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Arsenal 1 - Östersunds 2: survive and advance

It wasn’t pretty, but it got the job done.

Arsenal v Ostersunds FK - UEFA Europa League
Sead Kolašinac’s goal was enough to secure Arsenal’s place in the next round.
Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

Arsenal certainly made that more interesting than it needed to be. The Gunners came into the match up 3-0 on aggregate and needed only to avoid catastrophe to advance to the next round. 26 minutes into the match, it looked as if catastrophe might be in the cards.

Östersunds scored two goals less than two minutes apart and were very much on the front foot. They had the majority of the possession and generated most of the chances in the first half. Arsenal were poor - they looked technically rusty, unorganized, and at times, uninterested. Honestly, Arsenal were fortunate to escape the half ahead on aggregate.

The Gunners got it together in the second half. A Sead Kolašinac goal four minutes in took most of the sting out of the match. The Bosnian thundered home a Henrikh Mkhitaryan cross after a dreadful missed clearance from an Östersunds defender. The rest of the half saw only a handful of chances for either side - the addition of Granit Xhaka to the Arsenal midfield tightened things up and didn’t allow the plucky Swedes the time and space they enjoyed in the first half.

With how dreadful Arsenal were in the first half, it’s difficult to say anybody had a good game for the Gunners. Sead Kolašinac was a consistent attacking threat in the second half and probably was Arsenal’s best player on the evening. Jack Wilshere had a particularly poor match - his passing was off and he was generally uninvolved. Danny Welbeck also continues to struggle, failing to score on either of two golden opportunities.

It’s tough to take much away from the match. It can be difficult to “get up” mentally for games against lesser teams when you have a large lead on aggregate, and Arsenal look to have suffered from that this evening. Full credit to Östersunds, the Swedish side took it to Arsenal in the first half and played a great match, but in the end, the first leg deficit and the talent gap proved too much to overcome.

The Round of 16 draw takes place tomorrow morning at 7 AM Eastern.