The Gunners begin their European campaign this week but for the first time it will be in the Europa League instead of the usual Champions League with us facing Bundesliga’s bottom placed team Fc Koln in the group stages.
Because of last season’s fifth place finish, the Gunners will begin life in Europe’s second competition.
After registering a 3-0 victory over AFC Bournemouth in the Premier league, Arsenal are up in the Europa League in their first group stage match against FC Koln but will have to keep an eye on the weekend Premier League fixture.
The Gunners face defending champions Chelsea during the weekend and will look to build momentum ahead of their trip to Stanford Bridge.
In a bid to keep his squad fresh and provide game time to other first time players, Mirror reports that Arsene Wenger plans to make drastic changes to his starting line up with as many as 5 changes to the squad that faced Bournemouth on Match day 4.
With Wenger not handing starting roles to players like Olivier Giroud, Theo Walcott and Alexis Sanchez last time out, the newspaper reports that all of them are set to be included in the starting 11 on thursday.
Along with Francis Coquelin and Santi Cazorla already ruled out, more number of players are set to be left out of match day squad as they have played a couple of matches in the International break and also again on Saturday.
Laurent Koscielny for one will also not be available for Arsenal’s first Europa League game of the season because of suspension. Arsenal Captain was sent off during Arsenals last Champions League fixture against Bayern Munich and as a result will serve his suspension.
Speaking to Arsenal official website, Wenger has confirmed his plans of leaving a few first team players out for the Europa League clash against FC Koln
It will be a Premier League team.Some players will come in of course, because many players played twice for the national team, and then again today.So two or three will not be in the squad, but most of them will play.
Speaking on the possibility of including Jack Wilshere in the starting line up Wenger said :
I told you in the [pre-match] press conference that he’s getting stronger and stronger.The fact that Francis is now out gives him a chance as well.I don’t know yet. He’s not far from that.
That means along with Coquelin, Cazorla, Koscielny already out, other players like Lacazette, Ozil and Ramsey should be left out of the starting line.
It should see players like Giroud, Elneny, Iwobi, Walcott or even young Ress Nelson getting the nod at right wing back.
Jack Wilshere is probably not ready yet to feature from the start but will most likely make an appearance depending on how the match plays out.
Other players like Ospina, Rob Holding and Per Mertesacker will surely be a part of the team against FC Koln.
As for Sanchez I doubt he will be included in the starting line up. Not completely match fit and a much more necessity for the weekend trip to Chelsea, being on the bench serves him and us better than unnecessarily taking the field.
Giroud is definitely starting as our main striker, as for Walcott if he has any chance of making it in this new formation, the Europa League group stages surely provides him the perfect platform to showcase his adjustability and efficiency in the team.
Although we do wish to take the Europa League seriously during the latter stages, for now the group stages provides us the perfect platform to experiment with our setup in incorporating different players in different positions and for providing exposure to the youngsters like Ress Nelson and Ainsley Maitland-Niles in dealing with relatively high profile oppositions.