Bundesliga

Bundesliga slideshow

Struggling Dortmund face must-win Ruhr derby in Bundesliga

Struggling Dortmund face must-win Ruhr derby in Bundesliga

Struggling Dortmund face must-win Ruhr derby in Bundesliga

Struggling Dortmund face must-win Ruhr derby in Bundesliga

Struggling Dortmund face must-win Ruhr derby in Bundesliga

Struggling Dortmund face must-win Ruhr derby in Bundesliga

Struggling Dortmund face must-win Ruhr derby in Bundesliga

Struggling Dortmund face must-win Ruhr derby in Bundesliga

(L-R) Dortmund's Roman Buerki, Mario Goetze, Raphael Guerreiro and Andrey Yarmolenko react after their German first division Bundesliga match against Stuttgart, in Stuttgart, on November 17, 2017

Bayern Munich's Arturo Vidal heads the ball next to Augsburg's Daniel Opare during their German first division Bundesliga match, in Munich, on November 18, 2017

Bayern Munich's Arturo Vidal heads the ball next to Augsburg's Daniel Opare during their German first division Bundesliga match, in Munich, on November 18, 2017

(L-R) Dortmund's Roman Buerki, Mario Goetze, Raphael Guerreiro and Andrey Yarmolenko react after their German first division Bundesliga match against Stuttgart, in Stuttgart, on November 17, 2017

(L-R) Dortmund's Roman Buerki, Mario Goetze, Raphael Guerreiro and Andrey Yarmolenko react after their German first division Bundesliga match against Stuttgart, in Stuttgart, on November 17, 2017

(L-R) Dortmund's Roman Buerki, Mario Goetze, Raphael Guerreiro and Andrey Yarmolenko react after their German first division Bundesliga match against Stuttgart, in Stuttgart, on November 17, 2017 (AFP Photo/THOMAS KIENZLE)

Europa League underdogs Ostersund through to knock-out phase under English coach Graham Potter

Europa League underdogs Ostersund booked their place in the round of 32 for the first time, with Graham Potter's side completing the double over FK Zorya. Potter, the 42-year-old Englishman, has defied the odds to keep the unfancied Swedes unbeaten at home in Group J and they will be in the hat for the knockout phase. They received a helping hand through Dmytro Grechyshkin's own goal, but Saman Ghoddos ensured they did not lean too heavily on that slice of fortune, making it 2-0 with 12 minutes to go. Nice joined Lazio in successfully negotiating Group K, beating Zulte Waregem 3-1. Mario Balotelli scored twice, including a penalty, to continue his good form in the competition, before later efforts from Brian Hamalainen and Adrien Aoutsa cancelled each other out. Cedric Bakambu netted twice as Villarreal qualified with a 3-2 victory at Astana. The Spanish side guaranteed top spot in Group A courtesy of three points which also ended the Kazakh side's 17-game unbeaten run on home soil. Arsenal lost in Cologne but still top Group H after BATE Borisov drew 0-0 at home to Red Star Belgrade. Arsene Wenger's side would have expected to knock off the Bundesliga's bottom side, but the worst defence in Germany's top flight kept a clean sheet and took the points through Sehrou Guirassy's 62nd-minute penalty. Any of the three remaining sides could join the Gunners, with Cologne and Zvedza locked on six points and with an identical, neutral goal difference. Athletic Bilbao remain second in Group J heading into the final round of fixtures after ousting Hertha Berlin from the reckoning with a 3-2 win. Artiz Aduriz bagged a pair of penalties to draw the Spaniards level twice, with Inaki popping up with the winner after 82 minutes. Bryan Linssen and Luis Alberto were on target as Lazio drew 1-1 at home to Vitesse Arnhem. Real Sociedad put the finishing touch to their qualification from Group L, beating Rosenborg 1-0 thanks to Mikel Oyarzabal's last-gasp finish. Zenit St Petersburg, already certain to go through, made it four wins out of five with a 2-1 success over Vardar. Salzburg made it in style, picking off Vitoria Guimaraes 3-0 to top Group I. Munas Dabbur, Andreas Ulmer and Hwang Hee-chan all scored against the Portuguese, who needed to win to keep alive any hopes of their own. Marseille rescued a 1-1 draw at Konyasport, despite going down to 10 men. Jordan Amavi was dismissed with 10 minutes to go, allowing Nejc Skubic to score from the penalty spot, but an own goal from Wilfred Moke earned the French side a point. Lokomotiv Moscow downed FC Copenhagen 2-1 courtesy of a brace from Jefferson Farfan. Viktoria Plzen defeated Steaua Bucharest, who were already through in Group G, with a 2-0 scoreline at the Doosan Arena. After a goalless first half Milan Petrzela put the Czechs ahead in the 49th minute, with Jan Kopic making it safe. Lugano also won, 1-0 over Hapoel Beer-Sheva, with Carlinhos settling the contest along with the Israeli side's hopes of continuing in the competition.

FC Cologne 1 Arsenal 0: Arsene Wenger's dreadful run in Germany continues with unexpected loss

After the champagne sparkle of that stirring victory over Tottenham Hotspur, this was the annoying hangover. Arsenal will go through as winners of Group H, in their first foray into the rebranded Europa League, but this was an unexpected, uninspiring performance which maintains Cologne’s hopes of joining them in the knock-out stage. Sehrou Guirassy’s second-half penalty inflicted a first defeat on Arsenal in Europe this season to ensure another miserable experience for Arsene Wenger on German soil. Wenger has now gone four games without a win in this country. BATE Borisov’s stalemate with Red Star Belgrade rendered this result largely irrelevant, but this was a world away from the thrilling win over Mauricio Pochettino last Saturday. Danny Welbeck played 45 minutes in his first appearance since the 2-1 defeat at Watford in October and looked sharp, while there was another encouraging performance from young winger Ainsley Maitland-Niles. But that was as good as it got, with the scenes of wild celebration at the end belonging to Cologne’s supporters, as they savoured a memorable night and only a second win at the RheinEnergieStadion this season. Danny Welbeck returned for Arsenal Credit: Reuters Wenger said: “You feel like you have done the job if you finish top of the group. I will tell you what it means after the draw, but finishing top is what we wanted. “We have lost a game here with their only shot on goal so that is disappointing. It is not a penalty at all and we missed a little bit in the final third. “We had plenty of dangerous situations but we always missed a little something to finish our chances. The pitch was a little handicap but I cannot fault the preparation or the concentration of the players.” There was a timely return for Welbeck, a striker anxious to make up for lost time, as Wenger made 11 changes to the starting XI that humbled Spurs. Welbeck’s hopes of being included in England’s squad for the World Cup next year are very much under threat after playing only one game in the last two months. Jack Wilshere makes a point to the ref Credit: Getty Images Gareth Southgate has a determination to utilise emerging talent while he also warned that players who do not play consistently for their club sides are in danger of missing out. Welbeck was clearly on a mission to make an impression before he was taken off at half-time as a precaution, ahead of Sunday’s trip to Burnley. “He was ready to stay on and frustrated to come off but he’s in good shape,” said Wenger. “It was planned before the game because we have three games coming up and medically it would have been a risk to play him for longer. He has no problem but he's been out for a while." Arsenal had secured qualification before this trip to western Germany but this was a typically mundane experience in the competition viewed as European football’s wooden spoon. In a lifeless first-half Arsenal came closest to taking the lead from the most unlikely of sources. Francis Coquelin is still waiting patiently for his first goal, nine years after making his debut, and nearly produced a Eureka moment on the half hour when unmarked in the box - but he struck the post from six yards. Sehrou Guirassy scores from the spot Credit: Reuters Cologne are currently the Bundesliga’s bottom club and their game plan was to use pace against an Arsenal back three not renowned for mobility but counter-attacks frequently collapsed, much to the frustration of a boisterous home support. Yet the crucial moment came just after the hour, when Mathieu Debuchy clumsily fouled Guirassy in the area. Guirassy, who had proved a sporadic menace, dispatched the penalty with ease and the noise was deafening, the two towers either side of the stand flashing red and white. Arsenal did respond, with Per Mertesacker and Jack Wilshere both forcing dramatic saves from Cologne goalkeeper Timo Horn. Reiss Nelson, an Arsenal substitute, also tested Horn as time ticked away before Wilshere was denied, again spectacularly, in added time. Yet Cologne secured the victory which sets up an intriguing final game against Red Star next month. 7:55PM Full time, Cologne nab the win Arsenal were the better side on the whole but Cologne did well to nick all three points. For the home side, it's a famous European win against one of the biggest clubs in England. For Arsenal, it's a mildly embarrassing result against the side rock bottom of the Bundesliga, though the North Londoners still top the group after Red Star Belgrade could only muster a draw with BATE Borisov. 7:52PM 90+2 mins Wilshere hits an absolute belter from 20 yards, but Timo Horn makes yet another good save. 7:50PM 89 mins Two great chances for Arsenal! First Reiss Nelson winds his way into the box and sees a close-range rocket saved by Timo Horn. Next, Wilshere crosses for Eddie Nketiah to poke home, but several desperate Cologne defenders throw themselves in the way. 7:48PM 88 mins Sehrou Guirassy gets a yellow card for a late challenge on Per Mertesacker. 7:46PM 84 mins Wilshere makes a jinking run forward and chips a pass towards Olivier Giroud, but it's just slightly overhit and the Frenchman can't get a header on goal. 7:43PM 83 mins Arsenal bring on League Cup hero Eddie Nketiah for Mathieu Debuchy. 7:42PM 82 mins Arsenal are sleepwalking to a loss to the bottom side in the Bundesliga, as things stand. It's a much-changed team but, still, a win for Cologne would be a blow to the pride of the players involved. 7:36PM 75 mins Great chance for Olivier Giroud, who makes a rare off-the-shoulder run and gets in one-on-one. Defender Jannes Horn and goalkeeper Timo Horn combine to keep him out. The former is down and in a bit of pain, having made an excellent last-ditch tackle and been caught on the shin by Giroud. Jannes and Timo Horn combine to stop Olivier Giroud Credit: Martin Meissner/AP 7:33PM 72 mins Cologne use their final substitution to bring off Yuya Osako for midfielder Matthias Lehmann. 7:28PM 67 mins Arsenal make another substitution, with Calum Chambers off for Reiss Nelson. 7:26PM 65 mins Another save for Timo Horn to make, this time a long-range fizzer from the boot of Jack Wilshere. Arsenal are ramping up the pressure but aren't making too many cutting-edge chances right now. 7:24PM 63 mins Chance for Mertesacker! The big German gets a header on target from a corner, but it's pushed out by Timo Horn. Olivier Giroud is inches away from converting on the rebound. Per Mertesacker gets his head to the ball Credit: Martin Meissner/AP 7:23PM GOAL! Cologne 1-0 Arsenal Cologne are ahead against the general run of play. That penalty decision will be a post-match talking point, with the challenge by Debuchy seeming fairly innocuous. 7:22PM 61 mins Penalty Cologne! Mathieu Debuchy tangles with Guirassy and the referee gives it, though it looks like a questionable decision. 7:20PM 59 mins Chance for Cologne, but Sehrou Guirassy doesn't make the most of it. A long ball falls kindly for the French forward, but he only half connects with the shot and David Ospina scoops it up gratefully. 7:17PM 56 mins It's a second substitution for Cologne, who bring off Jhon Cordoba for Pawel Olkowski. Can Cologne keep Arsenal from scoring this evening? Credit: Lukas Schulze/Getty Images 7:16PM 55 mins Iwobi combines with Wilshere and powers to the edge of the Cologne box, but his shot is blocked. 7:12PM 50 mins Maitland-Niles picks up where he left off, winning Arsenal a corner on the left. Elneny's delivery doesn't get past the first man. Not ideal. 7:09PM 48 mins The first yellow card of the match goes to Mathieu Debuchy after a needless foul on Sehrou Guirassy. 7:08PM Substitution for Arsenal Alex Iwobi is on for Danny Welbeck, who Arsene Wenger no doubt wants to protect from a recurrence of his most recent injury. 7:04PM Teams are back out ... for more Europa League football! Hooray! 6:53PM Half time Arsenal started to dominate as the half went on, with Ainsley Maitland-Niles their standout player and Francis Coquelin denied by the post. Cologne have shown very little threat going forwards, with toothlessness up front their main shortcoming as a side. Their defence has been passable, but can they hang on for another 45? Arsenal look to be well on top in Germany Credit: Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images 6:47PM 44 mins Elneny takes a long-distance shot which sails harmlessly into the stands. Let's have half time now, please. 6:45PM 42 mins Jack Wilshere wins a free kick in a promising position 30 yards out. Mohamed Elneny's airy delivery is punched away by Timo Horn. 6:44PM 41 mins Welbeck sets up the excellent Maitland-Niles but the youngster's shot rebounds off a wall of bodies. 6:41PM 37 mins Cologne are forced into a substitution after Olivier Giroud and Dominic Maroh come together in the box, with the latter seeming to pull his hamstring in the process. Maroh limps off and Konstantin Rausch comes on in his place. 6:36PM 31 mins Danny Welbeck is the latest Arsenal player to go close, curling a shot just past the far post from the left side of the area. The home side are walking on thin ice here. 6:33PM 29 mins Arsenal hit the post! Olivier Giroud chips a pass through to the onrushing Francis Coquelin, who blasts a shot off the upright and out for a goal kick. No goal, but it's been an enterprising performance from the defensive midfielder so far. Olivier Giroud is slowly playing his way into the game Credit: Maja Hitij/Getty Images 6:32PM 28 mins Ainsley Maitland-Niles again makes massive inroads on the left, lofting a cross straight to the boot of a teammate in front of goal. Sadly, that teammate is Calum Chambers. Timo Horn collects easily. 6:30PM 27 mins Japanese forward Yuya Osako takes a pot shot at David Ospina from long range, but slips over and sees his effort corkscrew horribly wide. That sums up the last ten minutes or so, really. Osako takes on Francis Coquelin Credit: Marius Becker/DPA 6:24PM 19 mins Arsenal have a shot on target and it's off the head of Jack Wilshere, believe it or not. It's straight at Timo Horn, unfortunately. 6:23PM 18 mins Maitland-Niles threads through Olivier Giroud to the left of the area, but the Frenchman gets his feet tangled and fails to make anything of the pass. Could it be one of those nights for Arsenal's No.12? 6:18PM 13 mins Close from Coquelin! Having failed to clear their lines after some messy passing in and around the box, Cologne gift Coquelin an opportunity to shoot from 25 yards. He goes surprisingly close, but his effort slams against the advertising boards. It would have been a turn up for the books had the Frenchman scored. Francis Coquelin in action Credit: Wolfgang Rattay/Reuters 6:15PM 11 mins Some lovely skill from Maitland-Niles almost sees him play a dangerous pass across the box, but he is muscled off the ball at the final second. 6:13PM 10 mins Things have quietened down a bit after a lively start to the game. Arsenal are seeing more of the ball, but only just. 6:09PM 5 mins First chance for the home side! Cologne striker Jhon Cordoba roars up the pitch and blasts at goal from a tight angle, forcing David Ospina into a full-stretch save. 6:04PM 2 mins Good early chance for Arsenal, with Welbeck and Wilshere combining well to send Ainsley Maitland-Niles away into the box. His angled shot is saved by Timo Horn, who confidently comes to collect the resulting corner. 6:01PM Minute's applause for Hans Schafer Schafer was Cologne's all-time top goalscorer and made 39 appearances for West Germany, winning the 1954 World Cup. He died earlier this month at 90 years of age. 5:59PM Teams are out ... and Cologne flags are fluttering in the stands. There's plenty of noise coming from the away fans, too, though the Arsenal contingent have a lot to live up to. Both sets of fans are in fine voice Credit: Maja Hitij/Getty Images 5:53PM Big night for the home fans Having suffered through a miserable start to the season, Cologne fans will no doubt want to enjoy another big European night against Premier League opposition. Will things be as wild as they were in London a couple of months ago? Maybe not, but the atmosphere is still bound to be mega. 5:42PM Cologne team news #effzeh will begin the match against @Arsenal with three strikers. Bench: Kessler, Olkowski, Risa, Lehmann, Rausch, Nartey, Bisseck #KOEAFC#ReturnoftheGOATpic.twitter.com/xKuEkY3xYD— 1. FC Cologne (@fckoeln_en) November 23, 2017 5:40PM Europa League Thursdays Coming off the back of a brilliant but no doubt exhausting victory in the North London derby last weekend, Arsenal have a very 'Europa League' flavour to their line-up tonight. Arsene Wenger has named an entirely different team for the trip to Cologne, with notable inclusions for Danny Welbeck, Olivier Giroud and Jack Wilshere in attack. An unfamiliar back three of Mathieu Debuchy, Per Mertesacker and Rob Holding should be interesting, with the defence now featuring that perfect blend of age, youth and extreme ponderousness. Calum Chambers at right wing-back should be similarly dubious in terms of pace – presuming Arsenal's pre-match graphic is accurate – though whether or not the Cologne attack will be able to take advantage is another question. Cologne are currently bottom of the Bundesliga with two points from 12 games, while they also sit bottom of Europa League Group H. They have scored four goals in the league all season which, let's face it, isn't great. Despite giving Arsenal a momentary scare with an early goal at the Emirates back in September, it would be a considerable upset if Cologne got anything from tonight's fixture. Wenger might have named a squad with one eye firmly on Arsenal's next game against Burnley, but the North Londoners should still come away with all three points at the RheinEnergieStadion – Calum Chambers at right wing-back or not. Arsene Wenger arrives at the RheinEnergieStadion Credit: Lukas Schulze/Getty Images 5:04PM Evening all Welcome to coverage of Arsenal's Europa League tie against Cologne, a match which sees the return of Danny Welbeck to first team action. Jack Wilshere also gets a chance to work his way back into Arsenal's Premier League plans with another strong performance in midfield. Here's the full Arsenal line-up: �� How we line up for tonight’s clash with @fckoeln... #COLvAFCpic.twitter.com/pz95afRnB5— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) November 23, 2017  

