English giants Arsenal face FC Koln in their first ever Europa League fixture and everything suggests Arsene Wenger will field a second string side.
This could be an opportunity for the Germans to put the first points on the board and make an important step towards the next stage.
Arsenal became synonymous with Champions League group stages after 19 successive campaigns in the competition, but the run has now come to an end.
Chances are that the Gunners will not take Europa League too seriously, at least in the opening rounds, and will use the competition to give back up players and talented youngsters a chance to shine.
Having lost two of their first four Premier League games, Arsenal will be desperate to get something from Sunday’s local derby against Chelsea, meaning that wholesale changes could be on the horizon.
The likes of David Ospina, Olivier Giroud, Theo Walcott and Alex Iwobi are all expected to start as Arsene Wenger looks set to ring the changes.
Even so, Arsenal are priced at 1.95 (19/20)for a half-time/full-time win, which seems like a good option given Koln’s lack of European experience.
Probable starting line-up (3-4-2-1): Ospina – Holding, Mertesacker, Monreal – Bellerin, Elneny, Coquelin, Kolasinac – Walcott, Iwobi – Giroud.
Unlike Arsenal, FC Koln have now ended a 25-year exile from European competitions, having been quite a forced to be reckoned with in the ‘70s and ‘80s.
The Billy Goats impressed to achieve a fifth-place finish in Bundesliga last term and are now preparing for the start of the Europa League group stages.
FC Koln made quite a few signings this summer in an attempt to improve the quality of the squad, but it seems the new players will need some more time to gel.
Jhon Cordoba, Jannes-Kilian Horn, Joao Queiros and Jorge Mere all joined, but the team in turn enjoyed a disappointing start to the season.
FC Koln suffered defeats to Borussia M’gladbach, Hamburg and Augsburg at the start of Bundesliga and now head to North London very low on confidence.
The visitors welcome back Marcel Risse from domestic suspension, while Milos Jojic has recovered from injury and is also in contention.
Probable starting line-up (4-4-2): T. Horn – Kulnter, Sorensen, Heintz, J. Horn – Risse, Lehmann, Hector, Bittencourt – Osako, Cordoba.