than backwards. Who can Arsenal face in the last 16:

AC Milan, Athletic Bilbao, Atletico Madrid, CSKA Moscow, Dortmund, D. Kiev, Lazio, Lokomotiv Moscow, Lyon, Marseille, V. Plzen, RB Leipzig, Salzburg. Sporting and Zenit.

It has to be time for Arsene Wenger to scrap the policy of playing his second string and go all out for the cup.

Keenos

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Arsenal’s forgotten game

I have forgotten to take my season ticket to work today. Arsenal are playing tonight and it has been completely forgotten about.

With everyone looking ahead to the League Cup Final on Sunday, and the fall out from the Hector Bellerin Oxford Q&A taking up most of our thoughts at the beginning of the week, tonight’s game has taken a back seat. It has actually been forgotten about by many, including myself.

Having beaten Ostersunds so comfortably in Sweden, it means that the pressure is off tonight. The game should be a formality against the fishermen from Swden.

With Arsenal 3-0 up from the first leg, it is a game which is hard to get excited about, and this is probably why, in the grand scheme of all things Arsenal, it has been forgotten about.

Whilst it is still important to take Ostersunds seriously, they showed nothing when playing in the sub-freezing climate of Scandinavia.

The likes of David Ospina, Calum Chambers, Rob Holding, Per Mertesacker, Saed Kolasinac, Mohamed Elneny, Riess Nelson, Joe Wilock, Danny Welbeck, Henrikh Mkhitaryan (cup tied) and Eddie Nketiah should all get a run out on tonight.

With Mesut Ozil ill (again), Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, cup-tied and other senior players set to have a rest, it will very much be a similar side to that which started in the group stages of this illustrious competition.

Ostersunds should be comfortable. Get an early goal and it is done. It is probably done already. The Ostersunds players have the game of their life. A match against a big team from London, England. They will be star struck.

Cruise through tonight and it is onto the last 16, where we could face the likes of Borussia Dortmund, Atlético Madrid, Napoli, RB Leipzig, Lyon, AC Milan, sporting Lisbon and Marseille.

The draw is on for the round of 16 will be held on Friday 23rd February. After which we can start looking forward to the League Cup proper.

Up The Arsenal

Keenos

Who are Ostersunds?

Founded in the same month that Arsène Wenger became our manager, the Swedish side were created in October 1996 when three local clubs, Ope IF, IFK Ostersund and Ostersund/Torvalla FF, merged together.

A fourth club, Froso IF, joined the following year and the club then began its life in the third tier of Swedish football.

Known in the Allsvenskan for its English links, director of football Daniel Kindberg used his friendship with Roberto Martinez and Graeme Jones to start a partnership with Swansea City – and the Swans even played the inaugural game at their new 8,000-seater Jamtkraft Arena.

Nowadays, its manager Graham Potter who is continuing Ostersunds’ English connections. The  former Football League defender – who is best known for his time with York City – joined after the Swedish side had been relegated to the fourth tier in 2010, and achieved successive promotions during his first two years in charge.

Two years later they had been promoted once more, this time becoming an Allsvenskan side for the very first time in their existence, and then they lifted their first major trophy, the Svenska Cupen, after beating six-time champions IFK Norrkoping 4-1 in the final.

Their Europa League record has been equally as impressive this season. After earning a shock win over Galatasaray in the second qualifying round, Saman Ghoddos’ two goals helped them reach the group stage of the competition.

 

From there it just got better for them, finishing second in a group featuring Athletic Bilbao and Hertha Berlin after only losing one game. They are the Sweden’s sole representative in this year’s competition, and the only Swedish club to have ever progressed beyond the Europa League group stage.

Keenos