FC Cologne 1 Arsenal 0: Arsene Wenger's dreadful run in Germany continues with unexpected loss

After the champagne sparkle of that stirring victory over Tottenham Hotspur, this was the annoying hangover. Arsenal will go through as winners of Group H, in their first foray into the rebranded Europa League, but this was an unexpected, uninspiring performance which maintains Cologne’s hopes of joining them in the knock-out stage. Sehrou Guirassy’s second-half penalty inflicted a first defeat on Arsenal in Europe this season to ensure another miserable experience for Arsene Wenger on German soil. Wenger has now gone four games without a win in this country. BATE Borisov’s stalemate with Red Star Belgrade rendered this result largely irrelevant, but this was a world away from the thrilling win over Mauricio Pochettino last Saturday. Danny Welbeck played 45 minutes in his first appearance since the 2-1 defeat at Watford in October and looked sharp, while there was another encouraging performance from young winger Ainsley Maitland-Niles. But that was as good as it got, with the scenes of wild celebration at the end belonging to Cologne’s supporters, as they savoured a memorable night and only a second win at the RheinEnergieStadion this season. Danny Welbeck returned for Arsenal Credit: Reuters Wenger said: “You feel like you have done the job if you finish top of the group. I will tell you what it means after the draw, but finishing top is what we wanted. “We have lost a game here with their only shot on goal so that is disappointing. It is not a penalty at all and we missed a little bit in the final third. “We had plenty of dangerous situations but we always missed a little something to finish our chances. The pitch was a little handicap but I cannot fault the preparation or the concentration of the players.” There was a timely return for Welbeck, a striker anxious to make up for lost time, as Wenger made 11 changes to the starting XI that humbled Spurs. Welbeck’s hopes of being included in England’s squad for the World Cup next year are very much under threat after playing only one game in the last two months. Jack Wilshere makes a point to the ref Credit: Getty Images Gareth Southgate has a determination to utilise emerging talent while he also warned that players who do not play consistently for their club sides are in danger of missing out. Welbeck was clearly on a mission to make an impression before he was taken off at half-time as a precaution, ahead of Sunday’s trip to Burnley. “He was ready to stay on and frustrated to come off but he’s in good shape,” said Wenger. “It was planned before the game because we have three games coming up and medically it would have been a risk to play him for longer. He has no problem but he's been out for a while." Arsenal had secured qualification before this trip to western Germany but this was a typically mundane experience in the competition viewed as European football’s wooden spoon. In a lifeless first-half Arsenal came closest to taking the lead from the most unlikely of sources. Francis Coquelin is still waiting patiently for his first goal, nine years after making his debut, and nearly produced a Eureka moment on the half hour when unmarked in the box - but he struck the post from six yards. Sehrou Guirassy scores from the spot Credit: Reuters Cologne are currently the Bundesliga’s bottom club and their game plan was to use pace against an Arsenal back three not renowned for mobility but counter-attacks frequently collapsed, much to the frustration of a boisterous home support. Yet the crucial moment came just after the hour, when Mathieu Debuchy clumsily fouled Guirassy in the area. Guirassy, who had proved a sporadic menace, dispatched the penalty with ease and the noise was deafening, the two towers either side of the stand flashing red and white. Arsenal did respond, with Per Mertesacker and Jack Wilshere both forcing dramatic saves from Cologne goalkeeper Timo Horn. Reiss Nelson, an Arsenal substitute, also tested Horn as time ticked away before Wilshere was denied, again spectacularly, in added time. Yet Cologne secured the victory which sets up an intriguing final game against Red Star next month. 7:55PM Full time, Cologne nab the win Arsenal were the better side on the whole but Cologne did well to nick all three points. For the home side, it's a famous European win against one of the biggest clubs in England. For Arsenal, it's a mildly embarrassing result against the side rock bottom of the Bundesliga, though the North Londoners still top the group after Red Star Belgrade could only muster a draw with BATE Borisov. 7:52PM 90+2 mins Wilshere hits an absolute belter from 20 yards, but Timo Horn makes yet another good save. 7:50PM 89 mins Two great chances for Arsenal! First Reiss Nelson winds his way into the box and sees a close-range rocket saved by Timo Horn. Next, Wilshere crosses for Eddie Nketiah to poke home, but several desperate Cologne defenders throw themselves in the way. 7:48PM 88 mins Sehrou Guirassy gets a yellow card for a late challenge on Per Mertesacker. 7:46PM 84 mins Wilshere makes a jinking run forward and chips a pass towards Olivier Giroud, but it's just slightly overhit and the Frenchman can't get a header on goal. 7:43PM 83 mins Arsenal bring on League Cup hero Eddie Nketiah for Mathieu Debuchy. 7:42PM 82 mins Arsenal are sleepwalking to a loss to the bottom side in the Bundesliga, as things stand. It's a much-changed team but, still, a win for Cologne would be a blow to the pride of the players involved. 7:36PM 75 mins Great chance for Olivier Giroud, who makes a rare off-the-shoulder run and gets in one-on-one. Defender Jannes Horn and goalkeeper Timo Horn combine to keep him out. The former is down and in a bit of pain, having made an excellent last-ditch tackle and been caught on the shin by Giroud. Jannes and Timo Horn combine to stop Olivier Giroud Credit: Martin Meissner/AP 7:33PM 72 mins Cologne use their final substitution to bring off Yuya Osako for midfielder Matthias Lehmann. 7:28PM 67 mins Arsenal make another substitution, with Calum Chambers off for Reiss Nelson. 7:26PM 65 mins Another save for Timo Horn to make, this time a long-range fizzer from the boot of Jack Wilshere. Arsenal are ramping up the pressure but aren't making too many cutting-edge chances right now. 7:24PM 63 mins Chance for Mertesacker! The big German gets a header on target from a corner, but it's pushed out by Timo Horn. Olivier Giroud is inches away from converting on the rebound. Per Mertesacker gets his head to the ball Credit: Martin Meissner/AP 7:23PM GOAL! Cologne 1-0 Arsenal Cologne are ahead against the general run of play. That penalty decision will be a post-match talking point, with the challenge by Debuchy seeming fairly innocuous. 7:22PM 61 mins Penalty Cologne! Mathieu Debuchy tangles with Guirassy and the referee gives it, though it looks like a questionable decision. 7:20PM 59 mins Chance for Cologne, but Sehrou Guirassy doesn't make the most of it. A long ball falls kindly for the French forward, but he only half connects with the shot and David Ospina scoops it up gratefully. 7:17PM 56 mins It's a second substitution for Cologne, who bring off Jhon Cordoba for Pawel Olkowski. Can Cologne keep Arsenal from scoring this evening? Credit: Lukas Schulze/Getty Images 7:16PM 55 mins Iwobi combines with Wilshere and powers to the edge of the Cologne box, but his shot is blocked. 7:12PM 50 mins Maitland-Niles picks up where he left off, winning Arsenal a corner on the left. Elneny's delivery doesn't get past the first man. Not ideal. 7:09PM 48 mins The first yellow card of the match goes to Mathieu Debuchy after a needless foul on Sehrou Guirassy. 7:08PM Substitution for Arsenal Alex Iwobi is on for Danny Welbeck, who Arsene Wenger no doubt wants to protect from a recurrence of his most recent injury. 7:04PM Teams are back out ... for more Europa League football! Hooray! 6:53PM Half time Arsenal started to dominate as the half went on, with Ainsley Maitland-Niles their standout player and Francis Coquelin denied by the post. Cologne have shown very little threat going forwards, with toothlessness up front their main shortcoming as a side. Their defence has been passable, but can they hang on for another 45? Arsenal look to be well on top in Germany Credit: Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images 6:47PM 44 mins Elneny takes a long-distance shot which sails harmlessly into the stands. Let's have half time now, please. 6:45PM 42 mins Jack Wilshere wins a free kick in a promising position 30 yards out. Mohamed Elneny's airy delivery is punched away by Timo Horn. 6:44PM 41 mins Welbeck sets up the excellent Maitland-Niles but the youngster's shot rebounds off a wall of bodies. 6:41PM 37 mins Cologne are forced into a substitution after Olivier Giroud and Dominic Maroh come together in the box, with the latter seeming to pull his hamstring in the process. Maroh limps off and Konstantin Rausch comes on in his place. 6:36PM 31 mins Danny Welbeck is the latest Arsenal player to go close, curling a shot just past the far post from the left side of the area. The home side are walking on thin ice here. 6:33PM 29 mins Arsenal hit the post! Olivier Giroud chips a pass through to the onrushing Francis Coquelin, who blasts a shot off the upright and out for a goal kick. No goal, but it's been an enterprising performance from the defensive midfielder so far. Olivier Giroud is slowly playing his way into the game Credit: Maja Hitij/Getty Images 6:32PM 28 mins Ainsley Maitland-Niles again makes massive inroads on the left, lofting a cross straight to the boot of a teammate in front of goal. Sadly, that teammate is Calum Chambers. Timo Horn collects easily. 6:30PM 27 mins Japanese forward Yuya Osako takes a pot shot at David Ospina from long range, but slips over and sees his effort corkscrew horribly wide. That sums up the last ten minutes or so, really. Osako takes on Francis Coquelin Credit: Marius Becker/DPA 6:24PM 19 mins Arsenal have a shot on target and it's off the head of Jack Wilshere, believe it or not. It's straight at Timo Horn, unfortunately. 6:23PM 18 mins Maitland-Niles threads through Olivier Giroud to the left of the area, but the Frenchman gets his feet tangled and fails to make anything of the pass. Could it be one of those nights for Arsenal's No.12? 6:18PM 13 mins Close from Coquelin! Having failed to clear their lines after some messy passing in and around the box, Cologne gift Coquelin an opportunity to shoot from 25 yards. He goes surprisingly close, but his effort slams against the advertising boards. It would have been a turn up for the books had the Frenchman scored. Francis Coquelin in action Credit: Wolfgang Rattay/Reuters 6:15PM 11 mins Some lovely skill from Maitland-Niles almost sees him play a dangerous pass across the box, but he is muscled off the ball at the final second. 6:13PM 10 mins Things have quietened down a bit after a lively start to the game. Arsenal are seeing more of the ball, but only just. 6:09PM 5 mins First chance for the home side! Cologne striker Jhon Cordoba roars up the pitch and blasts at goal from a tight angle, forcing David Ospina into a full-stretch save. 6:04PM 2 mins Good early chance for Arsenal, with Welbeck and Wilshere combining well to send Ainsley Maitland-Niles away into the box. His angled shot is saved by Timo Horn, who confidently comes to collect the resulting corner. 6:01PM Minute's applause for Hans Schafer Schafer was Cologne's all-time top goalscorer and made 39 appearances for West Germany, winning the 1954 World Cup. He died earlier this month at 90 years of age. 5:59PM Teams are out ... and Cologne flags are fluttering in the stands. There's plenty of noise coming from the away fans, too, though the Arsenal contingent have a lot to live up to. Both sets of fans are in fine voice Credit: Maja Hitij/Getty Images 5:53PM Big night for the home fans Having suffered through a miserable start to the season, Cologne fans will no doubt want to enjoy another big European night against Premier League opposition. Will things be as wild as they were in London a couple of months ago? Maybe not, but the atmosphere is still bound to be mega. 5:42PM Cologne team news #effzeh will begin the match against @Arsenal with three strikers. Bench: Kessler, Olkowski, Risa, Lehmann, Rausch, Nartey, Bisseck #KOEAFC#ReturnoftheGOATpic.twitter.com/xKuEkY3xYD— 1. FC Cologne (@fckoeln_en) November 23, 2017 5:40PM Europa League Thursdays Coming off the back of a brilliant but no doubt exhausting victory in the North London derby last weekend, Arsenal have a very 'Europa League' flavour to their line-up tonight. Arsene Wenger has named an entirely different team for the trip to Cologne, with notable inclusions for Danny Welbeck, Olivier Giroud and Jack Wilshere in attack. An unfamiliar back three of Mathieu Debuchy, Per Mertesacker and Rob Holding should be interesting, with the defence now featuring that perfect blend of age, youth and extreme ponderousness. Calum Chambers at right wing-back should be similarly dubious in terms of pace – presuming Arsenal's pre-match graphic is accurate – though whether or not the Cologne attack will be able to take advantage is another question. Cologne are currently bottom of the Bundesliga with two points from 12 games, while they also sit bottom of Europa League Group H. They have scored four goals in the league all season which, let's face it, isn't great. Despite giving Arsenal a momentary scare with an early goal at the Emirates back in September, it would be a considerable upset if Cologne got anything from tonight's fixture. Wenger might have named a squad with one eye firmly on Arsenal's next game against Burnley, but the North Londoners should still come away with all three points at the RheinEnergieStadion – Calum Chambers at right wing-back or not. Arsene Wenger arrives at the RheinEnergieStadion Credit: Lukas Schulze/Getty Images 5:04PM Evening all Welcome to coverage of Arsenal's Europa League tie against Cologne, a match which sees the return of Danny Welbeck to first team action. Jack Wilshere also gets a chance to work his way back into Arsenal's Premier League plans with another strong performance in midfield. Here's the full Arsenal line-up: �� How we line up for tonight’s clash with @fckoeln... #COLvAFCpic.twitter.com/pz95afRnB5— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) November 23, 2017  

