14th of February 2018 Author: Johnny Karp
The only English side still left in the Europa League this season has a chilly evening ahead, Arsenal travel to Sweden to face surprise package Oestersunds. The two teams have never met before because Oestersunds were only founded in 1996 and never participated in an European competition before. However, Arsenal have played against Swedish teams on four occasions and they have recorded three wins and a draw. The last of those meetings was in 1999, when the Gunners beat AIK Stockholm in both Champions League group stage matches.
Oestersunds are living a dream, the club was founded in 1996 and only managed to break into the top flight of Swedish football in 2016. Last season they won the first trophy in the history of the club, the Swedish Cup, and earned the right to play in the Europa League. Somehow they finished second in Group J behind Athletic Bilbao, with just one defeat recorded. Moreover, they have beaten both Hertha Berlin and Zorya Luhansk at home and held Athletic Bilbao to a goalless draw. Their disadvantage is that they only re-started their season last week as the Swedish league has a very long winter break. Hosam Aiesh, Smajl Suljevic and Johan Bertilsson are all injured.
Arsenal continued to show terrible away form last weekend as they lost the North London Derby 1-0 to Tottenham. The Gunners had an unconvincing performance and are now eight points behind fourth-placed Chelsea, making their chances of qualifying for the Champions League through their Premier League placement quite unrealistic. The Europa League would be their best chance of reaching the Champions League, but Arsene Wenger has a real problem in attack ahead of this match as Alexandre Lacazette is out for around a month with a knee injury and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is ineligible to play in the Europa League this season as his former club are still in the competition.
Oestersunds: Keita - Mukiibi, Papagiannopoulos, Pettersson - Edwards, Nouri, Bergqvist, Sema - Islamovic, Gero, Ghoddos
Arsenal: Ospina - Chambers, Mertesacker, Holding - Nelson, Elneny, Willock, Kolasinac - Mkhitaryan, Iwobi - Welbeck
My prediction: Arsenal to win 1-0.
Here are the odds for the match at Bet365:
Oestersunds win - 6.50
Draw - 4.33
Arsenal win - 1.50
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Obviously Arsenal have to put all their efforts in this tournament after PL top race looks to be failure already and that's is only realistic chance for them playing CL football next season.
There are still some very good teams left in the tournament and it's not going to be easy for them but certainly Ostersunds is not one of them and Arsenall will progress to the next round.
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