Arsenal couldn’t really win last night when they faced Swedish minnows Ostersunds in the last 32 of the Europa League. If they recorded an easy win it would be down to being superior to the minnows, if they would have lost, they would have been slated to high heaven.
Thankfully, the Gunners produced a highly professional performance to win the first leg 3-0 and almost render the second leg at the Emirates pointless.
Named a strong team
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has named weakened sides in the previous rounds of this competition. However, the veteran French boss took no chances with his team selection in the potential banana skin of a tie.
Wenger named backup ‘keeper David Ospina in goal, but that is now the custom for most cup games. The fact that Petr Cech had put in some questionable displays of late made the Colombian’s selection far easier anyway, even if it were not a cup game.
The fact that German playmaker was making his first appearance in this competition showed how seriously everybody took the game. In the end, the gulf in class between the two teams shone through and the Gunners recorded a comfortable victory.
A big chance for Champions League qualification
Arsenal’s hopes of finishing in the Premier League top-four seem to get slimmer by the week. The Gunners currently look highly unlikely to clinch a Champions League spot through the Premier League.
The potential of a Champions League place for winning the Europa League is looking like the Gunners best hope of playing in Europe’s elite competition next season. There are some very good teams remaining in the competition.
However, there also many very beatable teams left in the competition. The standard in the last 16 of the Europa League is nowhere near as good as the Champions League.
Second favourites to win the competition
Arsenal are now second favourites at odds of 4/1 to win the Europa League this season, with only perennial Champions League contenders Atletico Madrid shorter odds than the Gunners.
The north London side are already as good as through to the last 16 of the competition. No doubt, there are tougher tasks ahead for the Gunners in the competition and their progression in the competition may well depend on who they draw next.
However, Arsene Wenger’s side looks to have negotiated a potential banana skin in the last 32 and deserve credit for a professional display in Sweden.
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