FC Cologne 1 Arsenal 0: Arsene Wenger's dreadful run in Germany continues with unexpected loss

After the champagne sparkle of that stirring victory over Tottenham Hotspur, this was the annoying hangover. Arsenal will go through as winners of Group H, in their first foray into the rebranded Europa League, but this was an unexpected, uninspiring performance which maintains Cologne’s hopes of joining them in the knock-out stage. Sehrou Guirassy’s second-half penalty inflicted a first defeat on Arsenal in Europe this season to ensure another miserable experience for Arsene Wenger on German soil. Wenger has now gone four games without a win in this country. BATE Borisov’s stalemate with Red Star Belgrade rendered this result largely irrelevant, but this was a world away from the thrilling win over Mauricio Pochettino last Saturday. Danny Welbeck played 45 minutes in his first appearance since the 2-1 defeat at Watford in October and looked sharp, while there was another encouraging performance from young winger Ainsley Maitland-Niles. But that was as good as it got, with the scenes of wild celebration at the end belonging to Cologne’s supporters, as they savoured a memorable night and only a second win at the RheinEnergieStadion this season. Danny Welbeck returned for Arsenal Credit: Reuters Wenger said: “You feel like you have done the job if you finish top of the group. I will tell you what it means after the draw, but finishing top is what we wanted. “We have lost a game here with their only shot on goal so that is disappointing. It is not a penalty at all and we missed a little bit in the final third. “We had plenty of dangerous situations but we always missed a little something to finish our chances. The pitch was a little handicap but I cannot fault the preparation or the concentration of the players.” There was a timely return for Welbeck, a striker anxious to make up for lost time, as Wenger made 11 changes to the starting XI that humbled Spurs. Welbeck’s hopes of being included in England’s squad for the World Cup next year are very much under threat after playing only one game in the last two months. Jack Wilshere makes a point to the ref Credit: Getty Images Gareth Southgate has a determination to utilise emerging talent while he also warned that players who do not play consistently for their club sides are in danger of missing out. Welbeck was clearly on a mission to make an impression before he was taken off at half-time as a precaution, ahead of Sunday’s trip to Burnley. “He was ready to stay on and frustrated to come off but he’s in good shape,” said Wenger. “It was planned before the game because we have three games coming up and medically it would have been a risk to play him for longer. He has no problem but he's been out for a while." Arsenal had secured qualification before this trip to western Germany but this was a typically mundane experience in the competition viewed as European football’s wooden spoon. In a lifeless first-half Arsenal came closest to taking the lead from the most unlikely of sources. Francis Coquelin is still waiting patiently for his first goal, nine years after making his debut, and nearly produced a Eureka moment on the half hour when unmarked in the box - but he struck the post from six yards. Sehrou Guirassy scores from the spot Credit: Reuters Cologne are currently the Bundesliga’s bottom club and their game plan was to use pace against an Arsenal back three not renowned for mobility but counter-attacks frequently collapsed, much to the frustration of a boisterous home support. Yet the crucial moment came just after the hour, when Mathieu Debuchy clumsily fouled Guirassy in the area. Guirassy, who had proved a sporadic menace, dispatched the penalty with ease and the noise was deafening, the two towers either side of the stand flashing red and white. Arsenal did respond, with Per Mertesacker and Jack Wilshere both forcing dramatic saves from Cologne goalkeeper Timo Horn. Reiss Nelson, an Arsenal substitute, also tested Horn as time ticked away before Wilshere was denied, again spectacularly, in added time. Yet Cologne secured the victory which sets up an intriguing final game against Red Star next month. 7:55PM Full time, Cologne nab the win Arsenal were the better side on the whole but Cologne did well to nick all three points. For the home side, it's a famous European win against one of the biggest clubs in England. For Arsenal, it's a mildly embarrassing result against the side rock bottom of the Bundesliga, though the North Londoners still top the group after Red Star Belgrade could only muster a draw with BATE Borisov. 7:52PM 90+2 mins Wilshere hits an absolute belter from 20 yards, but Timo Horn makes yet another good save. 7:50PM 89 mins Two great chances for Arsenal! First Reiss Nelson winds his way into the box and sees a close-range rocket saved by Timo Horn. Next, Wilshere crosses for Eddie Nketiah to poke home, but several desperate Cologne defenders throw themselves in the way. 7:48PM 88 mins Sehrou Guirassy gets a yellow card for a late challenge on Per Mertesacker. 7:46PM 84 mins Wilshere makes a jinking run forward and chips a pass towards Olivier Giroud, but it's just slightly overhit and the Frenchman can't get a header on goal. 7:43PM 83 mins Arsenal bring on League Cup hero Eddie Nketiah for Mathieu Debuchy. 7:42PM 82 mins Arsenal are sleepwalking to a loss to the bottom side in the Bundesliga, as things stand. It's a much-changed team but, still, a win for Cologne would be a blow to the pride of the players involved. 7:36PM 75 mins Great chance for Olivier Giroud, who makes a rare off-the-shoulder run and gets in one-on-one. Defender Jannes Horn and goalkeeper Timo Horn combine to keep him out. The former is down and in a bit of pain, having made an excellent last-ditch tackle and been caught on the shin by Giroud. Jannes and Timo Horn combine to stop Olivier Giroud Credit: Martin Meissner/AP 7:33PM 72 mins Cologne use their final substitution to bring off Yuya Osako for midfielder Matthias Lehmann. 7:28PM 67 mins Arsenal make another substitution, with Calum Chambers off for Reiss Nelson. 7:26PM 65 mins Another save for Timo Horn to make, this time a long-range fizzer from the boot of Jack Wilshere. Arsenal are ramping up the pressure but aren't making too many cutting-edge chances right now. 7:24PM 63 mins Chance for Mertesacker! The big German gets a header on target from a corner, but it's pushed out by Timo Horn. Olivier Giroud is inches away from converting on the rebound. Per Mertesacker gets his head to the ball Credit: Martin Meissner/AP 7:23PM GOAL! Cologne 1-0 Arsenal Cologne are ahead against the general run of play. That penalty decision will be a post-match talking point, with the challenge by Debuchy seeming fairly innocuous. 7:22PM 61 mins Penalty Cologne! Mathieu Debuchy tangles with Guirassy and the referee gives it, though it looks like a questionable decision. 7:20PM 59 mins Chance for Cologne, but Sehrou Guirassy doesn't make the most of it. A long ball falls kindly for the French forward, but he only half connects with the shot and David Ospina scoops it up gratefully. 7:17PM 56 mins It's a second substitution for Cologne, who bring off Jhon Cordoba for Pawel Olkowski. Can Cologne keep Arsenal from scoring this evening? Credit: Lukas Schulze/Getty Images 7:16PM 55 mins Iwobi combines with Wilshere and powers to the edge of the Cologne box, but his shot is blocked. 7:12PM 50 mins Maitland-Niles picks up where he left off, winning Arsenal a corner on the left. Elneny's delivery doesn't get past the first man. Not ideal. 7:09PM 48 mins The first yellow card of the match goes to Mathieu Debuchy after a needless foul on Sehrou Guirassy. 7:08PM Substitution for Arsenal Alex Iwobi is on for Danny Welbeck, who Arsene Wenger no doubt wants to protect from a recurrence of his most recent injury. 7:04PM Teams are back out ... for more Europa League football! Hooray! 6:53PM Half time Arsenal started to dominate as the half went on, with Ainsley Maitland-Niles their standout player and Francis Coquelin denied by the post. Cologne have shown very little threat going forwards, with toothlessness up front their main shortcoming as a side. Their defence has been passable, but can they hang on for another 45? Arsenal look to be well on top in Germany Credit: Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images 6:47PM 44 mins Elneny takes a long-distance shot which sails harmlessly into the stands. Let's have half time now, please. 6:45PM 42 mins Jack Wilshere wins a free kick in a promising position 30 yards out. Mohamed Elneny's airy delivery is punched away by Timo Horn. 6:44PM 41 mins Welbeck sets up the excellent Maitland-Niles but the youngster's shot rebounds off a wall of bodies. 6:41PM 37 mins Cologne are forced into a substitution after Olivier Giroud and Dominic Maroh come together in the box, with the latter seeming to pull his hamstring in the process. Maroh limps off and Konstantin Rausch comes on in his place. 6:36PM 31 mins Danny Welbeck is the latest Arsenal player to go close, curling a shot just past the far post from the left side of the area. The home side are walking on thin ice here. 6:33PM 29 mins Arsenal hit the post! Olivier Giroud chips a pass through to the onrushing Francis Coquelin, who blasts a shot off the upright and out for a goal kick. No goal, but it's been an enterprising performance from the defensive midfielder so far. Olivier Giroud is slowly playing his way into the game Credit: Maja Hitij/Getty Images 6:32PM 28 mins Ainsley Maitland-Niles again makes massive inroads on the left, lofting a cross straight to the boot of a teammate in front of goal. Sadly, that teammate is Calum Chambers. Timo Horn collects easily. 6:30PM 27 mins Japanese forward Yuya Osako takes a pot shot at David Ospina from long range, but slips over and sees his effort corkscrew horribly wide. That sums up the last ten minutes or so, really. Osako takes on Francis Coquelin Credit: Marius Becker/DPA 6:24PM 19 mins Arsenal have a shot on target and it's off the head of Jack Wilshere, believe it or not. It's straight at Timo Horn, unfortunately. 6:23PM 18 mins Maitland-Niles threads through Olivier Giroud to the left of the area, but the Frenchman gets his feet tangled and fails to make anything of the pass. Could it be one of those nights for Arsenal's No.12? 6:18PM 13 mins Close from Coquelin! Having failed to clear their lines after some messy passing in and around the box, Cologne gift Coquelin an opportunity to shoot from 25 yards. He goes surprisingly close, but his effort slams against the advertising boards. It would have been a turn up for the books had the Frenchman scored. Francis Coquelin in action Credit: Wolfgang Rattay/Reuters 6:15PM 11 mins Some lovely skill from Maitland-Niles almost sees him play a dangerous pass across the box, but he is muscled off the ball at the final second. 6:13PM 10 mins Things have quietened down a bit after a lively start to the game. Arsenal are seeing more of the ball, but only just. 6:09PM 5 mins First chance for the home side! Cologne striker Jhon Cordoba roars up the pitch and blasts at goal from a tight angle, forcing David Ospina into a full-stretch save. 6:04PM 2 mins Good early chance for Arsenal, with Welbeck and Wilshere combining well to send Ainsley Maitland-Niles away into the box. His angled shot is saved by Timo Horn, who confidently comes to collect the resulting corner. 6:01PM Minute's applause for Hans Schafer Schafer was Cologne's all-time top goalscorer and made 39 appearances for West Germany, winning the 1954 World Cup. He died earlier this month at 90 years of age. 5:59PM Teams are out ... and Cologne flags are fluttering in the stands. There's plenty of noise coming from the away fans, too, though the Arsenal contingent have a lot to live up to. Both sets of fans are in fine voice Credit: Maja Hitij/Getty Images 5:53PM Big night for the home fans Having suffered through a miserable start to the season, Cologne fans will no doubt want to enjoy another big European night against Premier League opposition. Will things be as wild as they were in London a couple of months ago? Maybe not, but the atmosphere is still bound to be mega. 5:42PM Cologne team news #effzeh will begin the match against @Arsenal with three strikers. Bench: Kessler, Olkowski, Risa, Lehmann, Rausch, Nartey, Bisseck #KOEAFC#ReturnoftheGOATpic.twitter.com/xKuEkY3xYD— 1. FC Cologne (@fckoeln_en) November 23, 2017 5:40PM Europa League Thursdays Coming off the back of a brilliant but no doubt exhausting victory in the North London derby last weekend, Arsenal have a very 'Europa League' flavour to their line-up tonight. Arsene Wenger has named an entirely different team for the trip to Cologne, with notable inclusions for Danny Welbeck, Olivier Giroud and Jack Wilshere in attack. An unfamiliar back three of Mathieu Debuchy, Per Mertesacker and Rob Holding should be interesting, with the defence now featuring that perfect blend of age, youth and extreme ponderousness. Calum Chambers at right wing-back should be similarly dubious in terms of pace – presuming Arsenal's pre-match graphic is accurate – though whether or not the Cologne attack will be able to take advantage is another question. Cologne are currently bottom of the Bundesliga with two points from 12 games, while they also sit bottom of Europa League Group H. They have scored four goals in the league all season which, let's face it, isn't great. Despite giving Arsenal a momentary scare with an early goal at the Emirates back in September, it would be a considerable upset if Cologne got anything from tonight's fixture. Wenger might have named a squad with one eye firmly on Arsenal's next game against Burnley, but the North Londoners should still come away with all three points at the RheinEnergieStadion – Calum Chambers at right wing-back or not. Arsene Wenger arrives at the RheinEnergieStadion Credit: Lukas Schulze/Getty Images 5:04PM Evening all Welcome to coverage of Arsenal's Europa League tie against Cologne, a match which sees the return of Danny Welbeck to first team action. Jack Wilshere also gets a chance to work his way back into Arsenal's Premier League plans with another strong performance in midfield. Here's the full Arsenal line-up: �� How we line up for tonight’s clash with @fckoeln... #COLvAFCpic.twitter.com/pz95afRnB5— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) November 23, 2017  

FC Cologne 1 Arsenal 0: Arsene Wenger's dreadful run in Germany continues with unexpected loss

