By Dan Ferguson
Ostersund 0 Arsenal 3
This was quite an uneventful, yet professional performance.
Arsenal was so dominant in terms of possession, chances, completed passes, that it really felt like a training game or pre-season.
Credit where it is due, the players did their job and showed little in the way of complacency.
There were some key areas where the game was won and lost. Mainly that Ostersund showed Arsenal way too much respect.
The second area was that Arsenal’s passing game was very good in defence and midfield, which meant when Welbeck started wobbling and falling, we were not exposed. Also, Arsenal’s defence kept it tight and although chances fell to Ostersund, they only tested Ospina.
Ospina was pretty tidy all game. A reassuring presence. He caught when he normally would have punched, he commanded his box well, distribution was fine, and late on he saved a well placed penalty. So well done him. Lots of players seemed to thrive on the consistency of the 3G pitch, so Iwobi, Ozil, Henrikh, and Maitland Niles were all very tidy.
The first goal was indicative of the rest of the game. Some good interplay between the Arsenal players, but the final ball was poor, or wayward, yet the keeper spilled the ball and Monreal was on hand again to stroke it into the net. The second was much the same. Nice passing and Mkhitaryan’s pinged cross was diverted into his own net by a flapping Papagiannopoulos.
In the second half, there were lots of chances with little real threat. Ozil scored after some more good Arsenal pressure and he was able to move through the defence and clip the ball into the net after the keeper got something on it. A nice enough goal and the players knew that the tie was won then.
The rest of the game was a formality, though I am sure that Welbeck (who is still ring rusty after his injury), was poor and will be kicking himself for not converting any of his chances. I really like Maitland-Niles and want to see him in midfield more. I think he could be far more Vieira than Denilson.
All in all, it was a job well done and with an early kick-off, I still don’t feel that I have wasted the evening. I hope the next leg is just as professional and that the Swedes have their fun, but Arsenal progresses without issue or injury.