Arsenal 1-2 Östersund (4-2 agg): Europa League second leg – as it happened

Michael Butler on 22 February 2018

Graham Potter shakes Arsene Wenger’s hand and the Ostersund players go to greet their adoring fans. It will be interesting to see if they can have a tilt at the Swedish title in 2018. A lot depends on whether they can hang onto their star players and their manager.

Thanks for your emails and your tweets, it’s been fun. Bye!

Graham Potter applauds the fans at the end of the match.
Graham Potter applauds the fans at the end of the match. Photograph: Eddie Keogh/Reuters


Full-time: Arsenal 1-2 Ostersund (4-2 agg)

That’s it. Arsenal are through, Ostersund are out. But it is a magnificent performance from the Swedish side. The biggest credit I can give them is that I genuinely thought at half-time that they could pull off the upset, such was the quality of their play. A silly error at the beginning of the second half took away their momentum, but it’s still probably the best result in their history.


90+2 min: Most of the Arsenal fans have gone home. All of the Ostersund’s fans have their scarves above their heads, and are still in belting form. Bravo.

90+1 min: Chance for Welbeck, but still he can’t get his goal. He wins the ball back from a tired-looking Widgren, has one defender to beat in Papagiannopoulos, and can only drag a shot straight at Keita’s legs.

90 min: Referee Ivan Kruzliak falls over. Referees falling over will never not be funny. Three minutes added on here.


88 min: Mkhitaryan is booked for a late challenge on Chambers, to cap a miserable night for the Armenian.

87 min: Iwobi can’t shoot with his laces to save his life. There, I said it.

86 min: Ostersund are blowing, Edwards and Papagiannopoulos in particular, the former picking up a booking. Kolasinac is having more and more joy down Arsenal’s left, but some last ditch tackles and brave goalkeeping from Keita stop any danger.

85 min: Just goes to show how much quality Ghoddos does have. He reminds me a little bit of a right-footed Fekir.

84 min: Chance for Islamovic! Ooooo, that was close! Kolasinac gives Ghoddos far too much room, the Iranian crosses and Islamovic steals in ahead of Chambers, flicks the ball on and the ball squirts just wide of the far post. Ospina was nowhere, that was about a yard wide.

Ostersunds come close to a third as Islamovic’s flick goes just wide.
Ostersunds come close to a third as Islamovic’s flick goes just wide. Photograph: Marc Atkins/Offside/Getty Images


82 min: Another update from Mats Gustavsson. “Obviously the Östersund faithful are now chanting ‘4 - 1’. Ex-Southampton midfield wizard Anders Svensson acts impressed on TV.”

80 min: Ostersund make their final change: Arhin on for Hopcutt, who has been very impressive tonight, but has run out of puff.

78 min: It’s taken 77 minutes, but this is Arsenal’s first sustained possession of the match. A good three minutes pass without Ostersund having a kick. They are strangling the game, as Arsenal fans appear to start filtering out of the stadium.

Ostersund’s fans, meanwhile, are in excellent voice. And why not, they are beating Arsenal.

75 min: Arsenal make a change, and it is Wilshere that comes off, Willock on.

74 min: Wilshere looks like he’s taken a knock, goes down holding his ankle. Wenger won’t like that, especially with Sunday in mind. Mkhitaryan also goes down grimacing, but he’s cup tied for Sunday’s final. He’s also been dreadful tonight.

72 min: Second change for Ostersund, and it’s an attacking one: Islamovic, a new signing, a forward and the club’s No99, comes on for Mukiibi, who made the mistake for Arsenal’s goal.

Ostersund appear to be playing without a right back now. The game is opening up.


70 min: Back come Ostersund. Hopcutt swaps passes with Nouri and fires a low shot on goal, but Holding does well to block.

69 min: One more Arsenal goal and you’d say the tie is done. As it stands, if Ostersund score two goals without reply, they are through.

