23rd May 2018

EUROPA LEAGUE ARSENAL FACE SWEDISH MINNOWS

ARSENAL FACE SWEDISH MINNOWS

15th February 2018

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger believes Ostersunds FK's run to the last 32 of the Europa League is no fluke.

The Swedish minnows beat Hertha Berlin and drew with Athletic Bilbao on their way to finishing second in their group.

Ostersund's English boss Graham Potter has said the tie has parallels with an FA Cup third-round game, but Wenger is wary of his side's opponents.

"When I saw them play, I understood why they did well against Bilbao and Berlin," he said.

"It wasn't a coincidence."

Arsenal face Ostersund in their last-32 first-leg tie on Thursday with just one recognised striker available - Danny Welbeck.

Alexandre Lacazette is out for up to six weeks following knee surgery, while former Borussia Dortmund striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is ineligible to play in the competition.

"Danny Welbeck looks sharper than he has in a long time," Wenger added.

"He had to wait a little to get back into the team, but that gave him time to work on his fitness."

Laurent Koscielny and Jack Wilshere did not travel to Sweden, both players having Achilles injuries.

Ostersund have enjoyed a rapid rise since Potter took charge seven years ago and he has overseen the club's meteoric ascent from the Swedish fourth division to the top flight.

Now they welcome Arsenal, and Potter agrees Thursday's game has similarities with classic FA Cup ties, when a lower league side is drawn against a Premier League team.

"In some ways I know where you are coming from in terms of the small team against the big team, absolutely," he said when asked to compare the tie to an FA Cup match.

"Normally in the third round of the FA Cup you have not beaten Galatasaray or PAOK or Hertha Berlin. But in terms of the size of the two teams, absolutely.

"We are obviously all excited about the game and the visit of Arsenal, a Champions League club."

Wellbeck has a chance to shine and he might be worth punting to score - Arsenal will be disappointed not to score at least one. BET365 offer 6/5 about anytime with the Gunners 1/2 shots to win the tie. A better bet though might be Mesut Ozil who will play a supporting role upfront and at 21/10 to score anytime is far better value.

Joe Ross