Could a 3-0 win be any more boring? Arsenal benefitted from an own goal and scored on two chances that Aly Keita, the Östersunds keeper, would probably like to have back. Apart from that, the Gunners seemed content to sit on their lead, possess the ball in the midfield, and see out the match.
To their credit, they also did not allow many chances against. Östersunds had a strong period to close out the first half after going down 2-0, but David Ospina made the one good save required of him. The Colombian also saved a late penalty to preserve the clean sheet, but let’s be honest, even Petr Čech would have stopped the attempt.
Much of Arsenal’s defensive stability came from Mohamed Elneny and Ainsley Maitland-Niles clogging up the center of the pitch / denying Östersunds’ midfielders time and space. The Egyptian is in the midst of a solid run of form and has been particularly good defensively. Maitland-Niles completed more than 90% of his passes, helping to relieve much of the pressure Östersunds were able to muster.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan had a strong game for the Gunners. The Armenian showcased his creativity, threading passes through tight windows including a particularly impressive one to Mesut Özil on Arsenal’s third goal. Mkhitaryan is also not afraid to shoot from distance, and even though he did not manage to get any of his longer efforts on frame, his threat will open up space and passing lanes in the future. Nacho Montreal also kept up his impressive (and surprising) goal scoring form - he now has 3 goals in his last 6 appearances.
The only lowlight on the evening was the performance of Danny Welbeck. The striker was minimally involved and had several poor touches / misplaced passes. Let’s hope that he was just rusty because with Alexandre Lacazette on the shelf for more than a month and Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang cup tied for the Europa, Welbeck is going to see significant minutes.
Even though it wasn’t a scintillating performance from the Gunners, it was likely more than enough to see them through to the Round of 16 - conceding 4 at the Emirates would be a collapse of epic proportions. The result also gives Arsene Wenger the option to rest some of his key players for the second leg, which comes just three days before the Carabao Cup Final against Manchester City. The Gunners are next in action on the 22nd in the return leg against Östersunds.