Unsung Nacho Monreal, Mohamed Elneny earn top marks for Arsenal at Ostersunds
Arsenal's Europa League campaign this season might best be described as functional. There's been little out of the ordinary, and despite a 3-0 win in Sweden on Thursday night -- their first away from home in 2018 -- ordinary seems a good way to sum up the performance.
These looked like players going through the motions, and although some might point to the conditions, it was a bit cold; and the pitch, it was a bit artificial, they rarely got out of first gear. So much so that the home side, who had started the game in a state approaching terror and sat back to defend with 11 men, realised they had little to be afraid of and made a more even contest of it.
Sadly for them, they were 2-0 down at that point. A goal from Nacho Monreal and an own goal were probably just reward for the Gunners dominance of possession and territory, but they played like a side who, as Arsene Wenger might say, had the handbrake on.
Mesut Ozil added a third in the second half, after which both teams knew the game was won and played accordingly. It was tepid, unexciting fare, even taking into account a missed penalty by Ostersunds in injury time, but it leaves Arsenal in a very
Winning away again is certainly a positive, and in circumstances which might have proved physically testing, Arsenal appear to have come through without any injuries.
Could Arsenal really have turned the screw with a bit more effort and endeavour? Maybe, it's perhaps churlish to complain about that after a win and a clean sheet away from home in Europe.
Manager rating out of 10
6 -- Like his players, Wenger did what was required without having to do anything special.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK David Ospina, 7 -- Gets an extra mark for saving a penalty, the first time an Arsenal goalkeeper has stopped a spot-kick since 2014 (shoot-outs aside).
DF Hector Bellerin, 6 -- Gave away the penalty at the end but was generally industrious down the right-hand side, as ever though he was left short of people to combine with at times.
DF Shkodran Mustafi, 5 -- He was a lucky man tonight. Avoided a clear-cut yellow card early on, and a foul in the second half ought to have been an Ostersunds penalty but the referee somehow waved play-on.
DF Calum Chambers, 6 -- He did fine without having too much to do. Tackled and intercepted well and used the ball cleverly.
DF Nacho Monreal, 7 -- Another goal for the Spanish full-back, who has got his shooting boots on in 2018. Taken off in the second half, hopefully as a precaution.
MF Ainsley Maitland-Niles, 7 -- Nice to see him get a run out in midfield and he did well overall. However, will have learned he'll need to be stronger in that position at this level.
MF Mohamed Elneny, 7 -- Attempted 111 passes with a 96 percent completion rate, kept things ticking in midfield.
MF Alex Iwobi, 7 -- Probably the most willing runner from an attacking point of view, and looked to inject some urgency into the way the team played. It didn't always come off, but he tried.
MF Henrikh Mkhitaryan, 6 -- Had some shots in the first half, but played like a really experienced player who knew energy expended on a game like this would almost be wasteful.
MF Mesut Ozil, 7 -- Surprisingly played the full 90 minutes, and got a goal in the second period, helped by some poor goalkeeping. Like Mkhitaryan, played within himself.
FW Danny Welbeck, 5 -- This was a chance for him to show his stuff in the absence of the injured Alexandre Lacazette and the cup-tied Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Nothing much came off, and when set up by Iwobi for a good chance in the first half he could only blast over the bar.
DF Sead Kolasinac, NR -- Replaced Monreal but had little impact at either end as the game chugged along to its inevitable conclusion.
FW Eddie Nketiah, NR -- Got seven minutes at the end, really should have been given a bit more time.
MF Reiss Nelson, NR -- See above, except he got six minutes. There was scope to give these youngsters a longer run-out.
Andrew Mangan is one of ESPN FC's Arsenal bloggers. You can follow him on Twitter: @arseblog.