Östersund, led by unsung English coach Graham Potter, were defeated 3-0 at home by Premier League aristocrats Arsenal in the first leg of this round of 32 tie, but the European debutants will treasure the experience of playing in one of English football’s largest stadiums whatever the outcome.

• The Swedish side have already enjoyed a lengthy maiden European adventure, qualifying as the runners-up of Group J behind Athletic Club – and only on head-to-head records after both amassed 11 points. Arsenal, meanwhile, cruised through their first UEFA Europa League group stage, clinching top spot in Group H with a game to spare.

Previous meetings
• The Gunners cruised to a first-leg victory against their out-of-season hosts in icy central Sweden, Nacho Monreal opening the scoring before a Sotirios Papagiannaopolos own goal. Mesut Özil made it 3-0 just before the hour and Östersund, who had never previously lost at home in Europe, were denied a late consolation when David Ospina saved Tom Pettersson’s penalty.

• In each of the other two seasons that Arsenal have faced a team from Sweden, they have gone on to reach a European final – and lose it on penalties after a goalless draw.

• The Gunners defeated IFK Göteborg 5-1 on aggregate in the 1979/80 European Cup Winners’ Cup quarter-finals en route to losing the final on spot kicks to Valencia in Brussels. Twenty years later they were shoot-out sufferers once again against Galatasaray in Copenhagen in the final of the UEFA Cup, having beaten AIK at home (3-1, with Fredrik Ljungberg among the Gunners’ scorers) and away (3-2) in the UEFA Champions League first group stage.

Highlights: Östersund 0-3 Arsenal

Form guide
• Arsenal are unbeaten at home in eight UEFA Cup and UEFA Europa League matches (W6 D2), their last defeat coming against Borussia Mönchengladbach at their old Highbury stadium in the 1996/97 first round (2-3).

• The Gunners have lost all of their last five home games in the UEFA Champions League knockout phase, conceding 15 goals.

• Arsenal have prolonged their European campaign into the spring for the 19th successive year – all under Arsène Wenger.

• Östersund have a perfectly balanced record of two wins, two draws and two defeats in their six European encounters outside Sweden. They posted one win, one draw and one defeat on their travels in the group stage.

• Östersund are the first Swedish club to qualify for the knockout phase of the UEFA Europa League. Four others – AIK, Elfsborg, Helsingborg and Malmö – have competed in the group stage but made no further progress. Indeed, the three victories Östersund posted in this season’s group stage matched the number managed by those four clubs put together.

• Arsenal are making their UEFA Europa League debut this season; their last European campaign outside the UEFA Champions League was the 1999/2000 UEFA Cup, which ended with that penalty shoot-out defeat in the final against Galatasaray. They defeated French club Nantes in that season’s third round, or last 32, winning 3-0 at home and drawing 3-3 away.

• First-time Swedish Cup winners in 2016/17, Östersund are enjoying an exceptional debut UEFA campaign, having eliminated Galatasaray, Fola Esch and PAOK during the qualifying phase and booked their passage to the round of 32 with a game to spare.

• Arsenal have prevailed in all 13 UEFA competition ties in which they won the first leg away from home, the most recent instance being in the 2013/14 UEFA Champions League play-offs, when they beat Fenerbahçe 3-0 in Istanbul before winning the return 2-0 in north London. The only other occasion on which they triumphed 3-0 away in a first leg was against Dinamo Zagreb in the 2006/07 UEFA Champions League third qualifying round (2-1 home).

UEFA Europa League squad changes
In: Santi Cazorla, Konstantinos Mavropanos, Henrikh Mkhitaryan
Out: Chuba Akpom, Krystian Bielik, Francis Coquelin, Mathieu Debuchy, Olivier Giroud, Marcus McGuane, Tafari Moore, Julio Pleguezuelo, Jeff Reine-Adélaïde, Alexis Sánchez, Ben Sheaf, Theo Walcott

In: Dino Islamovic, Noah Sonko Sundberg, Tesfaldet Tekie
Out: Fouad Bachirou, Tim Björkström, Gabriel Somi

Links and trivia
• Arsenal’s Laurent Koscielny played in both of France’s matches against Sweden in the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign, winning 2-1 at home and losing 2-1 away.

• Östersund coach Potter played for Birmingham, Wycombe, Stoke, Southampton, West Brom, Northampton, Reading, York, Boston, Shrewsbury and Macclesfield; he was also capped once by England Under-21s.

• Four Östersund players – Douglas Bergqvist, Jamie Hopcutt, Samuel Mensah and Curtis Edwards – have made senior appearances at various levels of English football.

• Östersund concluded their 2017 Swedish Allsvenskan campaign on 5 November. They finished fifth – the highest final placing in the club’s history – 14 points behind champions Malmö. The 2018 Allsvenskan season starts on 1 April.

• Suspended for next match if booked: Curtis Edwards, Ronald Mukiibi (Östersund).

Penalty shoot-outs
• Arsenal’s record in UEFA penalty shoot-outs is W2 L2:
4-5 v Valencia, 1979/80 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup final
3-2 v Sampdoria, 1994/95 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup semi-final
1-4 v Galatasaray, 1999/2000 UEFA Cup final
7-6 v Roma, 2008/09 UEFA Champions League round of 16

• Östersund have yet to feature in a UEFA penalty shoot-out.

The coaches
• Arsène Wenger has been the Arsenal manager since 1996, leading the Gunners to three English titles, a record seven FA Cup wins and the 2006 UEFA Champions League final. A player of modest repute, he made his name as a coach with Nancy and Monaco in his native France before moving to Japan for a brief spell with Nagoya Grampus 8. He is the longest serving manager in the Premier League.

• Englishman Graham Potter has steered Östersund from the Swedish fourth tier to the UEFA Europa League knockout phase – picking up the club’s first ever major trophy, the Swedish Cup, en route – since taking the reins in 2011. He played for a number of clubs at various levels of England’s Football League – chiefly as a full-back – as well as eight games in the 1996/97 Premier League for Southampton.

Source link