After the champagne sparkle of that stirring victory over Tottenham Hotspur, this was the annoying hangover. Arsenal will go through as winners of Group H, in their first foray into the rebranded Europa League, but this was an unexpected, uninspiring performance which maintains Cologne’s hopes of joining them in the knock-out stage. Sehrou Guirassy’s second-half penalty inflicted a first defeat on Arsenal in Europe this season to ensure another miserable experience for Arsene Wenger on German soil. Wenger has now gone four games without a win in this country. BATE Borisov’s stalemate with Red Star Belgrade rendered this result largely irrelevant, but this was a world away from the thrilling win over Mauricio Pochettino last Saturday. Danny Welbeck played 45 minutes in his first appearance since the 2-1 defeat at Watford in October and looked sharp, while there was another encouraging performance from young winger Ainsley Maitland-Niles. But that was as good as it got, with the scenes of wild celebration at the end belonging to Cologne’s supporters, as they savoured a memorable night and only a second win at the RheinEnergieStadion this season. Danny Welbeck returned for Arsenal Credit: Reuters Wenger said: “You feel like you have done the job if you finish top of the group. I will tell you what it means after the draw, but finishing top is what we wanted. “We have lost a game here with their only shot on goal so that is disappointing. It is not a penalty at all and we missed a little bit in the final third. “We had plenty of dangerous situations but we always missed a little something to finish our chances. The pitch was a little handicap but I cannot fault the preparation or the concentration of the players.” There was a timely return for Welbeck, a striker anxious to make up for lost time, as Wenger made 11 changes to the starting XI that humbled Spurs. Welbeck’s hopes of being included in England’s squad for the World Cup next year are very much under threat after playing only one game in the last two months. Jack Wilshere makes a point to the ref Credit: Getty Images Gareth Southgate has a determination to utilise emerging talent while he also warned that players who do not play consistently for their club sides are in danger of missing out. Welbeck was clearly on a mission to make an impression before he was taken off at half-time as a precaution, ahead of Sunday’s trip to Burnley. “He was ready to stay on and frustrated to come off but he’s in good shape,” said Wenger. “It was planned before the game because we have three games coming up and medically it would have been a risk to play him for longer. He has no problem but he's been out for a while." Arsenal had secured qualification before this trip to western Germany but this was a typically mundane experience in the competition viewed as European football’s wooden spoon. In a lifeless first-half Arsenal came closest to taking the lead from the most unlikely of sources. Francis Coquelin is still waiting patiently for his first goal, nine years after making his debut, and nearly produced a Eureka moment on the half hour when unmarked in the box - but he struck the post from six yards. Sehrou Guirassy scores from the spot Credit: Reuters Cologne are currently the Bundesliga’s bottom club and their game plan was to use pace against an Arsenal back three not renowned for mobility but counter-attacks frequently collapsed, much to the frustration of a boisterous home support. Yet the crucial moment came just after the hour, when Mathieu Debuchy clumsily fouled Guirassy in the area. Guirassy, who had proved a sporadic menace, dispatched the penalty with ease and the noise was deafening, the two towers either side of the stand flashing red and white. Arsenal did respond, with Per Mertesacker and Jack Wilshere both forcing dramatic saves from Cologne goalkeeper Timo Horn. Reiss Nelson, an Arsenal substitute, also tested Horn as time ticked away before Wilshere was denied, again spectacularly, in added time. Yet Cologne secured the victory which sets up an intriguing final game against Red Star next month. 7:55PM Full time, Cologne nab the win Arsenal were the better side on the whole but Cologne did well to nick all three points. For the home side, it's a famous European win against one of the biggest clubs in England. For Arsenal, it's a mildly embarrassing result against the side rock bottom of the Bundesliga, though the North Londoners still top the group after Red Star Belgrade could only muster a draw with BATE Borisov. 7:52PM 90+2 mins Wilshere hits an absolute belter from 20 yards, but Timo Horn makes yet another good save. 7:50PM 89 mins Two great chances for Arsenal! First Reiss Nelson winds his way into the box and sees a close-range rocket saved by Timo Horn. Next, Wilshere crosses for Eddie Nketiah to poke home, but several desperate Cologne defenders throw themselves in the way. 7:48PM 88 mins Sehrou Guirassy gets a yellow card for a late challenge on Per Mertesacker. 7:46PM 84 mins Wilshere makes a jinking run forward and chips a pass towards Olivier Giroud, but it's just slightly overhit and the Frenchman can't get a header on goal. 7:43PM 83 mins Arsenal bring on League Cup hero Eddie Nketiah for Mathieu Debuchy. 7:42PM 82 mins Arsenal are sleepwalking to a loss to the bottom side in the Bundesliga, as things stand. It's a much-changed team but, still, a win for Cologne would be a blow to the pride of the players involved. 7:36PM 75 mins Great chance for Olivier Giroud, who makes a rare off-the-shoulder run and gets in one-on-one. Defender Jannes Horn and goalkeeper Timo Horn combine to keep him out. The former is down and in a bit of pain, having made an excellent last-ditch tackle and been caught on the shin by Giroud. Jannes and Timo Horn combine to stop Olivier Giroud Credit: Martin Meissner/AP 7:33PM 72 mins Cologne use their final substitution to bring off Yuya Osako for midfielder Matthias Lehmann. 7:28PM 67 mins Arsenal make another substitution, with Calum Chambers off for Reiss Nelson. 7:26PM 65 mins Another save for Timo Horn to make, this time a long-range fizzer from the boot of Jack Wilshere. Arsenal are ramping up the pressure but aren't making too many cutting-edge chances right now. 7:24PM 63 mins Chance for Mertesacker! The big German gets a header on target from a corner, but it's pushed out by Timo Horn. Olivier Giroud is inches away from converting on the rebound. Per Mertesacker gets his head to the ball Credit: Martin Meissner/AP 7:23PM GOAL! Cologne 1-0 Arsenal Cologne are ahead against the general run of play. That penalty decision will be a post-match talking point, with the challenge by Debuchy seeming fairly innocuous. 7:22PM 61 mins Penalty Cologne! Mathieu Debuchy tangles with Guirassy and the referee gives it, though it looks like a questionable decision. 7:20PM 59 mins Chance for Cologne, but Sehrou Guirassy doesn't make the most of it. A long ball falls kindly for the French forward, but he only half connects with the shot and David Ospina scoops it up gratefully. 7:17PM 56 mins It's a second substitution for Cologne, who bring off Jhon Cordoba for Pawel Olkowski. Can Cologne keep Arsenal from scoring this evening? Credit: Lukas Schulze/Getty Images 7:16PM 55 mins Iwobi combines with Wilshere and powers to the edge of the Cologne box, but his shot is blocked. 7:12PM 50 mins Maitland-Niles picks up where he left off, winning Arsenal a corner on the left. Elneny's delivery doesn't get past the first man. Not ideal. 7:09PM 48 mins The first yellow card of the match goes to Mathieu Debuchy after a needless foul on Sehrou Guirassy. 7:08PM Substitution for Arsenal Alex Iwobi is on for Danny Welbeck, who Arsene Wenger no doubt wants to protect from a recurrence of his most recent injury. 7:04PM Teams are back out ... for more Europa League football! Hooray! 6:53PM Half time Arsenal started to dominate as the half went on, with Ainsley Maitland-Niles their standout player and Francis Coquelin denied by the post. Cologne have shown very little threat going forwards, with toothlessness up front their main shortcoming as a side. Their defence has been passable, but can they hang on for another 45? Arsenal look to be well on top in Germany Credit: Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images 6:47PM 44 mins Elneny takes a long-distance shot which sails harmlessly into the stands. Let's have half time now, please. 6:45PM 42 mins Jack Wilshere wins a free kick in a promising position 30 yards out. Mohamed Elneny's airy delivery is punched away by Timo Horn. 6:44PM 41 mins Welbeck sets up the excellent Maitland-Niles but the youngster's shot rebounds off a wall of bodies. 6:41PM 37 mins Cologne are forced into a substitution after Olivier Giroud and Dominic Maroh come together in the box, with the latter seeming to pull his hamstring in the process. Maroh limps off and Konstantin Rausch comes on in his place. 6:36PM 31 mins Danny Welbeck is the latest Arsenal player to go close, curling a shot just past the far post from the left side of the area. The home side are walking on thin ice here. 6:33PM 29 mins Arsenal hit the post! Olivier Giroud chips a pass through to the onrushing Francis Coquelin, who blasts a shot off the upright and out for a goal kick. No goal, but it's been an enterprising performance from the defensive midfielder so far. Olivier Giroud is slowly playing his way into the game Credit: Maja Hitij/Getty Images 6:32PM 28 mins Ainsley Maitland-Niles again makes massive inroads on the left, lofting a cross straight to the boot of a teammate in front of goal. Sadly, that teammate is Calum Chambers. Timo Horn collects easily. 6:30PM 27 mins Japanese forward Yuya Osako takes a pot shot at David Ospina from long range, but slips over and sees his effort corkscrew horribly wide. That sums up the last ten minutes or so, really. Osako takes on Francis Coquelin Credit: Marius Becker/DPA 6:24PM 19 mins Arsenal have a shot on target and it's off the head of Jack Wilshere, believe it or not. It's straight at Timo Horn, unfortunately. 6:23PM 18 mins Maitland-Niles threads through Olivier Giroud to the left of the area, but the Frenchman gets his feet tangled and fails to make anything of the pass. Could it be one of those nights for Arsenal's No.12? 6:18PM 13 mins Close from Coquelin! Having failed to clear their lines after some messy passing in and around the box, Cologne gift Coquelin an opportunity to shoot from 25 yards. He goes surprisingly close, but his effort slams against the advertising boards. It would have been a turn up for the books had the Frenchman scored. Francis Coquelin in action Credit: Wolfgang Rattay/Reuters 6:15PM 11 mins Some lovely skill from Maitland-Niles almost sees him play a dangerous pass across the box, but he is muscled off the ball at the final second. 6:13PM 10 mins Things have quietened down a bit after a lively start to the game. Arsenal are seeing more of the ball, but only just. 6:09PM 5 mins First chance for the home side! Cologne striker Jhon Cordoba roars up the pitch and blasts at goal from a tight angle, forcing David Ospina into a full-stretch save. 6:04PM 2 mins Good early chance for Arsenal, with Welbeck and Wilshere combining well to send Ainsley Maitland-Niles away into the box. His angled shot is saved by Timo Horn, who confidently comes to collect the resulting corner. 6:01PM Minute's applause for Hans Schafer Schafer was Cologne's all-time top goalscorer and made 39 appearances for West Germany, winning the 1954 World Cup. He died earlier this month at 90 years of age. 5:59PM Teams are out ... and Cologne flags are fluttering in the stands. There's plenty of noise coming from the away fans, too, though the Arsenal contingent have a lot to live up to. Both sets of fans are in fine voice Credit: Maja Hitij/Getty Images 5:53PM Big night for the home fans Having suffered through a miserable start to the season, Cologne fans will no doubt want to enjoy another big European night against Premier League opposition. Will things be as wild as they were in London a couple of months ago? Maybe not, but the atmosphere is still bound to be mega. 5:42PM Cologne team news #effzeh will begin the match against @Arsenal with three strikers. Bench: Kessler, Olkowski, Risa, Lehmann, Rausch, Nartey, Bisseck #KOEAFC#ReturnoftheGOATpic.twitter.com/xKuEkY3xYD— 1. FC Cologne (@fckoeln_en) November 23, 2017 5:40PM Europa League Thursdays Coming off the back of a brilliant but no doubt exhausting victory in the North London derby last weekend, Arsenal have a very 'Europa League' flavour to their line-up tonight. Arsene Wenger has named an entirely different team for the trip to Cologne, with notable inclusions for Danny Welbeck, Olivier Giroud and Jack Wilshere in attack. An unfamiliar back three of Mathieu Debuchy, Per Mertesacker and Rob Holding should be interesting, with the defence now featuring that perfect blend of age, youth and extreme ponderousness. Calum Chambers at right wing-back should be similarly dubious in terms of pace – presuming Arsenal's pre-match graphic is accurate – though whether or not the Cologne attack will be able to take advantage is another question. Cologne are currently bottom of the Bundesliga with two points from 12 games, while they also sit bottom of Europa League Group H. They have scored four goals in the league all season which, let's face it, isn't great. Despite giving Arsenal a momentary scare with an early goal at the Emirates back in September, it would be a considerable upset if Cologne got anything from tonight's fixture. Wenger might have named a squad with one eye firmly on Arsenal's next game against Burnley, but the North Londoners should still come away with all three points at the RheinEnergieStadion – Calum Chambers at right wing-back or not. Arsene Wenger arrives at the RheinEnergieStadion Credit: Lukas Schulze/Getty Images 5:04PM Evening all Welcome to coverage of Arsenal's Europa League tie against Cologne, a match which sees the return of Danny Welbeck to first team action. Jack Wilshere also gets a chance to work his way back into Arsenal's Premier League plans with another strong performance in midfield. Here's the full Arsenal line-up: �� How we line up for tonight’s clash with @fckoeln... #COLvAFCpic.twitter.com/pz95afRnB5— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) November 23, 2017  

FC Cologne 1 Arsenal 0: Arsene Wenger's dreadful run in Germany continues with unexpected loss

