Arsenal return to Europa League action tomorrow against FC Köln. The Gunners sit atop Group H and have already clinched qualification to the knockout rounds. A point guarantees they win the group. Köln must win to preserve its slim hopes of advancing.
When the two sides met at the Emirates in September, Arsenal prevailed 3-1 with goals from Sead Kolašinac, Alexis Sánchez, and Héctor Bellerín. The match was marred by the crowd control / ticketing issues that saw thousands of extra Köln supporters descend on the Emirates and resulted in Köln paying for damage to the stadium.
Theo Walcott will most likely not be available for Arsenal as he recovers from an illness. Olivier Giroud traveled with the team after suffering a knee injury on international duty. Walcott and Giroud have both started all four Europa League matches for Arsenal.
The obvious replacement for Walcott is Danny Welbeck. Welbeck has missed more than a month with a hamstring injury, and a Europa League match provides a chance for him to work back into form.
It looks as though Giroud will start, but should Arsene Wenger not want the Frenchman to play the full 90 minutes, Eddie Nketiah and Chuba Akpom are available to come off the bench. Arsenal supporters have been clamoring for Nketiah to get more playing time following his double against Norwich in the Carabao Cup.
You should expect to see Per Mertesacker return to the back three between Mathieu Debuchy and one of Rob Holding / Calum Chambers. The BFG’s return frees Mohamed Elneny to play his preferred central midfield role, although Francis Coquelin may start alongside Joe Willock instead. The rest of Arsenal’s lineup should be unchanged from prior Europa League contests.
The Gunners face a depleted Köln side. Regular starters Simon Zoller (striker) and Dominique Heintz (centerback) are both unavailable. Vice-captain and German international Jonas Hector is still out long-term, recovering from the ankle injury he suffered at the Emirates. The Billy Goats (still an awesome nickname) also have several regular substitutes in doubt for the match.
Watching real football on Thanksgiving has to be better than watching American football. Happy Thanksgiving from TSF!
WHAT: FC Köln vs. Arsenal
WHEN: Thursday, November 23rd, 10 AM PT | 1 PM EST | 7 PM BST
WHERE: RheinEnergieStadion, Cologne, Germany
US TV: Fox Sports 1
OUTSIDE THE US: Check livesoccer.tv for all of your watching / streaming needs. Please do not discuss or share links to illegal streams here.
Update: Pacific match time corrected. Basic math is apparently difficult for me.