The pressure is building on Arsene Wenger, who will see the Europa League as a viable path into next season’s Champions League
Arsenal return to European action on Thursday when they take on Swedish side Ostersunds in the Europa League last 32.
The competition has taken on greater significance for the Gunners as the season has progressed and their routes to continental football begin to dwindle.
Indeed, with a top-four Premier League finish far from guaranteed, the Europa League is arguably Arsenal’s best chance of ensuring their place in next season’s Champions League.
However, there is a long way to go yet, with four ties to get through before they can reach the final.
TV Channel & Live Stream
In the United States (US), the game can be watched live and on-demand with fuboTV (7-day free trial).
New users can sign up for a free seven-day trial of the live sports streaming service, which can be accessed via iOS, Android, Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, Roku and Apple TV as well as on a web browser.
In the United Kingdom (UK), the game can be watched live on TV on BT Sport 3 and it can be streamed live online using the BT Sport app.
|UK TV channel||Online stream|
|BT Sport 3||BT Sport app|
Squads & Team News
|Defenders||Pettersson, Papagiannopoulos, Bergqvist, Widgren, Mensah, Mukiipi, Kposo, Sundberg|
|Midfielders||Tekie, Lundback, Aiesh, Bertilsson, Sema, Fritzson, Edwards, Nouri, Arhin|
|Forwards||Hopcutt, Gero, Ghoddos, Islamovich|
Graham Potter will be without Hosam Aiesh and Johan Bertilsson. They will look to Iran international Saman Ghoddos and Iraq international Brwa Nouri for inspiration going forward.
Potential Ostersunds starting XI: Keita; Pettersson, Widgren, Bergvist, Mukiipi; Nouri, Hopcutt, Tekie, Sema, Islamovic; Ghoddos.
|Goalkeepers||Ospina, Cech, Macey|
|Defenders||Mertesacker, Koscielny, Holding, Monreal, Mustafi, Chambers, Bellerin, Mavropanos, Kolasinac|
|Midfielders||Ramsey, Wilshere, Ozil, Iwobi, Cazorla, Xhaka, Maitland-Niles, Elneny, Mkhitaryan, Nelson, GIlmour, Dragomir|
|Forwards||Lacazette, Welbeck, Nketiah, Willock, Dasilva|
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is ineligible to play due to the fact that his former club Borussia Dortmund have dropped into the competition from the Champions League. However, Henrikh Mkhitaryan is eligible to take part.
Alexandre Lacazette recently underwent a procedure on his knee and will be out of action for four-to-six weeks, while Santi Cazorla is a long-term absentee. Aaron Ramsey missed the Tottenham loss with a groin problem and is a major doubt for the tie.
Potential Arsenal starting XI: Ospina; Mertesacker, Monreal, Mustafi, Bellerin; Xhaka, Elneny, Iwobi, Mkhitaryan, Ozil; Welbeck.
Betting & Match Odds
Arsenal are 1/2 favourites to win according to dabblebet, with Ostersunds priced at 5/1 to upset the Gunners. A draw is available at 3/1.
Arsenal’s north London derby defeat to Tottenham last weekend dealt a serious blow to their chances of finishing fourth in the Premier League and they face a serious fight to reach the Champions League in 2018-19.
The Gunners’ defeat to Spurs was their eighth in the league this season and, as a consequence of that poor form, they are well behind their rivals in sixth position. As such, the Europa League has become a key consideration for Arsene Wenger, who is under pressure to return the club to Europe’s top table.
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In Ostersunds, Arsenal are facing a team managed by Englishman Graham Potter and one that has already achieved commendable results against the likes of Athletic Bilbao and Hertha Berlin in the group stage, so the Premier League side will have to guard against complacency, particularly away from home.
They will be without a number of key men for the game with Aubameyang ineligible and Lacazette ruled out through injury, so Danny Welbeck is the only senior striker left available. However, with the likes of Mkhitaryan, Mesut Ozil and Jack Wilshere, the Gunners will be confident in their ability to navigate safely through the tie.
If they can do that, greater challenges await with a clutch of Europe’s elite clubs now entering the competition for the knock-out stage, but they must take it one game at a time.