On Thursday night, Arsenal kick-off their Europa League campaign with a home game against Koln at the Emirates Stadium.
Arsenal last featured in the Europa League back in 2000 when it was known as the UEFA Cup. The Gunners reached the final that year only to beaten by Turkish outfit Galatasaray.
The team from north London have played their European football in the Champions League since that final appearance. In fact, the Gunners had dropped out of Europe’s elite competition into the Europa League that season.
Arsene Wenger’s side will head into this clash in good spirits after beating Bournemouth 3-0 at the Emirates Stadium in their last top-flight outing. Forward Danny Welbeck scored a brace, while French striker Alexandre Lacazette also got on the scoresheet.
The win against the Cherries means that the Gunners are now nine games unbeaten on home soil in all competitions. Their last home defeat came in last season’s Champions League when German giants Bayern Munich recorded a 5-1 victory in north London.
The home side have also now won their last six home games in all competitions. They will be highly confident of extending that winning run against the German visitors.
Koln were a surprise package in the German top-flight last season. However, this season has started in disastrous fashion for Peter Stoger’s team. The visitors have lost all three of their Bundesliga games so far and are bottom of the table.
The German side have also managed to score just once this season. Therefore Koln are not travelling to the English capital in the best of form.
Koln like Arsenal have not featured in this competition during the Europa League days but were a regular fixture in the UEFA Cup in the 1970’s, 80’s and early 90’s. In fact, the German side were beaten finalists in this competition back in 1986.
It is a long time since the visitors have featured in this competition, with their last appearance in this competition back in 1993.
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is set to rotate his squad, which could mean the likes of David Ospina, Jack Wilshere, Olivier Giroud and Alex Iwobi all come into the starting line-up. Chilean star Alexis Sanchez could return to the starting line-up.
The Gunners are without Francis Coquelin and Santi Cazorla through injury, while there are still doubts over the fitness of defender Calum Chambers.
Koln boss Stoger may also rotate his squad in north London. The German side have doubts over the fitness of Marcel Risse and Frederik Sorensen.
Arsenal are the favourites to win this clash at odds of 4/9, while the draw is odds of 15/4 and the away win 15/2.
Arsenal will be keen to build on the win last time out. Wenger’s team should have enough quality to see off the out of form German side.
Will Arsenal record a victory over Koln on Thursday?