Predicted Arsenal Line-up To Face FC Koln In The Europa League
Arsenal might have experience in the Europa League, but the Gunners have already secured a place in the competition’s Round of 32 and Arsene Wenger, the veteran gaffer, is expected to rotate his side against the struggling German outfit FC Koln, who are currently placed at bottom of the Bundesliga tally without a single win in the league so far. Arsenal won 3-1 at the Emirates and are expected to grab a result in their trip to Koln this Thursday.
Hitman Olivier Giroud remains doubtful for the midweek clash due to his thigh injury. Santi Cazorla is still months away from returning from his long-standing heel injury. Rob Holding and Calum Chambers, their young defensive duo, is fit again and is expected to make it to the travelling squad. Theo Walcott should be fine too following short-term unavailability due to illness and might break into the matchday squad against FC Koln.
Wenger switched to a ‘back three’ formation last season that worked out for the North Londoners towards the end of a disappointing campaign that ended on a high note when they clinched the FA Cup title by defeating Chelsea. The veteran Frenchman has opted to retain the same this term as well and should field his side in a 3-4-2-1.
Manager: Arsene Wenger
David Ospina (GK)
The Colombian custodian has been Peter Cech’s deputy since his move to the Emirates. Ospina missed out their outing against FK Crvena Zvezda due to injury and was replaced by academy graduate Matt Macey between the sticks. However, he is set for a first-team return against FC Koln as the second choice Gunners custodian will be longing for game-time.
Mathieu Debuchy (RCB)
Arsenal’s forgotten Frenchman received a surprise start in their scoreless draw against FK Crvena Zvezda and his impressive display might earn him another one against their midweek opponents.
Per Mertesacker (CB)
The veteran German centre-back will hang up his boots at the end of the season and has been impressive in a sporadic role. Mertesacker is expected to travel to his country and might also be handed a central defensive role in the Gunners’ 3-man back-line.
Rob Holding (LCB)
The young Englishman was out injured during their weekend victory over bitter rivals Tottenham Hotspur but is believed to be back in contention for the midweek outing. Although the Gunners have the likes of Nacho Monreal and Calum Chambers as defensive options, Wenger might give Holding a nod over others at Rhein Energie Stadion.
Hector Bellerin ( RWB)
Bellerin scored the Gunners’ third goal against Cologne in the first leg tie and although 17-year-old starlet Reiss Nelson was preferred against FK Crvena Zvezda, Wenger might opt for experience and hand Bellerin a start on Thursday evening. It’s hard to predict though.
Mohamed Elneny (CM)
The Egyptian was slotted in a central defensive role against FK Crvena Zvezda but is expected to be restored in his usual midfield role against FC Koln.
Francis Coquelin (CM)
Coquelin is struggling to have enough minutes due to bad form and subsequent injuries. But the Frenchman should have his opportunity in the middle of the park against the Bundesliga outfit.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles (LWB)
The high-profile Arsenal academy graduate is capable of playing in multiple roles and fared well against FK Crvena Zvezda in their previous Europa League outing. Although Kolasinac netted against the Thursday opponents in the first leg, Wenger is believed to rely on the youngster once more and hand him a start in left wing-back role.
Theo Walcott (RAM)
Walcott has struggled to have game-time this season but is expected to start against FC Koln if he recovers from his illness.
Jack Wilshere (LAM)
Wilshere, someone who was once tipped as England’s next-gen superstar, has witnessed an unfortunate downfall in the past three years. He is now a fringe squad player at Arsenal whose contract is set to run out next summer. But the midfielder has shown glimpses of his class with limited game-time and should feature on Thursday.
Danny Welbeck (ST)
Although Olivier Giroud is back in training, Wenger might not rush his return and should prefer Welbeck as his striking option ahead of Alexandre Lacazette, who is expected to be rested against the Bundesliga strugglers.