2017-18 Europa League: Last 32 – 1st leg

With UEFA Champions League knockouts already underway, the Europa League also makes its return.

Arsenal are the sole British team left but they will be joined by Celtic, who drop down from the Champions League.

With no game over this weekend, Arsenal know that they can afford to take risks here against Ostersunds FK.

Celtic meanwhile face a tricky home tie against Zenit St Petersburg in the late kick off.


Ostersunds FK vs Arsenal (6:00pm)

This is the very first clash between both clubs because Ostersunds FK only formed a month after Arsene Wenger joined Arsenal in October 1996.

Arsenal stormed through their group with ease, winning five and losing one.

Ostersunds meanwhile took three wins, two draws and one defeat from a tricky Group J, against Athletic Bilbao and Hertha Berlin. 

To many, this is the European equivalent of a FA Cup third round tie so Arsenal probably have a right to be worried here.

Temperatures are expected to be around -5 degrees which might unsettle the Gunners here. Some Arsenal players however should be used to those temperatures after several harsh UK winters. 

Wenger only has Danny Welbeck available up front due to injuries and ineligibility, but the midfield is solid. 


The defence however can be inconsistent at times so I reckon this will be a draw, purely because this is away and on AstroTurf pitch.

Prediction: Ostersunds FK 1-1 Arsenal  

Result: Ostersunds FK 0-3 Arsenal 


Celtic vs Zenit St Petersburg (8:05pm)


Brendan Rodgers’ Celtic enter this stage after the Champions League exit, whilst Zenit topped their group in comfortable style.

The Russian side cruised through Group L with five wins and a draw, scoring 17 goals and conceding five.

They also have two of the competition’s best scorers in Emiliano Rigoni and Aleksandr Kokorin.

Having entered at the third qualifying round stage, Zenit have scored 16 goals between seven scorers.

Kokorin and Rigoni between them two make up 13 of those goals, so will be tough for Celtic to quieten them down.

Celtic meanwhile netted 20 times during their Champions League run, with the goals being shared between ten players.

Scott Sinclair is the Hoops’ top scorer this season in Europe with five goals.

Prediction wise, this is the first meeting between these sides and Celtic have a (W2 D2, L3) home record from last seven matches at Celtic Park in this competition.

Purely because of how strong both teams are, I am going to go for a tight battle with Celtic edging it.

Prediction: Celtic 2-1 Zenit St Petersburg

Result: Celtic 1-0 Zenit St Petersburg

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