68 min: Chance for Welbeck! Wow, this is actually quite a bad miss. Welbeck is obviously lacking in confidence. Iwobi does well to work some space, he dinks a cross to the near post and Welbeck has a free header, in the centre of the goal, six yards out, but only directs it straight into Keita’s gut.

65 min: “As an Arsenal fan I’d love to see the Gunners lose, just to see exactly how much rope Wenger has at Arsenal,” emails Matthew Stephens. “If losing to a Swedish team in its off-season doesn’t get him fired, presumably nothing would, short of him committing some kind of capital offence?”

63 min: The pace of the game has dropped off a little. That might be down to fitness, remember Ostersund’s domestic league season ended in November and doesn’t start again until April. Elneny breaks from deep with the ball and fires a long-range shot at Keita, who palms it safely wide. Comfortable enough save, but well hit.

60 min: Ghoddos meanwhile, arguably Ostersund’s most dangerous player, has gone a little quiet after a brilliant first half. A few neat touches but he’s having to come deeper to get the ball now. Still remarkable to think he only cost Ostersund £65,000. Ostersund have just signed him to a new contract and have reportedly just turned down a £5.5m offer from Celta Vigo.

58 min: Very impressed with Nouri at the base of midfield. He was brought off at half-time in the first leg, but has bossed the midfield. I don’t think he’s lost the ball once, apart from that failed trap of the ball in the first half, a spurned opportunity for Ostersund.

55 min: This has been an encouraging response from Ostersund. They could have easily gone into themselves after conceding that goal, but look like they’ve still got the confidence to take the ball to Arsenal. Hopcutt skips past Kolasinac like he isn’t there. It’s been an excellent performance from the Englishman thus far.

53 min: Chance for Ostersund! A free-kick wide on the left is flicked on at the near post and Mukiibi steals in at the back post – can he poke it home? No! Ospina bravely gets down well to smother it. Good goalkeeping.

David Ospina saves bravely at the feet of Ronald Mukiibi.
David Ospina saves bravely at the feet of Ronald Mukiibi. Photograph: Marc Atkins/Offside/Getty Images


50 min: Graham Potter doesn’t hang about, he’s making a change: Tekie comes on for Aiesh, who got the first goal for Ostersund.

GOAL! Arsenal 1-2 Ostersund (Kolasinac, 47, 4-2 agg)

That’s a shame, from a neutral’s point of view. But 90% of the Emirates breathes a huge sigh of relief. To be fair to Arsenal, they came out this second half like a train. Kolasinac beats his man and plays the ball inside, and suddenly Arsenal have four on four at the back. The ball goes wide on the right, Bellerin crosses to the back post and a horribly mis-kick from Mukiibi allows Kolasinac to volley the ball into the top corner from six yards out. Ooooo, that’s a terrible error.

Sead Kolasinac scores to ease Arsenal’s nerves.
Sead Kolasinac scores to ease Arsenal’s nerves. Photograph: Catherine Ivill/Getty Images


46 min: Arsenal are looking to sure up the midfield, so naturally Wenger has brought on Granit Xhaka. He replaces Maitland-Niles, who was booked and had a torrid first half in central midfield.

“It’s amazing to see the difference in results now that both teams have each had a chance to play on a surface more suited to their abilities,” quips Robbie Borowczyk from Gammelstad in northern Sweden.

Peeeeeeeep! We’re off again.

“Just to clarify: The Östersund supporters are chanting “4 - 0”, in case your Swedish is a bit rusty.” emails Mats Gustavsson, which sounds like a suspiciously Swedish name to me.

It is, so thanks.


Fair point.

“Chambers can’t defend, Michael,” emails Ruth Purdue. “His decision making and positioning can no longer be ignored now.”

I don’t disagree with that. Holding can defend, but simply isn’t good enough with the ball at his feet, if Arsenal want to be a Champions League club again. Bellerin is good enough, but has been woefully out of position tonight, tactically he seems all at sea.

