Graham Potter thought drawing Arsenal was an amazing reward for what his side achieved in 2017, and is looking forward to visiting the Emirates Stadium.
Against all expectation, Östersunds FK qualified from their Europa League group to make the knockout rounds of the competition.
Their reward for such a great achievement was a draw against Arsenal, something that Potter and the whole town of Ostersund have been looking forward to since December.
“I thought it was either going to be AC Milan or Arsenal,” he told the Guardian.
“I remember sitting here as the draw happened and smiling. It felt like an amazing reward for what we’d done in 2017.
“We finished fifth [their highest-ever position in the top division] and won the Swedish Cup. The result of all that is we’ve got Arsenal in the Europa League. It’s incredible, Wenger has been at Arsenal longer than we have been in existence as a club.”
To put the size of Östersunds FK into perspective, they were formed in October 1996. Wenger had been in charge of Arsenal for five weeks by that point.
According to Potter, the whole population of Ostersund could fit inside the Emirates Stadium.
“Arsenal are a wonderful club, an institution, and to go to the Emirates for the second leg is fantastic and crazy – because they have more people [60,000] in their stadium than we have in our whole town,” he said.
“We’re going to take 5,000 fans, which is mind‑blowing when only 50,000 people live in Östersund. So hopefully I’ve shown there’s another path for English managers.”
Arsenal have to be cautious of underestimating Östersunds FK .
Playing in extremely cold conditions against a very spirited outfit could easily lead to defeat if they don’t give them the due respect.
Arsene Wenger will field his strongest available team, which should hopefully communicate just how important the game is.
The competition is the most important thing remaining in Arsenal’s season.
It’ll be a shame to end Östersunds FK story, but it’s something the team must do.