Arsene Wenger happy Arsenal have comfortable lead in Europa League last-32 tie with Ostersunds after first leg
PUBLISHED: 12:00 16 February 2018
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The Gunners boss has revealed he will rest his key players for next week's second leg so they will be fresh for the Carabao Cup final on February 25
Arsene Wenger admits he is likely to shuffle his pack for next Thursday’s Europa League visit of Ostersunds as Arsenal prepare for their Carabao Cup final date.
The Gunners ran out comfortable 3-0 winners over Ostersunds in their opening round of 32 tie as a strong side coped with tricky conditions to ease to victory.
Nacho Monreal’s third goal in six games set them on their way, with Mesut Ozil - featuring in this competition for the first time this season - wrapping up the win after Sotirios Papagiannopoulos scored an unfortunate own goal.
Ostersunds saw a last-minute penalty saved by David Ospina, Arsenal’s captain on the night, as Wenger’s men all but assured themselves a place in the last 16.
That means the pressure is off on the return leg at the Emirates Stadium next week - with focus now able to be shifted to the Wembley meeting with Manchester City as Wenger looks to add a League Cup title to his impressive honours list.
“We’ll try to win the game again,” he said. “Maybe we’ll rotate the players who did not play tonight and rest one or two who played tonight.
“I think we adapted quite well to the pitch. They were maybe a bit cautious at the start and we took advantage of it. Overall we won in a comfortable way.”
Ostersunds, who beat the likes of Galatasaray, PAOK and Hertha Berlin to get this far, were surprisingly defensive in the opening quarter of the contest.
Their English manager, Graham Potter, bemoaned the start but was pleased that his players rallied to trouble Arsenal for periods of the tie.
“Arsenal were the better team and deserved to win,” he said.
“It was a difficult start, we weren’t ourselves, we were too deep, too short. We could have gone under in a big way against their quality but we didn’t.
“We showed what we were about in the second half, it is a shame we didn’t score the penalty but I’m most proud of how the players responded.
“Arsenal are rightly one of the favourites. They’ve left a few players at home and it shows the strength of their squad. They still had World Cup winners on the pitch, talent all over and technically good level. They are clearly the best team we’ve faced.”