They probably don’t need reminding, but this competition is wide open for Arsenal to win. Earlier, Napoli went out on away goals to RB Leipzig, and Dortmund are 45 minutes away from going out to Atalanta on away goals. If Arsenal can get through this tie, they will probably be second favourites to win it (after Atlético, who cruised past Copenhagen).

Check on all the latest scores here.

Check on our match report of Celtic’s defeat at Zenit.

Half-time: Arsenal 0-2 Ostersund (3-2 agg)

Probably the worst half of football I have ever seen from Arsenal. Definitely the best half I have seen from Ostersund (I’ve seen two others).

“Emiratestanbul anyone?” emails Jonny Mac.

Ostersunds’ Saman Ghoddos takes a free-kick towards the end of the first half.
Ostersunds’ Saman Ghoddos takes a free-kick towards the end of the first half. Photograph: Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images


45+1 min: Arsenal seem content to pass it square, square, backwards, square. Very strange why they don’t want to put pressure on Ostersund, who are down to 10 men.

45 min: Two minutes added on here at the end of the half.

43 min: Yellow card for Maitland-Niles, who quelled a dangerous Ostersund counter-attack by hauling Nouri to the turf. Maitland-Niles again got the wrong side, Elneny was again nowhere to be seen. These two are having an absolute stinker. And Ostersund still have 10 men! Pettersson is still receiving stitches on the Ostersund bench for his head injury!

41 min: Chance for Wilshere, who skies a golden chance after the ball bounced loose in Ostersund’s penalty box.

38 min: Pettersson has now had to go off with a blood injury, crashing his head into his team-mates’ elbow. Ostersund are down to 10 men for now, they need to hold out until the break!

37 min: Wilshere takes the resulting free-kick quickly, skips past Widgren and plays a delightful pass inside the full-back to Bellerin, who gets to the byline. It’s Pettersson who gets back though, a second wonderful sliding tackle inside 30 seconds.

36 min: Inch-perfect challenge from Pettersson on Mkhitaryan in midfield, but the referee rules it to be a free-kick. Not sure what he’s doing there, the referee Ivan Kruzliak has got two of three things wrong so far.

34 min: Chance for Arsenal. Mkhitaryan, who has been irrelevant in the opening half-an-hour, whips a ball in, Welbeck climbs and flicks the ball on from close range and the ball hits Keita, who is lucky to collect the ball afterwards.

31 min: Two emails, one from a Graham Potter fan, one from an Arsenal fan.

“Hello,” writes Michael Cosgrove, “and as someone who admires Graham Potter for his courageous attempts to create a new and original managerial style, which the Guardian reported, I hope that even if Östersund lose tonight they at least get to penalties so that he can go home deservedly happy with his approach, and motivated to continue his work.”

“Arsenal used to make low cost players into amazing talents, now we make low cost opponents look like Barca,” emails Steven Hallett. “Getting close to being bored with their consistent inconsistency.”

29 min: Edwards, born in Middlesbrough and who played for non-league clubs like Darlington and Thornaby before moving to Sweden, tries his luck from range as Ostersund try to tie the scores at 3-3 agg. It’s a yard wide. More boos from the home crowd.

28 min: Penalty shout for Arsenal! Turned away by the referee, who must have thought that Holding dived over Nouri’s challenge. He didn’t. That was probably a penalty.

26 min: What a tie we have now! Ostersunds are still in the ascendency here, and it’s a toxic environment for Arsenal.

Arsene Wenger looks bemused as Ostersunds’ players celebrate.
Arsene Wenger looks bemused as Ostersunds’ players celebrate. Photograph: Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images


GOAL! Arsenal 0-2 Ostersund (Sema 24, 3-2 agg)

Wow. Straight from the kick-off, Ostersund score again! Iwobi carelessly gives the ball away, Edwards wins it back for the visitors and sends a brilliant lofted pass to Sema on the left. Bellerin is all out of position, Sema turns Chambers with a brilliant bit of skill and lashes a fierce low strike into the far corner. Ospina had no chance with that one! Graham Potter is dancing on the sidelines, Ostersund’s fans go wild, and Arsenal look stunned!