After the champagne sparkle of that stirring victory over Tottenham Hotspur, this was the annoying hangover. Arsenal will go through as winners of Group H, in their first foray into the rebranded Europa League, but this was an unexpected, uninspiring performance which maintains Cologne’s hopes of joining them in the knock-out stage. Sehrou Guirassy’s second-half penalty inflicted a first defeat on Arsenal in Europe this season to ensure another miserable experience for Arsene Wenger on German soil. Wenger has now gone four games without a win in this country. BATE Borisov’s stalemate with Red Star Belgrade rendered this result largely irrelevant, but this was a world away from the thrilling win over Mauricio Pochettino last Saturday. Danny Welbeck played 45 minutes in his first appearance since the 2-1 defeat at Watford in October and looked sharp, while there was another encouraging performance from young winger Ainsley Maitland-Niles. But that was as good as it got, with the scenes of wild celebration at the end belonging to Cologne’s supporters, as they savoured a memorable night and only a second win at the RheinEnergieStadion this season. Danny Welbeck returned for Arsenal Credit: Reuters Wenger said: “You feel like you have done the job if you finish top of the group. I will tell you what it means after the draw, but finishing top is what we wanted. “We have lost a game here with their only shot on goal so that is disappointing. It is not a penalty at all and we missed a little bit in the final third. “We had plenty of dangerous situations but we always missed a little something to finish our chances. The pitch was a little handicap but I cannot fault the preparation or the concentration of the players.” There was a timely return for Welbeck, a striker anxious to make up for lost time, as Wenger made 11 changes to the starting XI that humbled Spurs. Welbeck’s hopes of being included in England’s squad for the World Cup next year are very much under threat after playing only one game in the last two months. Jack Wilshere makes a point to the ref Credit: Getty Images Gareth Southgate has a determination to utilise emerging talent while he also warned that players who do not play consistently for their club sides are in danger of missing out. Welbeck was clearly on a mission to make an impression before he was taken off at half-time as a precaution, ahead of Sunday’s trip to Burnley. “He was ready to stay on and frustrated to come off but he’s in good shape,” said Wenger. “It was planned before the game because we have three games coming up and medically it would have been a risk to play him for longer. He has no problem but he's been out for a while." Arsenal had secured qualification before this trip to western Germany but this was a typically mundane experience in the competition viewed as European football’s wooden spoon. In a lifeless first-half Arsenal came closest to taking the lead from the most unlikely of sources. Francis Coquelin is still waiting patiently for his first goal, nine years after making his debut, and nearly produced a Eureka moment on the half hour when unmarked in the box - but he struck the post from six yards. Sehrou Guirassy scores from the spot Credit: Reuters Cologne are currently the Bundesliga’s bottom club and their game plan was to use pace against an Arsenal back three not renowned for mobility but counter-attacks frequently collapsed, much to the frustration of a boisterous home support. Yet the crucial moment came just after the hour, when Mathieu Debuchy clumsily fouled Guirassy in the area. Guirassy, who had proved a sporadic menace, dispatched the penalty with ease and the noise was deafening, the two towers either side of the stand flashing red and white. Arsenal did respond, with Per Mertesacker and Jack Wilshere both forcing dramatic saves from Cologne goalkeeper Timo Horn. Reiss Nelson, an Arsenal substitute, also tested Horn as time ticked away before Wilshere was denied, again spectacularly, in added time. Yet Cologne secured the victory which sets up an intriguing final game against Red Star next month. 7:55PM Full time, Cologne nab the win Arsenal were the better side on the whole but Cologne did well to nick all three points. For the home side, it's a famous European win against one of the biggest clubs in England. For Arsenal, it's a mildly embarrassing result against the side rock bottom of the Bundesliga, though the North Londoners still top the group after Red Star Belgrade could only muster a draw with BATE Borisov. 7:52PM 90+2 mins Wilshere hits an absolute belter from 20 yards, but Timo Horn makes yet another good save. 7:50PM 89 mins Two great chances for Arsenal! First Reiss Nelson winds his way into the box and sees a close-range rocket saved by Timo Horn. Next, Wilshere crosses for Eddie Nketiah to poke home, but several desperate Cologne defenders throw themselves in the way. 7:48PM 88 mins Sehrou Guirassy gets a yellow card for a late challenge on Per Mertesacker. 7:46PM 84 mins Wilshere makes a jinking run forward and chips a pass towards Olivier Giroud, but it's just slightly overhit and the Frenchman can't get a header on goal. 7:43PM 83 mins Arsenal bring on League Cup hero Eddie Nketiah for Mathieu Debuchy. 7:42PM 82 mins Arsenal are sleepwalking to a loss to the bottom side in the Bundesliga, as things stand. It's a much-changed team but, still, a win for Cologne would be a blow to the pride of the players involved. 7:36PM 75 mins Great chance for Olivier Giroud, who makes a rare off-the-shoulder run and gets in one-on-one. Defender Jannes Horn and goalkeeper Timo Horn combine to keep him out. The former is down and in a bit of pain, having made an excellent last-ditch tackle and been caught on the shin by Giroud. Jannes and Timo Horn combine to stop Olivier Giroud Credit: Martin Meissner/AP 7:33PM 72 mins Cologne use their final substitution to bring off Yuya Osako for midfielder Matthias Lehmann. 7:28PM 67 mins Arsenal make another substitution, with Calum Chambers off for Reiss Nelson. 7:26PM 65 mins Another save for Timo Horn to make, this time a long-range fizzer from the boot of Jack Wilshere. Arsenal are ramping up the pressure but aren't making too many cutting-edge chances right now. 7:24PM 63 mins Chance for Mertesacker! The big German gets a header on target from a corner, but it's pushed out by Timo Horn. Olivier Giroud is inches away from converting on the rebound. Per Mertesacker gets his head to the ball Credit: Martin Meissner/AP 7:23PM GOAL! Cologne 1-0 Arsenal Cologne are ahead against the general run of play. That penalty decision will be a post-match talking point, with the challenge by Debuchy seeming fairly innocuous. 7:22PM 61 mins Penalty Cologne! Mathieu Debuchy tangles with Guirassy and the referee gives it, though it looks like a questionable decision. 7:20PM 59 mins Chance for Cologne, but Sehrou Guirassy doesn't make the most of it. A long ball falls kindly for the French forward, but he only half connects with the shot and David Ospina scoops it up gratefully. 7:17PM 56 mins It's a second substitution for Cologne, who bring off Jhon Cordoba for Pawel Olkowski. Can Cologne keep Arsenal from scoring this evening? Credit: Lukas Schulze/Getty Images 7:16PM 55 mins Iwobi combines with Wilshere and powers to the edge of the Cologne box, but his shot is blocked. 7:12PM 50 mins Maitland-Niles picks up where he left off, winning Arsenal a corner on the left. Elneny's delivery doesn't get past the first man. Not ideal. 7:09PM 48 mins The first yellow card of the match goes to Mathieu Debuchy after a needless foul on Sehrou Guirassy. 7:08PM Substitution for Arsenal Alex Iwobi is on for Danny Welbeck, who Arsene Wenger no doubt wants to protect from a recurrence of his most recent injury. 7:04PM Teams are back out ... for more Europa League football! Hooray! 6:53PM Half time Arsenal started to dominate as the half went on, with Ainsley Maitland-Niles their standout player and Francis Coquelin denied by the post. Cologne have shown very little threat going forwards, with toothlessness up front their main shortcoming as a side. Their defence has been passable, but can they hang on for another 45? Arsenal look to be well on top in Germany Credit: Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images 6:47PM 44 mins Elneny takes a long-distance shot which sails harmlessly into the stands. Let's have half time now, please. 6:45PM 42 mins Jack Wilshere wins a free kick in a promising position 30 yards out. Mohamed Elneny's airy delivery is punched away by Timo Horn. 6:44PM 41 mins Welbeck sets up the excellent Maitland-Niles but the youngster's shot rebounds off a wall of bodies. 6:41PM 37 mins Cologne are forced into a substitution after Olivier Giroud and Dominic Maroh come together in the box, with the latter seeming to pull his hamstring in the process. Maroh limps off and Konstantin Rausch comes on in his place. 6:36PM 31 mins Danny Welbeck is the latest Arsenal player to go close, curling a shot just past the far post from the left side of the area. The home side are walking on thin ice here. 6:33PM 29 mins Arsenal hit the post! Olivier Giroud chips a pass through to the onrushing Francis Coquelin, who blasts a shot off the upright and out for a goal kick. No goal, but it's been an enterprising performance from the defensive midfielder so far. Olivier Giroud is slowly playing his way into the game Credit: Maja Hitij/Getty Images 6:32PM 28 mins Ainsley Maitland-Niles again makes massive inroads on the left, lofting a cross straight to the boot of a teammate in front of goal. Sadly, that teammate is Calum Chambers. Timo Horn collects easily. 6:30PM 27 mins Japanese forward Yuya Osako takes a pot shot at David Ospina from long range, but slips over and sees his effort corkscrew horribly wide. That sums up the last ten minutes or so, really. Osako takes on Francis Coquelin Credit: Marius Becker/DPA 6:24PM 19 mins Arsenal have a shot on target and it's off the head of Jack Wilshere, believe it or not. It's straight at Timo Horn, unfortunately. 6:23PM 18 mins Maitland-Niles threads through Olivier Giroud to the left of the area, but the Frenchman gets his feet tangled and fails to make anything of the pass. Could it be one of those nights for Arsenal's No.12? 6:18PM 13 mins Close from Coquelin! Having failed to clear their lines after some messy passing in and around the box, Cologne gift Coquelin an opportunity to shoot from 25 yards. He goes surprisingly close, but his effort slams against the advertising boards. It would have been a turn up for the books had the Frenchman scored. Francis Coquelin in action Credit: Wolfgang Rattay/Reuters 6:15PM 11 mins Some lovely skill from Maitland-Niles almost sees him play a dangerous pass across the box, but he is muscled off the ball at the final second. 6:13PM 10 mins Things have quietened down a bit after a lively start to the game. Arsenal are seeing more of the ball, but only just. 6:09PM 5 mins First chance for the home side! Cologne striker Jhon Cordoba roars up the pitch and blasts at goal from a tight angle, forcing David Ospina into a full-stretch save. 6:04PM 2 mins Good early chance for Arsenal, with Welbeck and Wilshere combining well to send Ainsley Maitland-Niles away into the box. His angled shot is saved by Timo Horn, who confidently comes to collect the resulting corner. 6:01PM Minute's applause for Hans Schafer Schafer was Cologne's all-time top goalscorer and made 39 appearances for West Germany, winning the 1954 World Cup. He died earlier this month at 90 years of age. 5:59PM Teams are out ... and Cologne flags are fluttering in the stands. There's plenty of noise coming from the away fans, too, though the Arsenal contingent have a lot to live up to. Both sets of fans are in fine voice Credit: Maja Hitij/Getty Images 5:53PM Big night for the home fans Having suffered through a miserable start to the season, Cologne fans will no doubt want to enjoy another big European night against Premier League opposition. Will things be as wild as they were in London a couple of months ago? Maybe not, but the atmosphere is still bound to be mega. 5:42PM Cologne team news #effzeh will begin the match against @Arsenal with three strikers. Bench: Kessler, Olkowski, Risa, Lehmann, Rausch, Nartey, Bisseck #KOEAFC#ReturnoftheGOATpic.twitter.com/xKuEkY3xYD— 1. FC Cologne (@fckoeln_en) November 23, 2017 5:40PM Europa League Thursdays Coming off the back of a brilliant but no doubt exhausting victory in the North London derby last weekend, Arsenal have a very 'Europa League' flavour to their line-up tonight. Arsene Wenger has named an entirely different team for the trip to Cologne, with notable inclusions for Danny Welbeck, Olivier Giroud and Jack Wilshere in attack. An unfamiliar back three of Mathieu Debuchy, Per Mertesacker and Rob Holding should be interesting, with the defence now featuring that perfect blend of age, youth and extreme ponderousness. Calum Chambers at right wing-back should be similarly dubious in terms of pace – presuming Arsenal's pre-match graphic is accurate – though whether or not the Cologne attack will be able to take advantage is another question. Cologne are currently bottom of the Bundesliga with two points from 12 games, while they also sit bottom of Europa League Group H. They have scored four goals in the league all season which, let's face it, isn't great. Despite giving Arsenal a momentary scare with an early goal at the Emirates back in September, it would be a considerable upset if Cologne got anything from tonight's fixture. Wenger might have named a squad with one eye firmly on Arsenal's next game against Burnley, but the North Londoners should still come away with all three points at the RheinEnergieStadion – Calum Chambers at right wing-back or not. Arsene Wenger arrives at the RheinEnergieStadion Credit: Lukas Schulze/Getty Images 5:04PM Evening all Welcome to coverage of Arsenal's Europa League tie against Cologne, a match which sees the return of Danny Welbeck to first team action. Jack Wilshere also gets a chance to work his way back into Arsenal's Premier League plans with another strong performance in midfield. Here's the full Arsenal line-up: �� How we line up for tonight’s clash with @fckoeln... #COLvAFCpic.twitter.com/pz95afRnB5— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) November 23, 2017  

FC Cologne 1 Arsenal 0: Arsene Wenger's dreadful run in Germany continues with unexpected loss

