Graham Potter: Facing Arsenal is like an FA Cup third-round tie
Potter has led the club from lower-league minnows to the surprise package of the Europa League.
Ostersund boss Graham Potter has likened the Swedish club’s Europa League clash with Arsenal to a traditional third-round FA Cup tie.
The Gunners travel to snowy Sweden on Thursday looking to set themselves up for progression into the last 16 of the competition.
In their way are Ostersund, managed by Englishman Potter, who have been on a fairytale adventure from lower-league minnows to the surprise package of the Europa League.
Potter took charge of the club, formed a month after Arsene Wenger was appointed Arsenal boss in 1996, seven years ago and has not looked back.
Under the tutelage of the former West Brom and Southampton defender, the club have risen from the fourth division to the Allsvenskan and last April won the Svenska Cupen – their first ever major trophy.
Now they welcome Arsenal to town and, although he was keen to point out that Ostersund have already stunned the likes of Turkish giants Galatasaray to get this far, Potter admits it has the set-up of a classic FA Cup romance.
“In some ways I know where you are coming from in terms of the small team against the big team, absolutely,” he said when asked to compare the tie to an FA Cup match.
“For us in this type of game, as we have approached all the games in Europe, we have tried to play as well as we can, be ourselves in the game and use the opportunity to show what we are about.
“Normally in the third round of the FA Cup you have not beaten Galatasary or PAOK or Hertha Berlin. But in terms of the size of the two teams, absolutely. We are obviously all excited about the game and the visit of Arsenal, a Champions League club.”
Despite bringing Ostersund from obscurity to European competition, Potter conceded beating Wenger’s Arsenal would top all his previous achievements.
“I’ve never got through to the last 16 of the Europa League so of course it will be the biggest. Because that is where we’re at, that’s the competition,” he said.
“Everything we’ve done, every stage we’ve got to is new to us. That’s why I’m so proud of the players and so impressed by them because it’s not easy to do something that’s never been done before.
“We’d never won a major trophy before, we won that. We were never in a Europa League qualification before, especially against a big team like Galatasaray and we coped with that really well.
“It goes without saying if we are successful it’s a huge moment for everybody connected with the club. Not just mine, but the players and the chairman I imagine.”