This is a trip into the unknown for Arsenal.
Ostersunds – a team only established after Arsène Wenger’s reign here began – are enjoying their first-ever European campaign, and have never previously played a competitive fixture against English opposition.
The city of Ostersund is located right in the centre of Sweden, and it’s certainly the centre of attention on Thursday evening, for the biggest game in their 21-year history.
The entire population of the city would fit into Emirates Stadium, with room to spare, but there won’t be an empty seat in the 9,000-capacity Jamtrkraft Arena this evening, when the temperatures is expected to dip to minus five degrees.
It’s a venue they have made a fortress in this season’s Europa League, winning five and drawing one of their six home games in the competition so far – keeping five clean sheets in the process – on the artificial 4G playing surface.
Their incredible rise from the Swedish fourth tier to domestic cup winners has been masterminded by English manager, and former Southampton player, Graham Potter, who took over in 2011.
Wenger’s respect for the opposition is clear. Of his available players only Jack Wilshere, Laurent Koscielny and Petr Cech haven’t travelled, while Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is ineligible.
With no game this weekend before the home leg next Thursday, the boss could afford to name his strongest Europa League squad yet. It’s the 19th successive season we have played European football after the winter…