Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey are among the players who have been rested as Arsenal host FC Koln in their Europa League curtain raiser on Thursday.
Arsenal make their debut in the Europa League group stage on Thursday when they host Bundesliga side FC Koln at Emirates in a Group H match. Ahead of their first meeting against the German outfit, here’s the all-important team news for the Gunners.
The early signs point towards Arsene Wenger keeping one eye on the weekend’s clutch Premier League game against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, with as many seven key first-team players looking set to be rested on Thursday.
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) September 13, 2017
Petr Cech, Laurent Koscielny, Granit Xhaka, Danny Welbeck, Alexandre Lacazette, Aaron Ramsey and Mesut Ozil all sat out the final training session on Wednesday morning. With none of the players missing due to any injury concern, the septet is expected to be rested on Thursday.
The Arsenal boss though, has cited their commitments in the recent international break as his reason for resting the players completely. Giving the updates on team news during his pre-match press conference, Wenger also went on to say that he is pleased with the overall fitness levels of his first-team squad.
“On the injury front we have no big problems,” the Frenchman said. “A few players have had some response to playing two international games like Ozil and Ramsey, so they are rested completely. But overall the injury situation is not too bad.”
Wenger also shed some light on Francis Coquelin’s injury, saying his compatriot will be sidelined for three weeks. The Frenchman has joined Santi Cazorla on the treatment table. Wenger added, “Yes of course, he is out. As I said in the last press conference he is out for three weeks.”
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) September 14, 2017
Meanwhile, Jack Wilshere is in contention to start his first game of the season, with Wenger pleased with his progress in the training sessions so far. In fact, the Arsenal boss said that he only sees positives from the injury-riddled Englishman, expecting him to be back to his best soon.
“He is very hungry and sharp. He is not completely at his best, but he is getting there every week. He enjoys being back and competing for his place and what I see in training is positive,” he said, before adding, “Yes, if he is injury-free he will come back (to his best).”
Meanwhile, Koln manager Peter Stoger travels with a near full-strength squad to London, with Latvian striker Artjoms Rudnevs the only absentee from his squad due to illness. With the Europa League providing an alternative route into the Champions League, it will be interesting to see how well Arsenal kick off their campaign.