Arsenal train ahead of Europa League clash in Cologne: Early team news
- Credit: Archant
Arsenal will be aiming to seal their position at the top of their UEFA Europa League group on Thursday when they visit rock-bottom Cologne.
Arsene Wenger’s side are sitting pretty at the head of Group H with two matches remaining in Group H and a five-point lead over second placed Red Star Belgrade in the runner-up spot.
A point would be enough for them to win the group winner with Cologne requiring a win to stay in mathematical contention for the knock-out stages at the very least.
The Islington Gazette visited London Colney to observe the Gunners final training session before the team flew to northern Germany.
Olivier Giroud took part in light training in front of the media as did Jack Wilshere, but there was no Theo Walcott as Wenger looks to rotate his side for the match similar to previous games in the tournament.
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Alexis Sanchez and Wenger shared a conversation and a handshake before training as Mesut Ozil, fresh from his heroics in the derby-day 2-0 victory over Spurs at the Emirates on Saturday, walked out onto the manicured pitches covered in a snood.
Rob Holding also took part as did club captain Per Mertesacker as team spirit appeared high as the players played short passing games, with much hilarity when a player ‘lost’.
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For Peter Stooger’s Cologne – who sit bottom of the Bundesliga with only two points, six points adrift of 17th place SC Freiburg the match will be a welcome diversion, although with the side being comprehensively outplayed 3-1 at the Emirates in September the North Londoners are big favourites.
Stoger has a raft of injury issues to deal with as Jonas Hector, Simon Zoller and Dominique Heintz are set to fail late fitness tests with Marco Hoger, Marcel Risse, Christian Clemens and Nikolas Nartey all doubtful too.
Thousands of Arsenal fans are expected to travel to Germany.
Possible Cologne XI: Timo Horn; Lukas Klunter, Frederik Sorensen, Dominic Maroh, Konstantin Rausch; Christian Clemens, Matthias Lehman, Salih Ozcan, Leonardo Bittencourt; Sehrou Guirassy, Jhon Cordoba
Wilshere will surely start and continue his superb form with the fit again Giroud also in contention. Starlet Eddie Nketiah was not spotted at training but it understood he will travel with the squad.
Possible Arsenal XI: Matt Macey; Mathieu Debuchy, Mohamed Elneny, Rob Holding; Reiss Nelson, Joe Willock, Francis Coquelin, Ainsley Maitland-Niles; Jack Wilshere, Olivier Giroud, Eddie Nketiah