Arsene Wenger praised his Arsenal side for the way they performed in unfamiliar surroundings as they left Ostersund with one foot in the last 16 of the Europa League.
Surrounded by snow drifts at the Jamtkraft Arena and playing on an unfamiliar 4G pitch, a strong Arsenal side overcame trying conditions to win 3-0.
Wenger got out of the group stages by largely utilising his fringe players and young prospects but, now sitting eight points off the top four, winning the Europa League arguably presents the Gunners with their best shot of returning to the Champions League.
“I think we adapted quite well to the pitch,” Wenger said after the game.
“They (Ostersund) were maybe a bit cautious at the start and we took advantage of it. I feel that at 2-0 at half-time, it was important for us not to concede a goal and win the second half.
“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.”
That will suit Wenger as Arsenal have the Carabao Cup final against Manchester City three days later and the Frenchman admits he is likely to shuffle his pack.
“We’ll try to win the game again,” he said.
“Maybe we’ll rotate the players who did not play tonight and rest one or two who played tonight.”
Ostersund, who beat the likes of Galatasaray, PAOK and Hertha Berlin to get this far, were surprisingly defensive in the opening quarter of the contest.
Their English manager, Graham Potter, bemoaned the start but was pleased that his players rallied to trouble Arsenal for periods of the tie.
“Arsenal were the better team and deserved to win,” he said.
“We showed what we were about in the second half, it is a shame we didn’t score the penalty but I’m most proud of how the players responded.
“Arsenal are rightly one of the favourites. They’ve left a few players at home and it shows the strength of their squad. They still had World Cup winners on the pitch, talent all over and technically good level. They are clearly the best team we’ve faced.”