Ostersunds FK v Arsenal preview: Arsene Wenger not worried about freezing temperatures
Last Updated: 15/02/18 6:04pm
Arsene Wenger says his Arsenal team will face a greater challenge adapting to the pitch at Ostersunds FK than getting used to the cold.
The 4G pitch is a surface the Arsenal players do not encounter in the Premier League, and Wenger knows his players will have to adjust quickly in Thursday's Europa League last-32 first-leg tie.
Temperatures are set to be below zero in Sweden but the Arsenal boss, who admitted he has been impressed by what he has seen of Graham Potter's side, says this should not impact on his players.
"When I saw them play, I understood why they did well against Bilbao and Berlin - it wasn't a coincidence," Wenger told reporters.
"But I don't think the temperature will be a problem - our target will be to adapt quickly to the pitch. I have heard this is 4G - we have 3G, so it is different and outside it is different as well but no matter, we have not to make too big a problem of it."
Danny Welbeck will start up front as Pierre Emerick Aubameyang is cup-tied and Alexandre Lacazette is out injured.
Mesut Ozil, who is yet to play in the Europa League, is also set to start in Sweden but Laurent Koscielny and Jack Wilshere have not travelled for the Europa League tie, Wenger admitting to concerns over how the Frenchman would cope with the pitch and revealing Wilshere's absence was precautionary.
David Ospina will remain in goal.
Ostersunds FK were formed on October 31, 1996, 30 days after Arsene Wenger officially took charge of opponents Arsenal (October 1, 1996).
Ostersunds FK will be the 124th different opponent that Arsene Wenger has faced as manager of Arsenal in all competitions.
Arsenal ended their group stage with 13 points from six games (W4 D1 L1) - the only English team to have won more in a Europa League group stage were Tottenham (18) in 2013-14.
This is the furthest that a Swedish side have progressed in European competition since Helsingborgs IF reached the last 32 of the UEFA Cup in 2007-08, before losing to PSV.
Graham Potter has won three of his six Europa League games as a manager (excluding qualifiers); the only English managers to have won more in the competition are Roy Hodgson (10/21), Steve McClaren (6/18) and Alan Pardew (4/12).
Only two players (Sergio Canales & Miralem Sulejmani) have created more chances in this Europa League campaign than Ostersunds FK 's Ken Sema (16).
Henrikh Mkhitaryan scored in six of his final nine appearances for Manchester United in the UEFA Europa League last season, including in the final against Ajax as they won the competition.
This is a painful one for me because it looks an easy tie and even a big win does little to ease the absolute farce of Saturday's derby defeat. There can be no excuses here.
They've got a cup final 10 days afterwards and they could go here and get embarrassed if they don't win. I see Arsenal are only odds of 1/2 to win this and they should be 1/5 for this sort of game against such an unknown entity.
They should get this tie done this Thursday with a strong side; Danny Welbeck will have to step up given Alexandre Lacazette is injured and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang ineligible.
I'd actually play a front two with Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Mesut Ozil behind and accept that we're not going to defend. There's no point in playing Mohamed Elneny and Granit Xhaka together, because they'll never be able to tackle.
I'm going for Arsenal to win by three goals and if they don't win by that margin, it will be a disappointment as the second leg comes right before the Carabao Cup final.
Charlie predicts: 0-3 and Welbeck to score first (30/1 with Sky Bet)