After the champagne sparkle of that stirring victory over Tottenham Hotspur, this was the annoying hangover. Arsenal will go through as winners of Group H, in their first foray into the rebranded Europa League, but this was an unexpected, uninspiring performance which maintains Cologne’s hopes of joining them in the knock-out stage. Sehrou Guirassy’s second-half penalty inflicted a first defeat on Arsenal in Europe this season to ensure another miserable experience for Arsene Wenger on German soil. Wenger has now gone four games without a win in this country. BATE Borisov’s stalemate with Red Star Belgrade rendered this result largely irrelevant, but this was a world away from the thrilling win over Mauricio Pochettino last Saturday. Danny Welbeck played 45 minutes in his first appearance since the 2-1 defeat at Watford in October and looked sharp, while there was another encouraging performance from young winger Ainsley Maitland-Niles. But that was as good as it got, with the scenes of wild celebration at the end belonging to Cologne’s supporters, as they savoured a memorable night and only a second win at the RheinEnergieStadion this season. Danny Welbeck returned for Arsenal Credit: Reuters Wenger said: “You feel like you have done the job if you finish top of the group. I will tell you what it means after the draw, but finishing top is what we wanted. “We have lost a game here with their only shot on goal so that is disappointing. It is not a penalty at all and we missed a little bit in the final third. “We had plenty of dangerous situations but we always missed a little something to finish our chances. The pitch was a little handicap but I cannot fault the preparation or the concentration of the players.” There was a timely return for Welbeck, a striker anxious to make up for lost time, as Wenger made 11 changes to the starting XI that humbled Spurs. Welbeck’s hopes of being included in England’s squad for the World Cup next year are very much under threat after playing only one game in the last two months. Jack Wilshere makes a point to the ref Credit: Getty Images Gareth Southgate has a determination to utilise emerging talent while he also warned that players who do not play consistently for their club sides are in danger of missing out. Welbeck was clearly on a mission to make an impression before he was taken off at half-time as a precaution, ahead of Sunday’s trip to Burnley. “He was ready to stay on and frustrated to come off but he’s in good shape,” said Wenger. “It was planned before the game because we have three games coming up and medically it would have been a risk to play him for longer. He has no problem but he's been out for a while." Arsenal had secured qualification before this trip to western Germany but this was a typically mundane experience in the competition viewed as European football’s wooden spoon. In a lifeless first-half Arsenal came closest to taking the lead from the most unlikely of sources. Francis Coquelin is still waiting patiently for his first goal, nine years after making his debut, and nearly produced a Eureka moment on the half hour when unmarked in the box - but he struck the post from six yards. Sehrou Guirassy scores from the spot Credit: Reuters Cologne are currently the Bundesliga’s bottom club and their game plan was to use pace against an Arsenal back three not renowned for mobility but counter-attacks frequently collapsed, much to the frustration of a boisterous home support. Yet the crucial moment came just after the hour, when Mathieu Debuchy clumsily fouled Guirassy in the area. Guirassy, who had proved a sporadic menace, dispatched the penalty with ease and the noise was deafening, the two towers either side of the stand flashing red and white. Arsenal did respond, with Per Mertesacker and Jack Wilshere both forcing dramatic saves from Cologne goalkeeper Timo Horn. Reiss Nelson, an Arsenal substitute, also tested Horn as time ticked away before Wilshere was denied, again spectacularly, in added time. Yet Cologne secured the victory which sets up an intriguing final game against Red Star next month. 7:55PM Full time, Cologne nab the win Arsenal were the better side on the whole but Cologne did well to nick all three points. For the home side, it's a famous European win against one of the biggest clubs in England. For Arsenal, it's a mildly embarrassing result against the side rock bottom of the Bundesliga, though the North Londoners still top the group after Red Star Belgrade could only muster a draw with BATE Borisov. 7:52PM 90+2 mins Wilshere hits an absolute belter from 20 yards, but Timo Horn makes yet another good save. 7:50PM 89 mins Two great chances for Arsenal! First Reiss Nelson winds his way into the box and sees a close-range rocket saved by Timo Horn. Next, Wilshere crosses for Eddie Nketiah to poke home, but several desperate Cologne defenders throw themselves in the way. 7:48PM 88 mins Sehrou Guirassy gets a yellow card for a late challenge on Per Mertesacker. 7:46PM 84 mins Wilshere makes a jinking run forward and chips a pass towards Olivier Giroud, but it's just slightly overhit and the Frenchman can't get a header on goal. 7:43PM 83 mins Arsenal bring on League Cup hero Eddie Nketiah for Mathieu Debuchy. 7:42PM 82 mins Arsenal are sleepwalking to a loss to the bottom side in the Bundesliga, as things stand. It's a much-changed team but, still, a win for Cologne would be a blow to the pride of the players involved. 7:36PM 75 mins Great chance for Olivier Giroud, who makes a rare off-the-shoulder run and gets in one-on-one. Defender Jannes Horn and goalkeeper Timo Horn combine to keep him out. The former is down and in a bit of pain, having made an excellent last-ditch tackle and been caught on the shin by Giroud. Jannes and Timo Horn combine to stop Olivier Giroud Credit: Martin Meissner/AP 7:33PM 72 mins Cologne use their final substitution to bring off Yuya Osako for midfielder Matthias Lehmann. 7:28PM 67 mins Arsenal make another substitution, with Calum Chambers off for Reiss Nelson. 7:26PM 65 mins Another save for Timo Horn to make, this time a long-range fizzer from the boot of Jack Wilshere. Arsenal are ramping up the pressure but aren't making too many cutting-edge chances right now. 7:24PM 63 mins Chance for Mertesacker! The big German gets a header on target from a corner, but it's pushed out by Timo Horn. Olivier Giroud is inches away from converting on the rebound. Per Mertesacker gets his head to the ball Credit: Martin Meissner/AP 7:23PM GOAL! Cologne 1-0 Arsenal Cologne are ahead against the general run of play. That penalty decision will be a post-match talking point, with the challenge by Debuchy seeming fairly innocuous. 7:22PM 61 mins Penalty Cologne! Mathieu Debuchy tangles with Guirassy and the referee gives it, though it looks like a questionable decision. 7:20PM 59 mins Chance for Cologne, but Sehrou Guirassy doesn't make the most of it. A long ball falls kindly for the French forward, but he only half connects with the shot and David Ospina scoops it up gratefully. 7:17PM 56 mins It's a second substitution for Cologne, who bring off Jhon Cordoba for Pawel Olkowski. Can Cologne keep Arsenal from scoring this evening? Credit: Lukas Schulze/Getty Images 7:16PM 55 mins Iwobi combines with Wilshere and powers to the edge of the Cologne box, but his shot is blocked. 7:12PM 50 mins Maitland-Niles picks up where he left off, winning Arsenal a corner on the left. Elneny's delivery doesn't get past the first man. Not ideal. 7:09PM 48 mins The first yellow card of the match goes to Mathieu Debuchy after a needless foul on Sehrou Guirassy. 7:08PM Substitution for Arsenal Alex Iwobi is on for Danny Welbeck, who Arsene Wenger no doubt wants to protect from a recurrence of his most recent injury. 7:04PM Teams are back out ... for more Europa League football! Hooray! 6:53PM Half time Arsenal started to dominate as the half went on, with Ainsley Maitland-Niles their standout player and Francis Coquelin denied by the post. Cologne have shown very little threat going forwards, with toothlessness up front their main shortcoming as a side. Their defence has been passable, but can they hang on for another 45? Arsenal look to be well on top in Germany Credit: Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images 6:47PM 44 mins Elneny takes a long-distance shot which sails harmlessly into the stands. Let's have half time now, please. 6:45PM 42 mins Jack Wilshere wins a free kick in a promising position 30 yards out. Mohamed Elneny's airy delivery is punched away by Timo Horn. 6:44PM 41 mins Welbeck sets up the excellent Maitland-Niles but the youngster's shot rebounds off a wall of bodies. 6:41PM 37 mins Cologne are forced into a substitution after Olivier Giroud and Dominic Maroh come together in the box, with the latter seeming to pull his hamstring in the process. Maroh limps off and Konstantin Rausch comes on in his place. 6:36PM 31 mins Danny Welbeck is the latest Arsenal player to go close, curling a shot just past the far post from the left side of the area. The home side are walking on thin ice here. 6:33PM 29 mins Arsenal hit the post! Olivier Giroud chips a pass through to the onrushing Francis Coquelin, who blasts a shot off the upright and out for a goal kick. No goal, but it's been an enterprising performance from the defensive midfielder so far. Olivier Giroud is slowly playing his way into the game Credit: Maja Hitij/Getty Images 6:32PM 28 mins Ainsley Maitland-Niles again makes massive inroads on the left, lofting a cross straight to the boot of a teammate in front of goal. Sadly, that teammate is Calum Chambers. Timo Horn collects easily. 6:30PM 27 mins Japanese forward Yuya Osako takes a pot shot at David Ospina from long range, but slips over and sees his effort corkscrew horribly wide. That sums up the last ten minutes or so, really. Osako takes on Francis Coquelin Credit: Marius Becker/DPA 6:24PM 19 mins Arsenal have a shot on target and it's off the head of Jack Wilshere, believe it or not. It's straight at Timo Horn, unfortunately. 6:23PM 18 mins Maitland-Niles threads through Olivier Giroud to the left of the area, but the Frenchman gets his feet tangled and fails to make anything of the pass. Could it be one of those nights for Arsenal's No.12? 6:18PM 13 mins Close from Coquelin! Having failed to clear their lines after some messy passing in and around the box, Cologne gift Coquelin an opportunity to shoot from 25 yards. He goes surprisingly close, but his effort slams against the advertising boards. It would have been a turn up for the books had the Frenchman scored. Francis Coquelin in action Credit: Wolfgang Rattay/Reuters 6:15PM 11 mins Some lovely skill from Maitland-Niles almost sees him play a dangerous pass across the box, but he is muscled off the ball at the final second. 6:13PM 10 mins Things have quietened down a bit after a lively start to the game. Arsenal are seeing more of the ball, but only just. 6:09PM 5 mins First chance for the home side! Cologne striker Jhon Cordoba roars up the pitch and blasts at goal from a tight angle, forcing David Ospina into a full-stretch save. 6:04PM 2 mins Good early chance for Arsenal, with Welbeck and Wilshere combining well to send Ainsley Maitland-Niles away into the box. His angled shot is saved by Timo Horn, who confidently comes to collect the resulting corner. 6:01PM Minute's applause for Hans Schafer Schafer was Cologne's all-time top goalscorer and made 39 appearances for West Germany, winning the 1954 World Cup. He died earlier this month at 90 years of age. 5:59PM Teams are out ... and Cologne flags are fluttering in the stands. There's plenty of noise coming from the away fans, too, though the Arsenal contingent have a lot to live up to. Both sets of fans are in fine voice Credit: Maja Hitij/Getty Images 5:53PM Big night for the home fans Having suffered through a miserable start to the season, Cologne fans will no doubt want to enjoy another big European night against Premier League opposition. Will things be as wild as they were in London a couple of months ago? Maybe not, but the atmosphere is still bound to be mega. 5:42PM Cologne team news #effzeh will begin the match against @Arsenal with three strikers. Bench: Kessler, Olkowski, Risa, Lehmann, Rausch, Nartey, Bisseck #KOEAFC#ReturnoftheGOATpic.twitter.com/xKuEkY3xYD— 1. FC Cologne (@fckoeln_en) November 23, 2017 5:40PM Europa League Thursdays Coming off the back of a brilliant but no doubt exhausting victory in the North London derby last weekend, Arsenal have a very 'Europa League' flavour to their line-up tonight. Arsene Wenger has named an entirely different team for the trip to Cologne, with notable inclusions for Danny Welbeck, Olivier Giroud and Jack Wilshere in attack. An unfamiliar back three of Mathieu Debuchy, Per Mertesacker and Rob Holding should be interesting, with the defence now featuring that perfect blend of age, youth and extreme ponderousness. Calum Chambers at right wing-back should be similarly dubious in terms of pace – presuming Arsenal's pre-match graphic is accurate – though whether or not the Cologne attack will be able to take advantage is another question. Cologne are currently bottom of the Bundesliga with two points from 12 games, while they also sit bottom of Europa League Group H. They have scored four goals in the league all season which, let's face it, isn't great. Despite giving Arsenal a momentary scare with an early goal at the Emirates back in September, it would be a considerable upset if Cologne got anything from tonight's fixture. Wenger might have named a squad with one eye firmly on Arsenal's next game against Burnley, but the North Londoners should still come away with all three points at the RheinEnergieStadion – Calum Chambers at right wing-back or not. Arsene Wenger arrives at the RheinEnergieStadion Credit: Lukas Schulze/Getty Images 5:04PM Evening all Welcome to coverage of Arsenal's Europa League tie against Cologne, a match which sees the return of Danny Welbeck to first team action. Jack Wilshere also gets a chance to work his way back into Arsenal's Premier League plans with another strong performance in midfield. Here's the full Arsenal line-up: �� How we line up for tonight’s clash with @fckoeln... #COLvAFCpic.twitter.com/pz95afRnB5— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) November 23, 2017  

FC Cologne 1 Arsenal 0: Arsene Wenger's dreadful run in Germany continues with unexpected loss

After the champagne sparkle of that stirring victory over Tottenham Hotspur, this was the annoying hangover. Arsenal will go through as winners of Group H, in their first foray into the rebranded Europa League, but this was an unexpected, uninspiring performance which maintains Cologne’s hopes of joining them in the knock-out stage. Sehrou Guirassy’s second-half penalty inflicted a first defeat on Arsenal in Europe this season to ensure another miserable experience for Arsene Wenger on German soil. Wenger has now gone four games without a win in this country. BATE Borisov’s stalemate with Red Star Belgrade rendered this result largely irrelevant, but this was a world away from the thrilling win over Mauricio Pochettino last Saturday. Danny Welbeck played 45 minutes in his first appearance since the 2-1 defeat at Watford in October and looked sharp, while there was another encouraging performance from young winger Ainsley Maitland-Niles. But that was as good as it got, with the scenes of wild celebration at the end belonging to Cologne’s supporters, as they savoured a memorable night and only a second win at the RheinEnergieStadion this season. Danny Welbeck returned for Arsenal Credit: Reuters Wenger said: “You feel like you have done the job if you finish top of the group. I will tell you what it means after the draw, but finishing top is what we wanted. “We have lost a game here with their only shot on goal so that is disappointing. It is not a penalty at all and we missed a little bit in the final third. “We had plenty of dangerous situations but we always missed a little something to finish our chances. The pitch was a little handicap but I cannot fault the preparation or the concentration of the players.” There was a timely return for Welbeck, a striker anxious to make up for lost time, as Wenger made 11 changes to the starting XI that humbled Spurs. Welbeck’s hopes of being included in England’s squad for the World Cup next year are very much under threat after playing only one game in the last two months. Jack Wilshere makes a point to the ref Credit: Getty Images Gareth Southgate has a determination to utilise emerging talent while he also warned that players who do not play consistently for their club sides are in danger of missing out. Welbeck was clearly on a mission to make an impression before he was taken off at half-time as a precaution, ahead of Sunday’s trip to Burnley. “He was ready to stay on and frustrated to come off but he’s in good shape,” said Wenger. “It was planned before the game because we have three games coming up and medically it would have been a risk to play him for longer. He has no problem but he's been out for a while." Arsenal had secured qualification before this trip to western Germany but this was a typically mundane experience in the competition viewed as European football’s wooden spoon. In a lifeless first-half Arsenal came closest to taking the lead from the most unlikely of sources. Francis Coquelin is still waiting patiently for his first goal, nine years after making his debut, and nearly produced a Eureka moment on the half hour when unmarked in the box - but he struck the post from six yards. Sehrou Guirassy scores from the spot Credit: Reuters Cologne are currently the Bundesliga’s bottom club and their game plan was to use pace against an Arsenal back three not renowned for mobility but counter-attacks frequently collapsed, much to the frustration of a boisterous home support. Yet the crucial moment came just after the hour, when Mathieu Debuchy clumsily fouled Guirassy in the area. Guirassy, who had proved a sporadic menace, dispatched the penalty with ease and the noise was deafening, the two towers either side of the stand flashing red and white. Arsenal did respond, with Per Mertesacker and Jack Wilshere both forcing dramatic saves from Cologne goalkeeper Timo Horn. Reiss Nelson, an Arsenal substitute, also tested Horn as time ticked away before Wilshere was denied, again spectacularly, in added time. Yet Cologne secured the victory which sets up an intriguing final game against Red Star next month. 7:55PM Full time, Cologne nab the win Arsenal were the better side on the whole but Cologne did well to nick all three points. For the home side, it's a famous European win against one of the biggest clubs in England. For Arsenal, it's a mildly embarrassing result against the side rock bottom of the Bundesliga, though the North Londoners still top the group after Red Star Belgrade could only muster a draw with BATE Borisov. 7:52PM 90+2 mins Wilshere hits an absolute belter from 20 yards, but Timo Horn makes yet another good save. 7:50PM 89 mins Two great chances for Arsenal! First Reiss Nelson winds his way into the box and sees a close-range rocket saved by Timo Horn. Next, Wilshere crosses for Eddie Nketiah to poke home, but several desperate Cologne defenders throw themselves in the way. 7:48PM 88 mins Sehrou Guirassy gets a yellow card for a late challenge on Per Mertesacker. 7:46PM 84 mins Wilshere makes a jinking run forward and chips a pass towards Olivier Giroud, but it's just slightly overhit and the Frenchman can't get a header on goal. 7:43PM 83 mins Arsenal bring on League Cup hero Eddie Nketiah for Mathieu Debuchy. 7:42PM 82 mins Arsenal are sleepwalking to a loss to the bottom side in the Bundesliga, as things stand. It's a much-changed team but, still, a win for Cologne would be a blow to the pride of the players involved. 7:36PM 75 mins Great chance for Olivier Giroud, who makes a rare off-the-shoulder run and gets in one-on-one. Defender Jannes Horn and goalkeeper Timo Horn combine to keep him out. The former is down and in a bit of pain, having made an excellent last-ditch tackle and been caught on the shin by Giroud. Jannes and Timo Horn combine to stop Olivier Giroud Credit: Martin Meissner/AP 7:33PM 72 mins Cologne use their final substitution to bring off Yuya Osako for midfielder Matthias Lehmann. 7:28PM 67 mins Arsenal make another substitution, with Calum Chambers off for Reiss Nelson. 7:26PM 65 mins Another save for Timo Horn to make, this time a long-range fizzer from the boot of Jack Wilshere. Arsenal are ramping up the pressure but aren't making too many cutting-edge chances right now. 7:24PM 63 mins Chance for Mertesacker! The big German gets a header on target from a corner, but it's pushed out by Timo Horn. Olivier Giroud is inches away from converting on the rebound. Per Mertesacker gets his head to the ball Credit: Martin Meissner/AP 7:23PM GOAL! Cologne 1-0 Arsenal Cologne are ahead against the general run of play. That penalty decision will be a post-match talking point, with the challenge by Debuchy seeming fairly innocuous. 7:22PM 61 mins Penalty Cologne! Mathieu Debuchy tangles with Guirassy and the referee gives it, though it looks like a questionable decision. 7:20PM 59 mins Chance for Cologne, but Sehrou Guirassy doesn't make the most of it. A long ball falls kindly for the French forward, but he only half connects with the shot and David Ospina scoops it up gratefully. 7:17PM 56 mins It's a second substitution for Cologne, who bring off Jhon Cordoba for Pawel Olkowski. Can Cologne keep Arsenal from scoring this evening? Credit: Lukas Schulze/Getty Images 7:16PM 55 mins Iwobi combines with Wilshere and powers to the edge of the Cologne box, but his shot is blocked. 7:12PM 50 mins Maitland-Niles picks up where he left off, winning Arsenal a corner on the left. Elneny's delivery doesn't get past the first man. Not ideal. 7:09PM 48 mins The first yellow card of the match goes to Mathieu Debuchy after a needless foul on Sehrou Guirassy. 7:08PM Substitution for Arsenal Alex Iwobi is on for Danny Welbeck, who Arsene Wenger no doubt wants to protect from a recurrence of his most recent injury. 7:04PM Teams are back out ... for more Europa League football! Hooray! 6:53PM Half time Arsenal started to dominate as the half went on, with Ainsley Maitland-Niles their standout player and Francis Coquelin denied by the post. Cologne have shown very little threat going forwards, with toothlessness up front their main shortcoming as a side. Their defence has been passable, but can they hang on for another 45? Arsenal look to be well on top in Germany Credit: Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images 6:47PM 44 mins Elneny takes a long-distance shot which sails harmlessly into the stands. Let's have half time now, please. 6:45PM 42 mins Jack Wilshere wins a free kick in a promising position 30 yards out. Mohamed Elneny's airy delivery is punched away by Timo Horn. 6:44PM 41 mins Welbeck sets up the excellent Maitland-Niles but the youngster's shot rebounds off a wall of bodies. 6:41PM 37 mins Cologne are forced into a substitution after Olivier Giroud and Dominic Maroh come together in the box, with the latter seeming to pull his hamstring in the process. Maroh limps off and Konstantin Rausch comes on in his place. 6:36PM 31 mins Danny Welbeck is the latest Arsenal player to go close, curling a shot just past the far post from the left side of the area. The home side are walking on thin ice here. 6:33PM 29 mins Arsenal hit the post! Olivier Giroud chips a pass through to the onrushing Francis Coquelin, who blasts a shot off the upright and out for a goal kick. No goal, but it's been an enterprising performance from the defensive midfielder so far. Olivier Giroud is slowly playing his way into the game Credit: Maja Hitij/Getty Images 6:32PM 28 mins Ainsley Maitland-Niles again makes massive inroads on the left, lofting a cross straight to the boot of a teammate in front of goal. Sadly, that teammate is Calum Chambers. Timo Horn collects easily. 6:30PM 27 mins Japanese forward Yuya Osako takes a pot shot at David Ospina from long range, but slips over and sees his effort corkscrew horribly wide. That sums up the last ten minutes or so, really. Osako takes on Francis Coquelin Credit: Marius Becker/DPA 6:24PM 19 mins Arsenal have a shot on target and it's off the head of Jack Wilshere, believe it or not. It's straight at Timo Horn, unfortunately. 6:23PM 18 mins Maitland-Niles threads through Olivier Giroud to the left of the area, but the Frenchman gets his feet tangled and fails to make anything of the pass. Could it be one of those nights for Arsenal's No.12? 6:18PM 13 mins Close from Coquelin! Having failed to clear their lines after some messy passing in and around the box, Cologne gift Coquelin an opportunity to shoot from 25 yards. He goes surprisingly close, but his effort slams against the advertising boards. It would have been a turn up for the books had the Frenchman scored. Francis Coquelin in action Credit: Wolfgang Rattay/Reuters 6:15PM 11 mins Some lovely skill from Maitland-Niles almost sees him play a dangerous pass across the box, but he is muscled off the ball at the final second. 6:13PM 10 mins Things have quietened down a bit after a lively start to the game. Arsenal are seeing more of the ball, but only just. 6:09PM 5 mins First chance for the home side! Cologne striker Jhon Cordoba roars up the pitch and blasts at goal from a tight angle, forcing David Ospina into a full-stretch save. 6:04PM 2 mins Good early chance for Arsenal, with Welbeck and Wilshere combining well to send Ainsley Maitland-Niles away into the box. His angled shot is saved by Timo Horn, who confidently comes to collect the resulting corner. 6:01PM Minute's applause for Hans Schafer Schafer was Cologne's all-time top goalscorer and made 39 appearances for West Germany, winning the 1954 World Cup. He died earlier this month at 90 years of age. 5:59PM Teams are out ... and Cologne flags are fluttering in the stands. There's plenty of noise coming from the away fans, too, though the Arsenal contingent have a lot to live up to. Both sets of fans are in fine voice Credit: Maja Hitij/Getty Images 5:53PM Big night for the home fans Having suffered through a miserable start to the season, Cologne fans will no doubt want to enjoy another big European night against Premier League opposition. Will things be as wild as they were in London a couple of months ago? Maybe not, but the atmosphere is still bound to be mega. 5:42PM Cologne team news #effzeh will begin the match against @Arsenal with three strikers. Bench: Kessler, Olkowski, Risa, Lehmann, Rausch, Nartey, Bisseck #KOEAFC#ReturnoftheGOATpic.twitter.com/xKuEkY3xYD— 1. FC Cologne (@fckoeln_en) November 23, 2017 5:40PM Europa League Thursdays Coming off the back of a brilliant but no doubt exhausting victory in the North London derby last weekend, Arsenal have a very 'Europa League' flavour to their line-up tonight. Arsene Wenger has named an entirely different team for the trip to Cologne, with notable inclusions for Danny Welbeck, Olivier Giroud and Jack Wilshere in attack. An unfamiliar back three of Mathieu Debuchy, Per Mertesacker and Rob Holding should be interesting, with the defence now featuring that perfect blend of age, youth and extreme ponderousness. Calum Chambers at right wing-back should be similarly dubious in terms of pace – presuming Arsenal's pre-match graphic is accurate – though whether or not the Cologne attack will be able to take advantage is another question. Cologne are currently bottom of the Bundesliga with two points from 12 games, while they also sit bottom of Europa League Group H. They have scored four goals in the league all season which, let's face it, isn't great. Despite giving Arsenal a momentary scare with an early goal at the Emirates back in September, it would be a considerable upset if Cologne got anything from tonight's fixture. Wenger might have named a squad with one eye firmly on Arsenal's next game against Burnley, but the North Londoners should still come away with all three points at the RheinEnergieStadion – Calum Chambers at right wing-back or not. Arsene Wenger arrives at the RheinEnergieStadion Credit: Lukas Schulze/Getty Images 5:04PM Evening all Welcome to coverage of Arsenal's Europa League tie against Cologne, a match which sees the return of Danny Welbeck to first team action. Jack Wilshere also gets a chance to work his way back into Arsenal's Premier League plans with another strong performance in midfield. Here's the full Arsenal line-up: �� How we line up for tonight’s clash with @fckoeln... #COLvAFCpic.twitter.com/pz95afRnB5— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) November 23, 2017  

