Competition: Europa League
The Gunners play their first match of the Europa League tonight against German side Cologne. It will be strange to see Arsenal playing on a Thursday night instead of a Tuesday or Wednesday in the more prestigious Champions League.
With Arsenal traveling to Stamford Bridge on Sunday to play Chelsea in the Premier League, it means that Wenger is likely to play a more rotated team for tonight’s game. There were seven first team players who weren’t involved in training yesterday, those including Aaron Ramsey and Mesut Ozil who played twice during the international break and won’t feature tonight.
David Ospina is expected to start in goal to give him a run out as he’s yet to make an appearance this season. He’s likely to play a similar part as he did last season, playing in all cup competitions while Petr Cech starts in the Premier League.
Other fringe players expected to start include Per Mertesacker, Rob Holding, Mohamed Elneny, Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud. Jack Wilshere is also expected to make a return to the first team which could be his last chance to come back into the Arsenal set up.
However, there is a lack of backup for the wingback positions, with Oxlade-Chamberlain and Gibbs both leaving the club this summer. This means that he’ll most likely start with his first team wingbacks Hector Bellerin and Sead Kolasinac. Though this is quite a risk with the next match coming so soon, if anything happens then he will have to resort to youth players for the Chelsea match which will be much more difficult.
Wenger has said in the pre-match press conference that he will take all competitions seriously, but isn’t trying to use the competition as a backdoor to the Champions League like Manchester United did last season. Cologne hasn’t started their domestic campaign well currently bottom of the Bundesliga with three losses from three games, so hopefully, their form can continue.