Ken Sema turns Chambers and smashes the ball home.
Ken Sema turns Chambers and smashes the ball home. Photograph: Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images


GOAL! Arsenal 0-1 Ostersund (Aiesh 22, 3-1 agg)

It’s been coming. Arsenal lose the ball cheaply, Holding overcommits, Kolasinac fails to intercept the pass from Nouri and Aiesh, the Ostersund right winger, gets in behind Arsenal’s left back and sidefoots the ball past Ospina. It may have taken a small nick off Chambers on the way through, and might be given as an own goal. But it doesn’t matter, Ostersund are 1-0 up and full deserve their lead on the night.

Hosam Aiesh shoots past David Ospina.
Hosam Aiesh shoots past David Ospina. Photograph: Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images
Aiesh celebrates after Calum Chambers deflected his shot into the net.
Aiesh celebrates after Calum Chambers deflected his shot into the net. Photograph: Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images


20 min: A small break in play as Holding has a cut in the back of the head, which he sustained in a sliding tackle on Curtis Edwards. Holding is not hurt, but will need that patched up.

18 min: Really weird defending from Bellerin. He simply let Sema canter down the left side of the penalty box and have a shot on goal. Ospina parries and is lucky that the ball pops up kindly for him to gather at the second attempt.

15 min: There’s a half-baked penalty from Arsenal fans as Papagiannopoulos gives Kolasinac a gentle nudge in the box, but the Slovakian referee, Ivan Kruzliak, rightfully waves play on.

14 min: Corner to Arsenal, who take it short and proceed to make a series of backwards passes to Ospina. At least they kept the ball though, yeah?!

12 min: Arsenal have their first meaningful effort on goal: Iwobi drops the shoulder on the edge of Ostersund’s box, and curls it a full 20 yards wide.

10 min: One thing that Arsenal have done well is press Ostersund from their own goal kicks. Ostersund like to play out from the back but the keeper Keita is being forced to kick long, and it doesn’t look like he’s got the quality to break the press.

8 min: Ostersund break with pace, and Arsenal’s defence are horribly exposed: where are Elneny and Maitland-Niles?! Hopcutt gets to Arsenal’s box, squares to Ghoddos who plays a wonderfully weighted through ball to Nouri, but the Ostersund captain can’t control the simple pass. He was clean through, and all he needed to do was trap it! Nouri has his head in his hands, he knows what an opportunity that was. Arsenal are absolutely nowhere in these opening exchanges.


6 min: Wilshere and Iwobi finally get their foot on the ball, Arsenal start passing it around, and finally the hosts seem to have found their rhythm.

4 min: Another chance for Ostersund! Sema drives to the byline on Ostersund’s left, nutmegs Bellerin and squares to Hopcutt, who steers the ball towards the far post, and it’s only a fine block from holding that stops the Swedish side from taking the lead. Arsenal are rocking here.

2 min: Half-chance for Ostersund! A dreadful pass from Holding lets Hopcutt get one-on-one with Chambers. Hopcutt cuts the ball back for Ghoddos, but Bellerin nips in and hacks the ball out for a corner! Cleared by Arsenal, but that is a terrible start from the home side.

Peeeeeep! We’re off. Ostersunds are about 100-1 to qualify, according to some bookmakers. Let’s see what happens.

The teams are out. Even though they are playing at home, Arsenal are playing in their blue away kit. Ostersund are in their white home kit.

In case you didn’t see the first leg, keep your eye on Ostersund’s Swedish-born Iranian striker Saman Ghoddos, who won the best forward award in last season’s Allsvenskan. He is small, quick, stocky and has an eye for goal.

Saman Ghoddos
Saman Ghoddos tries to get past Shkodran Mustafi in the first leg. Photograph: IBL/Rex/Shutterstock

Another to flag up is midfielder Ken Sema, who has recently broken into Sweden’s national team. It will be interesting to see how he gets on against Arsenal’s least experienced starter: Ainsley Maitland-Niles.

