By 90Min
September 13, 2017

Arsenal will make their debut in the Europa League this week, hosting Cologne in Group H at the Emirates Stadium.

Following a fifth placed finish in the Premier League, Arsenal 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 single point from their opening three Bundesliga matches.

Meeting for the first time in UEFA competition, in Arsenal's first appearance in the UEFA Europa League, means it'll be a night of firsts at the Emirates.


Recent Form

IAN KINGTON/GettyImages

Arsenal got their season back on track last Saturday, comfortably beating Bournemouth 3-0 at home, with a brace from Danny Welbeck and a Alexandre Lacazette strike securing three points following two away losses before the international break.

For the German side, they've had a poor start to their campaign, losing all three of their matches so far including a very disappointing 3-0 defeat away at Augsburg.

It is with noting that Arsenal have lost five of their last seven home matches to German opposition, though Cologne are yet to win in England after five away encounters. 

Key Battle

Olivier Giroud vs Frederik Sorensen & Dominique Heinz

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With Lacazette expected to be rested for the Gunners' trip to Chelsea at the weekend, fellow French striker Olivier Giroud is expected to start on Thursday, with attacking midfielders Theo Walcott and Alex Iwobi also potentially stepping in to support him.

Giroud will see this game, and this competition, as a massive opportunity to get some minutes on the pitch and some goals as he plays second fiddle to his compatriot Lacazette. 

He'll come up against a centre-back pairing yet to keep a clean sheet so far this season, conceding seven goals in three games. With Alexis Sanchez also potentially starting, Giroud will be keen to lead his side to victory in Matchday One.

Team News

IAN KINGTON/GettyImages

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 Mertsesacker - Laurent Koscielny is suspended.

The biggest news is perhaps that Jack Wilshere is in line for his first start of the season in the centre of the park, alongside Elneny. Sanchez, Walcott and Iwobi couldl also come in.

For Cologne, they're expected to remain unchanged for their long-awaited return to European football.

Potential Arsenal Starting Line-up: Ospina; Nelson, Holding, Mertesacker, Monreal, Kolasnic; Elneny, Wilshere; Iwobi, Walcott; Giroud


Potential Cologne Starting Line-up: Horn; Klunter, Sorensen, Heintz, Hector; Zoller, Lehmann, Hoger, Bittencourt; Osako, Cordoba 

Prediction

Arsenal have a habit of rolling away weak teams at home, and in the form the Germans have started this campaign, a comfortable Arsenal win is expected.

Prediction: Arsenal 3-0 Cologne 

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