Arsenal vs FC Koln – Europa League Preview – Arsenal begin life in the Europa League at home, as they host FC Koln. After an impressive fifth place finish in the Bundesliga, the Germany club have proved themselves to be no mugs.
Another new season, but the same old Arsenal. After a less than convincing start to their league campaign, questions are yet again being asked about Arsene Wenger’s future at the club. A tense 4-3 home win on the opening day of the season was then followed by back to back away defeats. A typical spineless display from the Gunners saw them lose 1-0 at Stoke and then a week later they suffered a 4-0 defeat against a rampant Liverpool side at Anfield. With the pressure mounting on Wenger, just weeks in to his new two year contract, they reacted at the weekend with a 3-0 home win over Bournemouth.
Recruitment over the summer has been mediocre at the Emirates, with the headlines being dominated by the future of Alexis Sanchez. The Chilean was denied a deadline day transfer to Manchester City, and with less than 12 month remaining on his contract, he looks set to leave on a free at the end of the season. Throw in the departure of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlin and the below average performances of Mesut Ozil, and you have yourself a right old mess.
The one shining light however has been the signing of Alexandre Lacazette. The French forward was Arsenal’s marquee summer addition, arriving from Lyon for a reported £55 million. Lacazette got off to the perfect start, scoring just three minutes in to his debut again Leicester, and grabbed his second of the season in their win at the weekend. He seems to be everything the Gunners have missed over the last few seasons; pace, energy and goals. If Arsenal can get Sanchez back playing, the combination he could strike up with Lacazette could be deadly, and see them challenge both domestically, and in Europe.
Despite a fantastic season last year, Koln are yet to pick up a point this season, and sit rock bottom of the league after three games. The departure of 27 goals striker Anthony Modeste has hit the club hard, with the Frenchman joining Tianjin Quanjian for £30 million in the summer. They do possess some young upcoming talent, with Spain under 21 international Jorge Mere leading their defence and German winger Leonardo Bittencourt.
Although this will be a tougher game than many might think, I still think Arsenal will have enough to come out winners. It will be interesting to see what side Wegner puts out, with him trying to balance his squad in Europe and the Premier League.
Prediction: Arsenal 3-0 Koln