Date: 16th February 2018 at 8:57am
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Manager Arsene Wenger has spoken of his delight at seeing Arsenal take a relatively comfortable three nil advantage in the round of 32 Europa League first leg against Ostersunds last night.

Travelling to the Jamtkraft Arena for the game against Graham Potter’s side, Nacho Monreal gave us the lead in the 13th minute and an own goal doubled our first half advantage. The second period saw Mesut Ozil add a third, and the second leg should be ours for the taking – but with Arsenal’s form this season I guess nothing is guaranteed.

Speaking to the Official Site as he met with the media following the game, Wenger’s pleasure at seeing us take such an advantage through to the home leg at the Emirates next week was clear to see – especially given the 3G pitch in use.

‘Yes, I think we adapted quite well to the pitch. They were maybe a bit cautious at the start and we took advantage of it. I feel at 2-0 at half-time, it was important for us not to concede a goal and win the second half. I felt there was room to score one or two more in the second half but we were in control and once we went 2-0 up, overall we won in a comfortable way.’

Wenger was pushed on whether at three nil he would rest players for the second leg.

‘I don`t know, I don`t think I will rest. We`ll try to win the game again. Maybe we`ll rotate the players who did not play tonight and rest one or two who played tonight.’

With Ostersunds taking plenty of praise for their growth ahead of the game, the Frenchman also had praise for them, crediting their attitude on the day as they kept fighting until the last minute, so he knew we couldn’t be complacent next week either.

‘Yes, overall I believe they played well. They didn`t give up, they continued to fight until the last minute. Their captain was impressive, I think he`s a very good player, and the midfielder who came on as well. It`s a good side who had a positive attitude in the game. I can understand now, having seen them tonight, why they made so many good results in the Europa League.’

There was a dicey moment late on as they were awarded a stoppage time penalty, but David Ospina kept his clean sheet with a save.

‘For me it was important not to tarnish a little bit our performance. I think we were a bit too easy on that situation and it could have left a bitter taste.’

Wenger also justified a stronger team selection, referencing potential problems with the pitch.

‘Yes, the risk at the start was that I didn`t know how tough the pitch would be for our players. But overall we have no game over the weekend, so it was an easier decision. The only risk was the injuries. I`m happy we had no problems and the pitch was quite good.’

Getting the start on the day, Ainsley Maitland-Niles also came in for praise.

‘It`s his natural position. I think 80 per cent of his game was good, and I feel he can win the ball back well. Defensively he`s quite strong, he`s got good acceleration and it`s a positive game for a first run.’

As did Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

‘He has worked very hard and it was a positive performance. He adapts slowly to the team and overall he had a positive game tonight.’

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