FC Cologne 1 Arsenal 0: Arsene Wenger's dreadful run in Germany continues with unexpected loss

After the champagne sparkle of that stirring victory over Tottenham Hotspur, this was the annoying hangover. Arsenal will go through as winners of Group H, in their first foray into the rebranded Europa League, but this was an unexpected, uninspiring performance which maintains Cologne’s hopes of joining them in the knock-out stage. Sehrou Guirassy’s second-half penalty inflicted a first defeat on Arsenal in Europe this season to ensure another miserable experience for Arsene Wenger on German soil. Wenger has now gone four games without a win in this country. BATE Borisov’s stalemate with Red Star Belgrade rendered this result largely irrelevant, but this was a world away from the thrilling win over Mauricio Pochettino last Saturday. Danny Welbeck played 45 minutes in his first appearance since the 2-1 defeat at Watford in October and looked sharp, while there was another encouraging performance from young winger Ainsley Maitland-Niles. But that was as good as it got, with the scenes of wild celebration at the end belonging to Cologne’s supporters, as they savoured a memorable night and only a second win at the RheinEnergieStadion this season. Danny Welbeck returned for Arsenal Credit: Reuters Wenger said: “You feel like you have done the job if you finish top of the group. I will tell you what it means after the draw, but finishing top is what we wanted. “We have lost a game here with their only shot on goal so that is disappointing. It is not a penalty at all and we missed a little bit in the final third. “We had plenty of dangerous situations but we always missed a little something to finish our chances. The pitch was a little handicap but I cannot fault the preparation or the concentration of the players.” There was a timely return for Welbeck, a striker anxious to make up for lost time, as Wenger made 11 changes to the starting XI that humbled Spurs. Welbeck’s hopes of being included in England’s squad for the World Cup next year are very much under threat after playing only one game in the last two months. Jack Wilshere makes a point to the ref Credit: Getty Images Gareth Southgate has a determination to utilise emerging talent while he also warned that players who do not play consistently for their club sides are in danger of missing out. Welbeck was clearly on a mission to make an impression before he was taken off at half-time as a precaution, ahead of Sunday’s trip to Burnley. “He was ready to stay on and frustrated to come off but he’s in good shape,” said Wenger. “It was planned before the game because we have three games coming up and medically it would have been a risk to play him for longer. He has no problem but he's been out for a while." Arsenal had secured qualification before this trip to western Germany but this was a typically mundane experience in the competition viewed as European football’s wooden spoon. In a lifeless first-half Arsenal came closest to taking the lead from the most unlikely of sources. Francis Coquelin is still waiting patiently for his first goal, nine years after making his debut, and nearly produced a Eureka moment on the half hour when unmarked in the box - but he struck the post from six yards. Sehrou Guirassy scores from the spot Credit: Reuters Cologne are currently the Bundesliga’s bottom club and their game plan was to use pace against an Arsenal back three not renowned for mobility but counter-attacks frequently collapsed, much to the frustration of a boisterous home support. Yet the crucial moment came just after the hour, when Mathieu Debuchy clumsily fouled Guirassy in the area. Guirassy, who had proved a sporadic menace, dispatched the penalty with ease and the noise was deafening, the two towers either side of the stand flashing red and white. Arsenal did respond, with Per Mertesacker and Jack Wilshere both forcing dramatic saves from Cologne goalkeeper Timo Horn. Reiss Nelson, an Arsenal substitute, also tested Horn as time ticked away before Wilshere was denied, again spectacularly, in added time. Yet Cologne secured the victory which sets up an intriguing final game against Red Star next month. 7:55PM Full time, Cologne nab the win Arsenal were the better side on the whole but Cologne did well to nick all three points. For the home side, it's a famous European win against one of the biggest clubs in England. For Arsenal, it's a mildly embarrassing result against the side rock bottom of the Bundesliga, though the North Londoners still top the group after Red Star Belgrade could only muster a draw with BATE Borisov. 7:52PM 90+2 mins Wilshere hits an absolute belter from 20 yards, but Timo Horn makes yet another good save. 7:50PM 89 mins Two great chances for Arsenal! First Reiss Nelson winds his way into the box and sees a close-range rocket saved by Timo Horn. Next, Wilshere crosses for Eddie Nketiah to poke home, but several desperate Cologne defenders throw themselves in the way. 7:48PM 88 mins Sehrou Guirassy gets a yellow card for a late challenge on Per Mertesacker. 7:46PM 84 mins Wilshere makes a jinking run forward and chips a pass towards Olivier Giroud, but it's just slightly overhit and the Frenchman can't get a header on goal. 7:43PM 83 mins Arsenal bring on League Cup hero Eddie Nketiah for Mathieu Debuchy. 7:42PM 82 mins Arsenal are sleepwalking to a loss to the bottom side in the Bundesliga, as things stand. It's a much-changed team but, still, a win for Cologne would be a blow to the pride of the players involved. 7:36PM 75 mins Great chance for Olivier Giroud, who makes a rare off-the-shoulder run and gets in one-on-one. Defender Jannes Horn and goalkeeper Timo Horn combine to keep him out. The former is down and in a bit of pain, having made an excellent last-ditch tackle and been caught on the shin by Giroud. Jannes and Timo Horn combine to stop Olivier Giroud Credit: Martin Meissner/AP 7:33PM 72 mins Cologne use their final substitution to bring off Yuya Osako for midfielder Matthias Lehmann. 7:28PM 67 mins Arsenal make another substitution, with Calum Chambers off for Reiss Nelson. 7:26PM 65 mins Another save for Timo Horn to make, this time a long-range fizzer from the boot of Jack Wilshere. Arsenal are ramping up the pressure but aren't making too many cutting-edge chances right now. 7:24PM 63 mins Chance for Mertesacker! The big German gets a header on target from a corner, but it's pushed out by Timo Horn. Olivier Giroud is inches away from converting on the rebound. Per Mertesacker gets his head to the ball Credit: Martin Meissner/AP 7:23PM GOAL! Cologne 1-0 Arsenal Cologne are ahead against the general run of play. That penalty decision will be a post-match talking point, with the challenge by Debuchy seeming fairly innocuous. 7:22PM 61 mins Penalty Cologne! Mathieu Debuchy tangles with Guirassy and the referee gives it, though it looks like a questionable decision. 7:20PM 59 mins Chance for Cologne, but Sehrou Guirassy doesn't make the most of it. A long ball falls kindly for the French forward, but he only half connects with the shot and David Ospina scoops it up gratefully. 7:17PM 56 mins It's a second substitution for Cologne, who bring off Jhon Cordoba for Pawel Olkowski. Can Cologne keep Arsenal from scoring this evening? Credit: Lukas Schulze/Getty Images 7:16PM 55 mins Iwobi combines with Wilshere and powers to the edge of the Cologne box, but his shot is blocked. 7:12PM 50 mins Maitland-Niles picks up where he left off, winning Arsenal a corner on the left. Elneny's delivery doesn't get past the first man. Not ideal. 7:09PM 48 mins The first yellow card of the match goes to Mathieu Debuchy after a needless foul on Sehrou Guirassy. 7:08PM Substitution for Arsenal Alex Iwobi is on for Danny Welbeck, who Arsene Wenger no doubt wants to protect from a recurrence of his most recent injury. 7:04PM Teams are back out ... for more Europa League football! Hooray! 6:53PM Half time Arsenal started to dominate as the half went on, with Ainsley Maitland-Niles their standout player and Francis Coquelin denied by the post. Cologne have shown very little threat going forwards, with toothlessness up front their main shortcoming as a side. Their defence has been passable, but can they hang on for another 45? Arsenal look to be well on top in Germany Credit: Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images 6:47PM 44 mins Elneny takes a long-distance shot which sails harmlessly into the stands. Let's have half time now, please. 6:45PM 42 mins Jack Wilshere wins a free kick in a promising position 30 yards out. Mohamed Elneny's airy delivery is punched away by Timo Horn. 6:44PM 41 mins Welbeck sets up the excellent Maitland-Niles but the youngster's shot rebounds off a wall of bodies. 6:41PM 37 mins Cologne are forced into a substitution after Olivier Giroud and Dominic Maroh come together in the box, with the latter seeming to pull his hamstring in the process. Maroh limps off and Konstantin Rausch comes on in his place. 6:36PM 31 mins Danny Welbeck is the latest Arsenal player to go close, curling a shot just past the far post from the left side of the area. The home side are walking on thin ice here. 6:33PM 29 mins Arsenal hit the post! Olivier Giroud chips a pass through to the onrushing Francis Coquelin, who blasts a shot off the upright and out for a goal kick. No goal, but it's been an enterprising performance from the defensive midfielder so far. Olivier Giroud is slowly playing his way into the game Credit: Maja Hitij/Getty Images 6:32PM 28 mins Ainsley Maitland-Niles again makes massive inroads on the left, lofting a cross straight to the boot of a teammate in front of goal. Sadly, that teammate is Calum Chambers. Timo Horn collects easily. 6:30PM 27 mins Japanese forward Yuya Osako takes a pot shot at David Ospina from long range, but slips over and sees his effort corkscrew horribly wide. That sums up the last ten minutes or so, really. Osako takes on Francis Coquelin Credit: Marius Becker/DPA 6:24PM 19 mins Arsenal have a shot on target and it's off the head of Jack Wilshere, believe it or not. It's straight at Timo Horn, unfortunately. 6:23PM 18 mins Maitland-Niles threads through Olivier Giroud to the left of the area, but the Frenchman gets his feet tangled and fails to make anything of the pass. Could it be one of those nights for Arsenal's No.12? 6:18PM 13 mins Close from Coquelin! Having failed to clear their lines after some messy passing in and around the box, Cologne gift Coquelin an opportunity to shoot from 25 yards. He goes surprisingly close, but his effort slams against the advertising boards. It would have been a turn up for the books had the Frenchman scored. Francis Coquelin in action Credit: Wolfgang Rattay/Reuters 6:15PM 11 mins Some lovely skill from Maitland-Niles almost sees him play a dangerous pass across the box, but he is muscled off the ball at the final second. 6:13PM 10 mins Things have quietened down a bit after a lively start to the game. Arsenal are seeing more of the ball, but only just. 6:09PM 5 mins First chance for the home side! Cologne striker Jhon Cordoba roars up the pitch and blasts at goal from a tight angle, forcing David Ospina into a full-stretch save. 6:04PM 2 mins Good early chance for Arsenal, with Welbeck and Wilshere combining well to send Ainsley Maitland-Niles away into the box. His angled shot is saved by Timo Horn, who confidently comes to collect the resulting corner. 6:01PM Minute's applause for Hans Schafer Schafer was Cologne's all-time top goalscorer and made 39 appearances for West Germany, winning the 1954 World Cup. He died earlier this month at 90 years of age. 5:59PM Teams are out ... and Cologne flags are fluttering in the stands. There's plenty of noise coming from the away fans, too, though the Arsenal contingent have a lot to live up to. Both sets of fans are in fine voice Credit: Maja Hitij/Getty Images 5:53PM Big night for the home fans Having suffered through a miserable start to the season, Cologne fans will no doubt want to enjoy another big European night against Premier League opposition. Will things be as wild as they were in London a couple of months ago? Maybe not, but the atmosphere is still bound to be mega. 5:42PM Cologne team news #effzeh will begin the match against @Arsenal with three strikers. Bench: Kessler, Olkowski, Risa, Lehmann, Rausch, Nartey, Bisseck #KOEAFC#ReturnoftheGOATpic.twitter.com/xKuEkY3xYD— 1. FC Cologne (@fckoeln_en) November 23, 2017 5:40PM Europa League Thursdays Coming off the back of a brilliant but no doubt exhausting victory in the North London derby last weekend, Arsenal have a very 'Europa League' flavour to their line-up tonight. Arsene Wenger has named an entirely different team for the trip to Cologne, with notable inclusions for Danny Welbeck, Olivier Giroud and Jack Wilshere in attack. An unfamiliar back three of Mathieu Debuchy, Per Mertesacker and Rob Holding should be interesting, with the defence now featuring that perfect blend of age, youth and extreme ponderousness. Calum Chambers at right wing-back should be similarly dubious in terms of pace – presuming Arsenal's pre-match graphic is accurate – though whether or not the Cologne attack will be able to take advantage is another question. Cologne are currently bottom of the Bundesliga with two points from 12 games, while they also sit bottom of Europa League Group H. They have scored four goals in the league all season which, let's face it, isn't great. Despite giving Arsenal a momentary scare with an early goal at the Emirates back in September, it would be a considerable upset if Cologne got anything from tonight's fixture. Wenger might have named a squad with one eye firmly on Arsenal's next game against Burnley, but the North Londoners should still come away with all three points at the RheinEnergieStadion – Calum Chambers at right wing-back or not. Arsene Wenger arrives at the RheinEnergieStadion Credit: Lukas Schulze/Getty Images 5:04PM Evening all Welcome to coverage of Arsenal's Europa League tie against Cologne, a match which sees the return of Danny Welbeck to first team action. Jack Wilshere also gets a chance to work his way back into Arsenal's Premier League plans with another strong performance in midfield. Here's the full Arsenal line-up: �� How we line up for tonight’s clash with @fckoeln... #COLvAFCpic.twitter.com/pz95afRnB5— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) November 23, 2017  

