Arsenal began their European campaign this season in the Europe’s second tier competition, UEFA Europa League on Thursday at Emirates Stadium. In the previous season they were not able to finish in the top four in the Premier League and so they are not playing in the Champions League,the elite competition of Europe after 20 seasons. Though Europa League could be very important for Arsenal as in this season also they may not finish in the top four in Premier League and winning Europa League will then provide them the direct berth to the UEFA Champions League next season like the way another club from England, Manchester United had qualified for this season’s Champions League.
Arsenal had won against Bournemouth comprehensively with a 3-0 margin on Saturday previous weekend in the Premier League. Welbeck had struck twice and Lacazette scored one goal in that match. So they will be high on confidence after that win and will try to start their Europa League opening game with a win. Arsenal are placed with Bate Borisov, Red Star Belgrade and FC Koln in the Group H. It is almost confirmed that Arsenal will qualify from this group to the next round as Group Toppers if they can play with their potential with the squad they have.
FC Koln had finished 5th in the previous season in the Bundesliga and earned a berth in the Europa League this season. But this season they are having a poor run of form in Bundesliga as they had lost their all 3 games there. Last weekend ,they had lost against FC Augsburg with a 3-0 margin. So, their confidence level will be in lower side and they will be if they will be happy if they can return with 1 points from Emirates on Thursday as it will be a huge boost for them to qualify for the next round from this group.
Team News :
There are huge possibilities that Arsene Wenger may rotate many players in this match from the starting line up against Bournemouth previous weekend as they have to play the north London Derby against Chelsea this weekend on Sunday.So the players should be in fully fit physical condition when they will play against Chelsea who are in great form right now.
Alexis Sanchez will probably start upfront with Theo Walcott and Oliver Giroud. In the midfield Xhaka, Ramsey, Ozil all might be rested to give opportunities to Elneny, Coquelin and Iwobi. In the defense Mertesacker and Holding could be called in place of Mustafi and Monreal. David Ospina is expected to start as Goalkeeper ahead of Petr Cech in this match.
Santi Carzola and Calum Chambers are out of the Gunners’ squad due to injuries while Laurent Koscielny will not be available for this match for one match ban of UEFA.
FC Koln :
FC Koln manager do not have any injury concerns but he would not be happy with their performance this season in Bundesliga so far. The German International left back Hector will be the main man for FC Koln to provide attacking threats as well as to strengthen their defense also. Heintz, Sorensen and Klunter will help him to keep no holes in their defense from where Gunners could get a break through. Hoger, Lehmann, Zoller and Bittencourt will probably start in the midfield for them while Osaka and Cordoba are expected to lead them from the upfront.
Playing Eleven :
Arsenal : (3-4-3)
Goalkeeper : Ospina
Defenders : Mertesacker, Holding, Monreal.
Midfielders : Matiland-Niles, Bellerin, Elneny, Iwobi.
Attackers : Sanchez, Walcott, Giroud.
FC Koln :(4-4-2)
Defenders : Klunter, Raush, Heintz, Mere.
Midfielders : Hoger, Lehmann, Hector, Bittencourt.
Attackers : Zoller, Cordoba.
My Predicted Scoreline :
Arsenal 2-1 FC Koln.
The game is not over yet and Wenger has made a positive change at the end of the first half. Hopefully, it can do the trick and they can score twice to win.