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Arsenal to avoid Bundesliga history on Europa League debut

Europa League By: Collins Udeme | 13/09/2017

Arsenal to avoid Bundesliga history on Europa League debut

Arsenal will hope to avoid a repeat of their last home result against Bundesliga opponents as Köln come calling on Thursday on their UEFA Europa League debut.

It is the first time in 20 years that the Gunners, who finished fifth in the Premier League last season, have started a season in Europe's second-tier competition having been drawn in the same group as BATE Borisov, Cologne and Red Star Belgrade.

Winning the Europa League could be Arsenal's best route to returning to Europe's elite competition as there is no guarantee they will finish 2017-18 in the Premier League's top four.

Heavy rotation from Wenger for Thursday's match would suggest he does not see the Europa League as a priority but winning the Europa League appears Arsenal's best route to Champions League retrun as there is no guarantee they will finish 2017-18 in the Premier League's top four considering how poorly they've kicked off their domestic campaign.

Team News

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger had said he would rotate for Thursday game and seven first-teamers didn't even train on Wednesday as the Gunners prepare to face Koln.

Petr Cech, Laurent Koscielny, Danny Welbeck, Mesut Ozil, Aaron Ramsey and Granit Xhaka were all missing from training on Wednesday morning, as Wenger appears to prioritise Premier League football over Uefa's second-tier competition.

Centre-back Laurent Koscielny will miss out as he is serving a one-game suspension, per UEFA.
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Head-to-Head

The clubs are meeting for the first time in UEFA competition. Arsenal's record in 36 games against Bundesliga sides is W16 D6 L14 (W11 D1 L6 at home). They have lost five of their last seven home matches against German teams. Köln's record in 12 encounters with English clubs is W2 D4 L6 (D2 L3 in England)

Form guide

Arsenal were beaten 5-1 at home by Köln's domestic rivals Bayern in their last European home fixture, in last season's UEFA Champions League round of 16. Köln have lost only one of their last five European away games (W3 D1 L1) – though all of those matches were played in the 1990s.

Arsenal are making their UEFA Europa League group stage debut; their last appearance in this competition was the 2000 UEFA Cup final, which they lost on penalties to Galatasaray. Runners-up in the two-legged 1986 UEFA Cup final, Köln are back in Europe for the first time in 20 years; their only previous group campaigns were in the UEFA Intertoto Cup.

The coaches

Arsène Wenger has been Arsenal boss since 1996, leading the Gunners to three English titles, seven FA Cups and the 2006 UEFA Champions League final. An unremarkable player, he made his name as a coach with Nancy and Monaco in his native France.

Peter Stöger has guided Köln back into Europe for the first time in 20 years. A four-time league champion – and 65-times capped international – as a player in his native Austria, he moved to Köln after steering Austria Wien to the 2012/13 title.
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