Amy Lawrence at the Jämtkraft Arena
Arsène Wenger left Sweden with a comfortable 3-0 lead from the first leg of their Europa League tie, insistent that he will take next week’s return game seriously. Under the circumstances it would be understandable if Wenger chose to rest a reasonable number of his squad for the return game next Thursday as Arsenal will meet Manchester City in the Carabao Cup final three days later. “We won in a comfortable way and I will try to win the game again,” Wenger said of the second leg.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan echoed those sentiments as Arsenal are increasingly sending out the message that they intend to give the Europa League their full commitment now that they are in the knockout stages and within clear sight of the last 16. “We have to focus on every game regardless of this result to ensure more success,” said the midfielder. “Even with the League Cup final, I think we have to play with the same team and win at home.”
Asked if his new team could go on to win the competition he replied: “Why not? We have to keep fighting and in the end see where we’re at.”
Mkhitaryan created two of the goals as Arsenal cruised past an Östersund team that looked overawed by the occasion at the start – a position from which they never really recovered.
Graham Potter admitted the occasion got to his players as they handed the initiative to their opponents far too easily. “We weren’t ourselves. We were too deep. We made a couple of errors and the goals were disappointing,” he said.
“We didn’t show ourselves as well as we would like. What we learned is you are playing against a team with great quality in possession. If you lose it, you are a long time until you get it back.”
Potter backed Arsenal to go far in this competition. “They are quite rightly one of the favourites. They left a few players at home, so that shows the strength of their squad. World Cup winners on the pitch, talent all over, technically at a really high level, they are clearly the best we have faced.”
Wenger was pleased to note that David Ospina, captain on the night, saved a stoppage-time penalty. “It was important not to tarnish our performance. It would have left a bitter taste.” The teams meet again next Thursday evening at the Emirates.