Since the start of 2018, Arsenal have brought in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from Borussia Dortmund and sold Olivier Giroud to Chelsea. If anything, Arsene Wenger has managed to provide his first-team squad with a significant upgrade, despite the warmth shown by supporters for the commitment of Giroud. However, the sale has done nothing to help the Gunners' Europa League campaign, with Aubameyang unable to feature due to Dortmund's demotion into the competition and a six-week layoff for Alexandre Lacazette has left Arsenal desperately short of experienced options in the number-nine position ahead of their last-32 clash with Ostersunds FK, with the first leg taking place on Thursday night.
Casinopro in Sweden are used to dealing with stakes which can result in big rewards, and the injury to Lacazette will add to Ostersunds' belief that they can enjoy similar jubilation with a famous win over the Premier League side. The minnows have already caused shockwaves in the competition by finishing as runners-up in a group which included Athletic Bilbao, Zorya Luhansk and Hertha Berlin, with just one defeat and four goals being conceded from six matches against teams with a considerably bigger reputation. It has truly been a team effort, with former Middlesbrough trainee Curtis Edwards and ex-York City youngster Jamie Hopcutt both playing a part in their success. No Lacazette for the upcoming double-header is a huge plus for the Scandinavian club, but can the Frenchman's replacement help get Arsenal over the line?
Danny Welbeck has endured another campaign of frustration at the Emirates Stadium. If it is not injuries keeping the forward out for a number of weeks, it's the form of another player leaving the 27-year-old sat firmly on the bench. Welbeck has still managed to make 22 appearances in all competitions since the start of August, but just 12 of those outings have come from the opening whistle, while the player has been given just four minutes of action since the 2-1 defeat at Bournemouth on January 14. It has not necessarily been a lack of faith from Wenger but more about having a vast array of options at his disposal and Welbeck - given his fitness issues and poorer goals-per-game ratio - has been the fall guy.
We still should not forget that Welbeck is an established operator in the final third and would likely be a certain starter at every club outside of the top six. The England international also has previous for netting important goals for his club or country when they have desperately needed it. Who can forget that last-gasp goal at home to future Premier League champions Leicester City in February 2016, a contribution on his first outing after a prolonged spell on the sidelines? Welbeck has never been consistent but it was further evidence of what he is capable of.
Aubameyang will continue to take centre stage in the top flight but providing that he keeps himself fit, Welbeck could have at least four matches in the coming weeks to stake his claim for a regular place in the starting lineup, and even for a spot in Gareth Southgate's England squad for the World Cup. It's not quite last-chance saloon as far as his Arsenal and Three Lions careers are concerned, but opportunities have been few and far between of late and Welbeck knows that he needs to capitalise on this opening in the first XI.