Arsenal are big favourites to pick up all three points in their opening Europa League group game on Thursday night when they play host to German Bundesliga side FC Koln at the Emirates Stadium. The Gunners have been in fine form on home soil while the visitors can’t a buy a win this season, and Arsenal should have no slip-ups in their first game of the competition as a result.
According to ESPN, Bayern Munich manager Carlo Ancelotti could return to England in search for a new challenge if he exits the Allianz Arena this season, and the Arsenal job is believed to be one he could end up pursuing.
Ancelotti won the German Bundesliga title and DFL Supercup in his first season in Germany, but there’s reports of discontentment behind the scenes after their early Champions League exit and failure to reach the German Cup final.
Arsene Wenger has stated the new season under pressure among Arsenal supporters following their poor start in the Premier League, and defeat to Chelsea on Sunday could almost make his position untenable.
FC Koln captain Matthias Lehmann is under no illusions that his side are major underdogs ahead of their trip to the Emirates Stadium, reports talkSPORT. The struggling Bundesliga side, currently bottom without a point to their name, face Arsenal in their opening Europa League group game and are a long short with every bookmaker with the Gunners boasting a 100% record on home soil this season.
Nevertheless, Lehmann isn’t disheartened going into the game as underdogs. He said: “We really look forward to the challenge, it is independent to the Bundesliga. We want to enjoy the game and show passion in the game. We are definitely not the favourite, they have a big squad and top players and there will be other top players who start.
According to the Mirror, Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere will be named in the squad against FC Koln for Thursday’s Europa League clash. The Gunners are 2/7 to win against the German Bundesliga side, but it will be a special moment to see a player make his long-awaited return after 13 months.
Wilshere has been recovering from a leg fracture picked up while on loan with Bournemouth. He suffered the injury in April and has been playing for the u23s to build up his match fitness. The 25-year-old is playing for his future, with his contract expiring at the end of next summer, so this week’s European encounter may have significant importance for Wilshere.
According to Sport Bild, Arsenal and Germany playmaker Mesut Ozil hasn’t heled contract talks with the club since February, reports talkSPORT. The 28-year-old rejected a new deal seven months ago and the two parties haven’t come together to discuss an extension since.
Ozil’s contract with Arsenal expires at the end of the current season, and with little progress being made on his future at the Emirates Stadium, the World Cup winner could be leaving for free in the summer of 2018. It would be a big loss for the Gunners, both financially and on the pitch.
Arsenal wantaway forward Lukas Podolski has reiterated his desire to return for a third spell at FC Koln as he appears to be nearing the Emirates exit.
Even if Arsene Wenger is adamant the Germany star is not for sale, the 29-year-old is no longer prepared to wait for his chance in North London and everything suggests he will be leaving as early as January.
And while some of Europe’s top sides remain keen on his services, Podolski cannot seem to stop thinking about FC Koln, the club where it all started for him, and he has said in no uncertain terms that a return to RheinEnergie Stadion is on the cards.