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Transfer Rater: Nabil Fekir to Arsenal

Football Whispers

Calum Chambers, Jack Wilshere miss chance to impress vs. Ostersunds

Ostersunds scored twice in quick succession in the first half to come storming back in the tie only for Arsenal to put them out of reach early in the second.

Arsenal survived a scare to progress to the next round of the Europa League, despite suffering a 2-1 defeat on the night to Ostersunds.

The Gunners found themselves 2-0 down at half-time, facing a situation where conceding a third goal would have seen the tie poised for extra-time. However, a Sead Kolasinac goal shortly after the break settled both their nerves and the tie.


The big positive for Arsenal is the fact they're still in the competition -- at one stage, that looked in very real doubt.

However, there are far bigger tests than Ostersunds to come. Arsenal need to win the Europa League to win back a Champions League place, but if they play like this that seems highly improbable.


This performance was well short of what Arsene Wenger would have expected. For some players, this was an opportunity to press for inclusion in the Carabao Cup Final. No one really responded to that challenge, with the possible exception of the gutsy Alex Iwobi.

However, Iwobi was withdrawn with a cramp. It was also far from ideal that Hector Bellerin had to play a full 90 minutes just days before a domestic final.

Manager rating out of 10

-- The team's lack of focus simply does not reflect well on Wenger. Ultimately, he has to be responsible for their passive performances.

 Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK David Ospina, 6 -- Ahead of the Carabao Cup Final, Ospina was handed another chance to improve his match sharpness -- but he probably didn't expect to be tested quite so frequently. Sunday will make it a rare three consecutive starts for the Colombian -- and he'll be eager for better protection on that occasion.

DF Hector Bellerin, 6 -- It's a damning indictment of Arsenal's lack of options at right-back that Bellerin was forced to play this game -- he was the only outfield player in the XI who can be considered a certainty to start against City. It was Bellerin who created Arsenal's goal shortly after half-time, clipping a good cross to the back post.

DF Calum Chambers, 4 -- You have to fear for both of Arsenal's two young English centre-halves. While they clearly have potential, they seem to be regressing under Wenger's management. Chambers will be particularly disappointed with the manner in which he was turned on the second goal.

DF Rob Holding, 5 -- Made a good early block, but his general positioning is in real need of improvement. Sadly, there doesn't seem to be anyone at Arsenal with the expertise (or perhaps the will) to provide the necessary coaching.

DF Sead Kolasinac, 6 -- The burly Bosnian has been out of favour recently, and Ostersund's first goal showed why -- he was found wanting defensively. Kolasinac has generally been at his best going forward, and that proved to be the case again as he powered home a crucial goal to calm Arsenal nerves.

MF Mohamed Elneny, 6 -- The Egyptian midfielder was one of the few Arsenal players who looked like he'd got the memo about this competition being Arsenal's best chance of qualifying for the Champions League. As ever, he covered plenty of ground and leant some semblance of structure to the midfield.

MF Ainsley Maitland-Niles, 4 -- Not a good night for the Arsenal youngster. After a sloppy first half in which he was booked, he was substituted at half-time for Swiss international Granit Xhaka.

Calum Chambers had a rough evening and was left in the dust on Ostersunds' second.
Calum Chambers was left in the dust by Ken Sema on Ostersunds' second.

MF Jack Wilshere, 4 -- After being spared for the trip to Sweden, this was a chance for Wilshere to regain some sharpness ahead of the cup final. However, if this was his audition for a starting place on Sunday, it was not a particularly successful one. Arsenal's captain on the night was well short of his best and appeared to leave the pitch clutching at his thigh.

FW Alex Iwobi, 6 -- While he will have been disappointed to concede possession in the build-up to Ostersunds' second goal, Iwobi was arguably Arsenal's brightest spark on the night. He ought to have created a goal for Danny Welbeck, but the Englishman's header from six yards was aimed right at the goalkeeper.

FW Henrikh Mkhitaryan, 5 -- Unfortunately for Arsenal's January signing, he will be cup-tied for the Wembley showpiece on Sunday. On the evidence of this performance, that may be no bad thing. Mkhitaryan was guilty of needlessly giving the ball away on several occasions.

FW Danny Welbeck, 4 -- The shot-shy forward probably should have ended the night with a couple of goals to his name, but Welbeck seems to be suffering from a chronic lack of confidence. The sooner Alexandre Lacazette is back to lead Arsenal's Europa League charge, the better.


MF Granit Xhaka, 6 -- Came on for Maitland-Niles (45) and did help a little in steadying the ship.

MF Joe Willock, NR -- Replaced Wilshere (76) and fell over twice before promptly changing his boots.

FW Reiss Nelson, NR -- Got a few moments of action in place of Iwobi (90).

James McNicholas is one of ESPN FC's Arsenal bloggers. You can follow him on Twitter @gunnerblog.


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