Will Arsene Wenger take the Europa League seriously and other Arsenal key questions

The Gunners face Cologne at the Emirates but will Arsene Wenger take the competition and field his strongest side?

David Cooper
by David Cooper
13th September 2017

article:13th September 2017

Arsenal embark on a Europa League campaign when Cologne visit the Emirates on Thursday night.

Here, we look at some key talking points ahead of the clash.


WILL ARSENE WENGER TAKE IT SERIOUSLY?

Arsenal boss Wenger has already said the Premier League is the priority for the Gunners this season.

The Frenchman is also not a fan of the Europa League winners earning a slot in the following year’s Champions League – as Manchester United did last season – and would rather get there by breaking back into the top four.

Wenger has always played a changed team during Arsenal’s League Cup ties and it is likely to be a similar story when Bundesliga side Cologne visit London.

Wenger is not a fan of Europa League winner's passage into the Champions League

Wenger is not a fan of Europa League winner’s passage into the Champions League

SO, WHO WILL BE IN THE TEAM?

Seven of Arsenal’s first-choice players will be rested completely from the game with Petr Cech, Laurent Koscielny, Alexandre Lacazette, Granit Xhaka, Aaron Ramsey, Danny Welbeck and Mesut Ozil all sitting this one out.

That does not necessarily mean it will be a team of inexperienced youngsters as Jack Wilshere could make a long-awaited comeback while Alexis Sanchez may feature as he strives for match sharpness.

Back-up David Ospina is likely to come in, while the likes of Shkodran Mustafi, Per Mertesacker, Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud are also in contention.

Jack Wilshere was sent off in a Premier League 2 fixture earlier this season

Jack Wilshere was sent off in a Premier League 2 fixture earlier this season

SHOULD THEY BEAT COLOGNE NO MATTER WHO PLAYS?

Peter Stoger’s side finished a strong fifth in the Bundesliga last season, albeit 13 points behind fourth-placed Hoffenheim.

This campaign has started badly for the Billy Goats, who have lost their opening three league games to sit bottom of the table – they are the only top-flight German side without a point so far.

Like Arsenal, who lost the 2000 UEFA Cup final to Galatasaray, they have history in this competition and finished as runners-up in 1986, losing the final 5-3 to Real Madrid over two legs.

Peter Stoeger

Peter Stoeger

DO COLOGNE HAVE ANY RECOGNISABLE TALENT?

No star names jump out of the Cologne squad, but they have some good players nonetheless.

Their talisman from last season, Anthony Modeste, is currently out on loan in the Chinese Super League having hit 25 goals for Stoger’s men last season.

Forward Yuya Osako is a Japan international, while experienced skipper Matthias Lehmann has been around the block.

New signing Jhon Cordoba has been likened to Didier Drogba in the past while a host of former Germany international youth talents make up much of the squad.

New signing Jhon Cordoba in action this season

New signing Jhon Cordoba in action this season

WILL IT BE A SELL-OUT?

Arsenal have slashed ticket prices for their Europa League group games, with the most expensive ticket for Thursday’s match a modest £23.50, but the game is not sold out.

The club never announce their attendances but instead work on a ‘tickets sold’ basis – although Thursday is likely to be well down on the 59,000+ that pack into the Emirates Stadium for Premier League matches and Champions League evenings.


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