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Little to play for as Koln hosts Arsenal in Europa League encounter 

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574   //    23 Nov 2017, 16:55 IST

Elneny shepherds the ball during a recent Europa League game
Elneny shepherds the ball during a recent Europa League game

Arsenal made their debut in the Europa League in this campaign, following a fifth-place finish in the Premier League.

The Gunners are playing in Europe's secondary competition for the first time since their run to the UEFA Cup final in 2000 - where they lost on penalties to Turkish side Galatasaray.

Manager Arsene Wenger is keen to take this competition seriously but is expected to make a host of changes against a side who have not taken a point from their last three Bundesliga matches.

Both sides met for the first time in UEFA competition, in Arsenal's first appearance in the UEFA Europa League at the Emirates where Arsenal defeated the German side 3-1

Recent Form

Arsenal got their season back on track last Saturday, comfortably beating Tottenham 2-0, with goals from Shkodran Mustafi and Alexis Sanchez strike securing the three points following an away loss at Manchester City before the international break.

Arsenal currently sits top of their group with 10 points from four matches, recording three victories and a draw.

For the German side, they had a poor start to their campaign, losing their first five Bundesliga matches and have also failed to secure any point in their last three domestic games. 

It is worth noting that Arsenal has lost five of their last eight home matches to German opposition, though Koln is yet to win in England after six away encounters. 

They are currently at the bottom of the table as they have only been able to get three points from four matches.

Key Battle

Young starlet Eddie Nketiah may get the nod to start tonight
Young starlet Eddie Nketiah may get the nod to start tonight

Arsenal Striker vs Frederik Sorensen/Toby Rausch

With Olivier Giroud out injured, Lacazette may retain his place up front after featuring for the Gunners against Tottenham at the weekend.

However, given the fact that there is nothing at stake here, Wenger may opt to give Danny Welbeck or teen sensation Eddie Nketiah the nod to start

Whoever starts will be playing against a centre-back pairing yet to keep two clean sheets so far this season, conceding 23 goals in twelve games.

Team News

Arsene Wenger is said to be considering a rotation policy for this competition, starting right at the back, where David Ospina is expected to replace Petr Cech.

Ahead of him, they may well be chances for Reiss Nelson and Per Mertesacker.

Jack Wilshere may also get to start in the centre of the park, alongside Mohamed Elneny. Theo Walcott and Alex Iwobi could also come in.

For Koln, they're expected to remain unchanged from their last Bundesliga encounter, a 1-0 loss to Mainz.

Predicted Arsenal Starting Line-up:

Ospina – Elneny, Debuchy, Holding – Nelson, Willock, Coquelin, Maitland-Niles – Wilshire, Walcott (c) - Welbeck

Predicted Koln Starting Line-up:

T. Horn – Klünter, Maroh, Sörensen, Rausch – Jojic, Lehmann (c), Clemens, Bittencourt – Cordoba, Guirassy


Statistics

Koln has been UEFA Cup semi-finalists three times, most recently in the 1989/90 season.

Koln was 1-0 up at half-time in the reverse fixture on Matchday 1 but eventually lost 3-1.

This is the Billy Goats' first European campaign in 20 years.

Cologne duo Marco Höger and Christian Clemens both played alongside Arsenal's Sead Kolasinac at Schalke.

Peter Stöger's men have won one and lost one of their home fixtures in the Europa League this season.

Arsenal has already qualified for the next round and only need to avoid defeat here to be sure of top spot.


Prediction

Arsenal has a habit of thrashing weak teams at, and given how bad the Germans have been this campaign, a comfortable Arsenal win is expected.

Arsenal 3-0 Koln

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