Arsenal travel to the remote and chilly Swedish outpost of Ostersund on Thursday night (15 February) for the first leg of their Europa League last-32 tie against unfancied minnows that have made incredible strides under the tutelage of English head coach Graham Potter.

After a disappointing 1-0 north London derby defeat to Tottenham Hotspur at the weekend coupled with Chelsea's subsequent victory over West Bromwich Albion left them eight points adrift of the top four heading towards the business end of the season, a first victory in Europe's much-maligned secondary club competition likely represents the Gunners' best chance to return to the top table of the Champions League.

Arsene Wenger has typically used the Europa League - in addition to the domestic cup competitions - as a chance to hand regular opportunities to fringe members of his first-team squad, though confirmed after that loss to Spurs that he plans to field a full-strength side at Ostersunds FK's 9,000-capacity Jamtkraft Arena with his team not in FA Cup action this weekend.

Owing to their shock third-round exit at the hands of Championship side Nottingham Forest in early January, Arsenal do not play again until the return fixture at the Emirates Stadium on 22 February and will presumably be hoping to wrap up this tie in Sweden given that the second leg comes just three days before the Carabao Cup final clash with Manchester City.

"I would have anyway gone for it, especially as we have no game between the two matches," Wenger was quoted as saying by the Mirror.

"I will play the normal team because it is one of the opportunities we have especially because we don't play in the FA Cup. There is no reason why I should rest players."

With new £56m ($77.5m) January recruit Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang ineligible for the latter stages of the Europa League as the result of former employers Borussia Dortmund's entry, previous record signing Alexandre Lacazette was expected to return to the starting XI against Ostersunds.

Alexandre Lacazette
Alexandre Lacazette could also miss both Europa League last-16 fixtures, should Arsenal progress that far PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images

However, it emerged on Tuesday that the out-of-form French international had undergone a successful arthroscopy on his left knee in London and would be sidelined for between four to six weeks in what Wenger described as a "massive blow".

That unexpected setback, particularly ill-timed given the recent exits of Alexis Sanchez, Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott, leaves Danny Welbeck as Arsenal's only senior available forward in the Europa League. Despite the 27-year-old only recently returning from yet another injury lay-off, you imagine he will be selected to lead the line ahead of teenage academy product Eddie Nketiah.

Any of the club's collection of talented and versatile attacking midfielders - particularly Henrikh Mkhitaryan - could be deployed as a false nine, but that seems unlikely at this stage.

With Wenger's comments in mind and if he sticks with his now preferred 4-3-3 system, it is hard to see too many other changes to the team defeated by Spurs.

However, you would still expect cup regular David Ospina to deputise for the increasingly error-prone Petr Cech and it could be that the impressive Nacho Monreal is rested to allow Sead Kolasinac, who has become a peripheral figure of late having previously looked on track to achieve swift cult status following his free summer transfer from Schalke, an increasingly rare start.

Arsenal vs Ostersunds

The manager could alternatively choose to revert back to his previously favoured 3-4-2-1, while the familiar 4-2-3-1 that proved so effective during the recent 5-2 thrashing of Everton and was also revived for the 6-0 Group H demolition of BATE Borisov in December represents another intriguing option despite the departure of Walcott.

In that formation, Welbeck would be supported by the trio of Mkhitaryan, Mesut Ozil and Alex Iwobi, with Mohamed Elneny dropping out to accommodate the latter and leave Granit Xhaka and Jack Wilshere to operate as a midfield pair.

The lack of a recognised defensive-minded holding midfielder would normally be a concern, as it was when Wilshere and Xhaka were exposed in the 4-2-3-1 in a six-goal thriller against Liverpool before Christmas, but it does not seem overly dismissive of Ostersunds - who have already beaten the likes of Galatasaray and Hertha Berlin this season - to suggest that one may not be required tomorrow evening.

Arsenal vs Ostersunds

All of this is predicated on Aaron Ramsey remaining in the treatment room with Lacazette and long-term absentee Santi Cazorla, with a groin injury having kept the Welshman sidelined since he notched a first Arsenal hat-trick against Everton.