Elsewhere, Celtic are 3-0 down at Zenit, and need two goals in the minutes to qualify. In arguably the tie of the round, RB Leipzig v Napoli, it is now 3-3 after Lorenzo Insigne’s late goal, but the Italian side trail on away goals, they need one more in injury time. Tune in here.

Wenger speaks!

It’s not a formality. We have to show that we are focussed. Things are strange in football. You have to be intelligent and intelligent means focused. Many players think this is a competition where they have a chance to show their quality, and others see the final and Sunday and try to get a place in the team. Ostersund are ambitious, even more ambitious this year, they want to win the title in Sweden.

The away fans are already packing the away end, we’re just over 20 minutes away from kick-off now. The club’s ultras are called Falkarna, they are already in excellent voice at the Emirates.

Graham Potter, the Ostersund manager, speaks!

It’s a wonderful opportunity for us. We understand the size of the club that we face, but we’ll dream and hope for a miracle. We’ll try to be offensive with our wide players.

If you haven’t read this yet, do.

It also includes a throwaway line from the Ostersund chairman at the end that is a little corny, but I’d say pretty poignant for the club’s story.

If we lose we have to learn from that, so we always win, even if people think we lose the game.

The last time that Arsenal played a weakened team, they got battered 4-2 by Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup third-round.

Few chances taken by Wenger, then. Apart from a few defensive exceptions in Nacho Monreal, Laurent Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi, this is arguably his strongest available team: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is cup-tied, Alexandre Lacazette is injured (as is Aaron Ramsey), Mesut Ozil is ill. Petr Cech is available but generally does not feature in the cup competitions.

It’s pleasing to see Arsenal pay Ostersund the respect they deserve. Perhaps it is more than respect.


Tonight's teams

Arsenal: Ospina, Bellerin, Chambers, Holding, Kolasinac, Mkhitaryan, Elneny, Maitland-Niles, Iwobi, Wilshere, Welbeck.
Subs: Macey, Monreal, Mustafi, Xhaka, Nelson, Nketiah, Willock.

Ostersunds FK: Keita, Mukiibi, Papagiannopoulos, Pettersson, Widgren, Aiesh, Edwards, Nouri, Sema, Hopcutt, Ghoddos.
Subs: Andersson, Tekie, Bergqvist, Gero, Mensah, Arhin, Islamovic.

Referee: Ivan Kruzliak (Slovakia)

In all seriousness, it is probably worth checking in on Celtic. They are 2-0 (2-1 agg) down at Zenit, but only need one away goal to go through. Join Nick Ames, if that’s your thing.


Arsenal are a wonderful club, an institution, and to go to the Emirates for the second leg is fantastic and crazy – because they have more people [60,000] in their stadium than we have in our whole town.

This quote from Graham Potter, manager of Östersund and taken from Donald McRae’s interview from a couple of weeks back, seems a fitting way to begin this preamble, simply because it puts into perspective the two teams we have playing tonight.

Even the most optimistic of Östersund fans will agree that their European adventure Europa League will almost definitely end tonight, Arsenal winning the first leg in Sweden 3-0. But what a way to go out: 5,000 Scandinavians rocking and rolling in the away end at the Emirates, 10% of the town’s total population. Östersund’s domestic league season ended in November, meaning this is a (cliche alert!) proverbial cup final for them, a match to be celebrated before it has even begun. It is going to be entertaining, whatever happens.

Of course, the tie is still alive, just, although Arsenal would need a European collapse at the Emirates not seen since … this time last year for them not to progress to the last 16. It is a chance for them to rest some big players prior to Sunday’s Capital One Cup final against Manchester City, and a chance for others to impress.

Unless you are a Östersund fan, if you want jeopardy, you’ve probably come to the wrong place. Try Zenit St Petersburg v Celtic for size. But if you like fun, and I know Graham Potter does, stay right there.

Kick-off: 8.05pm GMT


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