Arsenal open their Europa League campaign with a group stage encounter against the German side, FC Koln. Arsenal will be heading into the tournament as the newbies, as they have no prior experience of playing in Europe’s tier-2 league, so it will be interesting to see how they approach this tournament.
Arsene Wenger has gone on record to say that he does not prefer winning the Europa League as a direct route to the Champions League and will be setting up his team for a top-4 finish this time around. While it is debatable, as to how Arsene should prioritize his season; winning the Europa League will surely be a much better proposition as it adds silverware to Arsenal’s cabinet.
Given Arsene’s stance on the competition, it will not come as a surprise to many if he decides to field a considerably inexperienced starting XI, as many believe he will rotate the squad and give youth a chance.
Let’s look at Arsenal’s predicted line up vs FC Koln:
David Ospina will be the goalkeeper in most of the secondary competitions. He is a more than able backup to Petr Cech and will be keen to impress his boss when he takes to the field on Thursday.
Callum Chambers – Per Mertesacker – Rob Holding
As mentioned earlier, Wenger might use the Europa League as testing grounds for most of the young and fringe players in the squad. The defence might see the trio of Chambers, Mertesacker and Holding starting against FC Koln.
Reiss Nelson – Sead Kolasinac
This might come as a shock to most fans, but given Wenger’s policy of squad rotation, we might be seeing a first team European debut being handed out to Reiss Nelson, who is an exciting prospect for Arsenal. Kolasinac will be expected to continue at LWB.
Jack Wilshere – Mohamed Elneny
Another area where Arsene will experiment around with. They are lacking serious options in central midfield, and Coquelin’s injury does not do them any favours. Both Jack Wilshere and Elneny have been on the fringes for most of this season and may be handed precious first team minutes on Thursday.
Alex Iwobi – Olivier Giroud – Danny Welbeck
The attack might see the inclusion of Iwobi and Giroud into the starting lineup. Olivier might start, given his experience of playing up top and popping up with goals every now and then. Danny Welbeck will want to continue in the form that he is in and might be expected to start. Alex Iwobi needs minutes, and this might be his calling.
Arsenal will be expected to play in the 3-4-3 formation.
Here’s Arsenal’s predicted line up vs FC Koln: