Arsenal will compete in the Europa League for the first time in almost 18 years after finishing 5th in the Premier League last season.
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Arsene Wenger’s side have been handed a favourable draw and kick start their campaign with a home clash against German opposition FC Koln.
With a place in the Champions League up for grabs Arsene Wenger may see the Europa League as Arsenal’s best chance of returning to Europe’s top table, and like Manchester United and Jose Mourinho did last season, chuck all his eggs in to one basket.
The Gunners got back to winning ways at the weekend by beating Bournemouth 3-0 following their embarrassing defeat to Liverpool before the international break. Their opponents on Thursday will be no pushovers. Koln finished fifth in the Bundesliga last term, but have started the new campaign with three defeats on the bounce leaving them bottom of the table.
Wenger’s team selection could indicate how serious he’s taking the competition, heavy rotation would suggest he does not see the Europa League as their main priority, which would be a huge surprise – but very Arsene Wenger.
Jack Wilshere could make his first start for the Gunners in 13 months. Olivier Giroud, Theo Walcott and Alexis Sanchez are also expected to feature. But Wenger will be without defender Laurent Koscielny through suspension and the injured Francis Coquelin.
Heading into the game Arsenal have lost five of their last seven home games against German opposition, while Koln are yet to win in England.
Despite the Gunners’ poor recent form against German clubs I fully expect them to start their 2017/18 Europa League campaign by bagging all three points at the Emirates.
Arsenal are 1/3 to win, so there’s not much value there. Instead Arsenal half time/full time at 4/5 could be the bet of the evening.