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Preview: Cologne v Arsenal: attacker ruled out, 18-year-old to start + prediction

By on November 23, 2017

danny welbeck arsenal

Arsenal can secure top spot in Europa League Group H when we take on Cologne in Germany this evening.

We head in to the game sitting five points clear at the top of our group following a 0-0 draw with second-placed Red Star Belgrade last time out.

That disappointing stalemate at the Emirates secured qualification to the knockout stages of the competition but we can guarantee top spot with a win later on.

Cologne are currently bottom of Group H on just three points and we won the reverse fixture 3-1 – a game that was overshadowed by crowd trouble after 20,000 enthusiastic Germans descended on the Emirates.

The atmosphere at the RheinEnergieStadion should be electric but the fact is Cologne are a limited side who are bottom of the Bundesliga without a win so we should be confident of bringing home all three points.

Team news

It’s going to be all-change once again in the Europa League as Wenger is set to rest our big-guns ahead of the trip to Burnley on Sunday afternoon.

Giroud could be back in contention after recovering from a thigh injury while Chambers is also available after shaking off a hip complaint.

Ospina will return in goal after overcoming a groin problem while Welbeck should start after recovering from his own groin injury that kept him out for a month.

Walcott won’t be available as he’s been left back in north London with illness while youngsters Nelson, Maitland-Niles, Willock and Nketiah are all expected to feature.

Preferred line-up

Wenger is expected to go with Giroud up front but I’d love to see 18-year-old Nketiah given a chance to impress along with fellow youngsters Nelson and Maitland-Niles.

I also don’t see why Wilshere isn’t being deployed in his best position, which is in a deeper midfield role. Arsene is playing him further forward but I’d like to see Jack in central midfield with Iwobi starting in attack.

Alex isn’t getting many starts as he’s deemed too good for the second-string but not good enough for the first team so this is the ideal solution.

The majority of the side picks itself, this would be my eleven:

In reality, Wenger will probably go with Giroud up top, Wilshere in attack and Elneny alongside Coquelin in midfield.

Prediction

As long as the players cope with the heated atmosphere we should have enough quality to get the win – even if it is the reserve team. We made hard work of the home game against Cologne and laboured to a draw against Red Star so let’s hope the boys put in a decent display this evening. I’m going for 1-3. Cologne 1-3 Arsenal

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