Arsenal: Ospina, Debuchy, Mertesacker, Holding, Chambers, Coquelin, Elneny, Maitland-Niles, Wilshere, Welbeck, Giroud
Subs: Macey, Iwobi, Akpom, Nelson, Nketiah, Sheaf, Willock
Arsenal topped their Europa League group despite surprisingly going down 1-0 to Cologne tonight. As ever there were plenty of changes from Arsene Wenger, with Danny Welbeck and Calum Chambers returning from injury to take a place in the team.
2′ – I quite like our white shorts with this shirt.
The Gunners had the first chance of the game, Maitland-Niles seeing a shot from a tight angle pushed away by the keeper, followed shortly afterwards by a chance for Cordoba whose cross/shot was palmed behind by Ospina.
9′ – heh, Coquelin – what was that?!
Coquelin was next to have a pop, firing a good shot just wide in the 14th minute but his first goal for the club continued to evade him. Arsenal had most of the possession but found it hard to find space behind the deep-lying Cologne defence.
A Maitland-Niles cross from the right saw Wilshere head straight at the keeper, Ospina came out quickly to pick up a through-ball, and again Maitland-Niles created an opportunity but Chambers couldn’t get enough on the volley from the edge of the box.
Coquelin then got even closer to his much-wanted goal, cracking a shot off the post from a tight angle on the half-hour mark.
30′ – Strange things are afoot.
Welbeck cut inside and curled a shot wide of the far post, and there was a blow for the home side when they lost captain Maroh to a hamstring strain ten minutes before half-time.
39′ – Would it be ironic to kill a bat with a bat?
Cologne had a break but made a total mess of it, Horn punched an Elneny free kick to safety, and the Egyptian failed to break the deadlock when he fired over the bar instead of kicking it into the net for an actual goal which would have made a quite boring game indeed a bit less boring.
The teams went in level at the break.
45′ – Surely the second half will be more entertaining than this. Shut up you fool, those are what they call ‘famous last words’.
Arsene Wenger made a half-time change, bringing on Alex Iwobi for Welbeck. Wilshere almost found a way through with a trademark one-two-round-yer-shoe on the edge of the box, before Debuchy picked up a yellow card for a foul on some chap who fell over.
54′ – Coquelin, what the hell was that?!
Iwobi had a shot blocked as Arsenal tried to crank up the pressure, but the crank was not working as well as it should and Guirassy could have put Cologne ahead when it opened up for him in our box but his shot was really tame.
Come the 60th minute though, the home side were awarded a penalty when Guirassy dived under a challenge from Debuchy and the referee pointed to the spot. The Frenchman put it straight down the middle as Ospina dived to his right and the German side were ahead. 1-0.
63′ – This game needs more Eddie.
It was down to Arsenal to respond and Mertesacker forced Horn into a save from an Elneny corner. Wilshere hit the target from outside the box but again the keeper was equal to it, and the England international had another chance, heading over from close range when Chambers crossed from the right.
It was the wing-back’s last involvement as he was replaced by Reiss Nelson in the 67th minute. A positive run from Iwobi almost created a chance for Wilshere but desperate defending got the ball away, and when Giroud beat the offside trap he couldn’t get the ball under control quickly enough and was snuffed out by the defence.
77′ – This game definitely needs a bit more Eddie.
Cologne sat deep, Arsenal tried to tippy-tappy their way around them, and finally the game got some Eddie when the young striker was brought on for Debuchy with seven minutes to go.
The home fans were in good voice, singing songs about things I didn’t understand because they were in German but I imagine topics could include being in front, potentially winning the game, and a lost love from a summer that seems even longer in the past than it actually is.
88′ – At least we can’t have extra time.
Some individual magic from Nelson saw the 17 year old poke a shot at the keeper, and his follow up cross was almost bundled into the net but it drifted agonisingly wide.
The result from the other game came through, a draw meant that regardless of what happened in injury time the Gunners were going to be group winners. Wilshere cracked a shot from distance which the keeper tipped over, and that was the last chance.
A defeat to a team that has only won three times in eighteen games this season, but there you go. Arsenal win the group, and face BATE Borisov in the final fixture.