FC Cologne 1 Arsenal 0: Arsene Wenger's dreadful run in Germany continues with unexpected loss

After the champagne sparkle of that stirring victory over Tottenham Hotspur, this was the annoying hangover. Arsenal will go through as winners of Group H, in their first foray into the rebranded Europa League, but this was an unexpected, uninspiring performance which maintains Cologne’s hopes of joining them in the knock-out stage. Sehrou Guirassy’s second-half penalty inflicted a first defeat on Arsenal in Europe this season to ensure another miserable experience for Arsene Wenger on German soil. Wenger has now gone four games without a win in this country. BATE Borisov’s stalemate with Red Star Belgrade rendered this result largely irrelevant, but this was a world away from the thrilling win over Mauricio Pochettino last Saturday. Danny Welbeck played 45 minutes in his first appearance since the 2-1 defeat at Watford in October and looked sharp, while there was another encouraging performance from young winger Ainsley Maitland-Niles. But that was as good as it got, with the scenes of wild celebration at the end belonging to Cologne’s supporters, as they savoured a memorable night and only a second win at the RheinEnergieStadion this season. Danny Welbeck returned for Arsenal Credit: Reuters Wenger said: “You feel like you have done the job if you finish top of the group. I will tell you what it means after the draw, but finishing top is what we wanted. “We have lost a game here with their only shot on goal so that is disappointing. It is not a penalty at all and we missed a little bit in the final third. “We had plenty of dangerous situations but we always missed a little something to finish our chances. The pitch was a little handicap but I cannot fault the preparation or the concentration of the players.” There was a timely return for Welbeck, a striker anxious to make up for lost time, as Wenger made 11 changes to the starting XI that humbled Spurs. Welbeck’s hopes of being included in England’s squad for the World Cup next year are very much under threat after playing only one game in the last two months. Jack Wilshere makes a point to the ref Credit: Getty Images Gareth Southgate has a determination to utilise emerging talent while he also warned that players who do not play consistently for their club sides are in danger of missing out. Welbeck was clearly on a mission to make an impression before he was taken off at half-time as a precaution, ahead of Sunday’s trip to Burnley. “He was ready to stay on and frustrated to come off but he’s in good shape,” said Wenger. “It was planned before the game because we have three games coming up and medically it would have been a risk to play him for longer. He has no problem but he's been out for a while." Arsenal had secured qualification before this trip to western Germany but this was a typically mundane experience in the competition viewed as European football’s wooden spoon. In a lifeless first-half Arsenal came closest to taking the lead from the most unlikely of sources. Francis Coquelin is still waiting patiently for his first goal, nine years after making his debut, and nearly produced a Eureka moment on the half hour when unmarked in the box - but he struck the post from six yards. Sehrou Guirassy scores from the spot Credit: Reuters Cologne are currently the Bundesliga’s bottom club and their game plan was to use pace against an Arsenal back three not renowned for mobility but counter-attacks frequently collapsed, much to the frustration of a boisterous home support. Yet the crucial moment came just after the hour, when Mathieu Debuchy clumsily fouled Guirassy in the area. Guirassy, who had proved a sporadic menace, dispatched the penalty with ease and the noise was deafening, the two towers either side of the stand flashing red and white. Arsenal did respond, with Per Mertesacker and Jack Wilshere both forcing dramatic saves from Cologne goalkeeper Timo Horn. Reiss Nelson, an Arsenal substitute, also tested Horn as time ticked away before Wilshere was denied, again spectacularly, in added time. Yet Cologne secured the victory which sets up an intriguing final game against Red Star next month. 7:55PM Full time, Cologne nab the win Arsenal were the better side on the whole but Cologne did well to nick all three points. For the home side, it's a famous European win against one of the biggest clubs in England. For Arsenal, it's a mildly embarrassing result against the side rock bottom of the Bundesliga, though the North Londoners still top the group after Red Star Belgrade could only muster a draw with BATE Borisov. 7:52PM 90+2 mins Wilshere hits an absolute belter from 20 yards, but Timo Horn makes yet another good save. 7:50PM 89 mins Two great chances for Arsenal! First Reiss Nelson winds his way into the box and sees a close-range rocket saved by Timo Horn. Next, Wilshere crosses for Eddie Nketiah to poke home, but several desperate Cologne defenders throw themselves in the way. 7:48PM 88 mins Sehrou Guirassy gets a yellow card for a late challenge on Per Mertesacker. 7:46PM 84 mins Wilshere makes a jinking run forward and chips a pass towards Olivier Giroud, but it's just slightly overhit and the Frenchman can't get a header on goal. 7:43PM 83 mins Arsenal bring on League Cup hero Eddie Nketiah for Mathieu Debuchy. 7:42PM 82 mins Arsenal are sleepwalking to a loss to the bottom side in the Bundesliga, as things stand. It's a much-changed team but, still, a win for Cologne would be a blow to the pride of the players involved. 7:36PM 75 mins Great chance for Olivier Giroud, who makes a rare off-the-shoulder run and gets in one-on-one. Defender Jannes Horn and goalkeeper Timo Horn combine to keep him out. The former is down and in a bit of pain, having made an excellent last-ditch tackle and been caught on the shin by Giroud. Jannes and Timo Horn combine to stop Olivier Giroud Credit: Martin Meissner/AP 7:33PM 72 mins Cologne use their final substitution to bring off Yuya Osako for midfielder Matthias Lehmann. 7:28PM 67 mins Arsenal make another substitution, with Calum Chambers off for Reiss Nelson. 7:26PM 65 mins Another save for Timo Horn to make, this time a long-range fizzer from the boot of Jack Wilshere. Arsenal are ramping up the pressure but aren't making too many cutting-edge chances right now. 7:24PM 63 mins Chance for Mertesacker! The big German gets a header on target from a corner, but it's pushed out by Timo Horn. Olivier Giroud is inches away from converting on the rebound. Per Mertesacker gets his head to the ball Credit: Martin Meissner/AP 7:23PM GOAL! Cologne 1-0 Arsenal Cologne are ahead against the general run of play. That penalty decision will be a post-match talking point, with the challenge by Debuchy seeming fairly innocuous. 7:22PM 61 mins Penalty Cologne! Mathieu Debuchy tangles with Guirassy and the referee gives it, though it looks like a questionable decision. 7:20PM 59 mins Chance for Cologne, but Sehrou Guirassy doesn't make the most of it. A long ball falls kindly for the French forward, but he only half connects with the shot and David Ospina scoops it up gratefully. 7:17PM 56 mins It's a second substitution for Cologne, who bring off Jhon Cordoba for Pawel Olkowski. Can Cologne keep Arsenal from scoring this evening? Credit: Lukas Schulze/Getty Images 7:16PM 55 mins Iwobi combines with Wilshere and powers to the edge of the Cologne box, but his shot is blocked. 7:12PM 50 mins Maitland-Niles picks up where he left off, winning Arsenal a corner on the left. Elneny's delivery doesn't get past the first man. Not ideal. 7:09PM 48 mins The first yellow card of the match goes to Mathieu Debuchy after a needless foul on Sehrou Guirassy. 7:08PM Substitution for Arsenal Alex Iwobi is on for Danny Welbeck, who Arsene Wenger no doubt wants to protect from a recurrence of his most recent injury. 7:04PM Teams are back out ... for more Europa League football! Hooray! 6:53PM Half time Arsenal started to dominate as the half went on, with Ainsley Maitland-Niles their standout player and Francis Coquelin denied by the post. Cologne have shown very little threat going forwards, with toothlessness up front their main shortcoming as a side. Their defence has been passable, but can they hang on for another 45? Arsenal look to be well on top in Germany Credit: Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images 6:47PM 44 mins Elneny takes a long-distance shot which sails harmlessly into the stands. Let's have half time now, please. 6:45PM 42 mins Jack Wilshere wins a free kick in a promising position 30 yards out. Mohamed Elneny's airy delivery is punched away by Timo Horn. 6:44PM 41 mins Welbeck sets up the excellent Maitland-Niles but the youngster's shot rebounds off a wall of bodies. 6:41PM 37 mins Cologne are forced into a substitution after Olivier Giroud and Dominic Maroh come together in the box, with the latter seeming to pull his hamstring in the process. Maroh limps off and Konstantin Rausch comes on in his place. 6:36PM 31 mins Danny Welbeck is the latest Arsenal player to go close, curling a shot just past the far post from the left side of the area. The home side are walking on thin ice here. 6:33PM 29 mins Arsenal hit the post! Olivier Giroud chips a pass through to the onrushing Francis Coquelin, who blasts a shot off the upright and out for a goal kick. No goal, but it's been an enterprising performance from the defensive midfielder so far. Olivier Giroud is slowly playing his way into the game Credit: Maja Hitij/Getty Images 6:32PM 28 mins Ainsley Maitland-Niles again makes massive inroads on the left, lofting a cross straight to the boot of a teammate in front of goal. Sadly, that teammate is Calum Chambers. Timo Horn collects easily. 6:30PM 27 mins Japanese forward Yuya Osako takes a pot shot at David Ospina from long range, but slips over and sees his effort corkscrew horribly wide. That sums up the last ten minutes or so, really. Osako takes on Francis Coquelin Credit: Marius Becker/DPA 6:24PM 19 mins Arsenal have a shot on target and it's off the head of Jack Wilshere, believe it or not. It's straight at Timo Horn, unfortunately. 6:23PM 18 mins Maitland-Niles threads through Olivier Giroud to the left of the area, but the Frenchman gets his feet tangled and fails to make anything of the pass. Could it be one of those nights for Arsenal's No.12? 6:18PM 13 mins Close from Coquelin! Having failed to clear their lines after some messy passing in and around the box, Cologne gift Coquelin an opportunity to shoot from 25 yards. He goes surprisingly close, but his effort slams against the advertising boards. It would have been a turn up for the books had the Frenchman scored. Francis Coquelin in action Credit: Wolfgang Rattay/Reuters 6:15PM 11 mins Some lovely skill from Maitland-Niles almost sees him play a dangerous pass across the box, but he is muscled off the ball at the final second. 6:13PM 10 mins Things have quietened down a bit after a lively start to the game. Arsenal are seeing more of the ball, but only just. 6:09PM 5 mins First chance for the home side! Cologne striker Jhon Cordoba roars up the pitch and blasts at goal from a tight angle, forcing David Ospina into a full-stretch save. 6:04PM 2 mins Good early chance for Arsenal, with Welbeck and Wilshere combining well to send Ainsley Maitland-Niles away into the box. His angled shot is saved by Timo Horn, who confidently comes to collect the resulting corner. 6:01PM Minute's applause for Hans Schafer Schafer was Cologne's all-time top goalscorer and made 39 appearances for West Germany, winning the 1954 World Cup. He died earlier this month at 90 years of age. 5:59PM Teams are out ... and Cologne flags are fluttering in the stands. There's plenty of noise coming from the away fans, too, though the Arsenal contingent have a lot to live up to. Both sets of fans are in fine voice Credit: Maja Hitij/Getty Images 5:53PM Big night for the home fans Having suffered through a miserable start to the season, Cologne fans will no doubt want to enjoy another big European night against Premier League opposition. Will things be as wild as they were in London a couple of months ago? Maybe not, but the atmosphere is still bound to be mega. 5:42PM Cologne team news #effzeh will begin the match against @Arsenal with three strikers. Bench: Kessler, Olkowski, Risa, Lehmann, Rausch, Nartey, Bisseck #KOEAFC#ReturnoftheGOATpic.twitter.com/xKuEkY3xYD— 1. FC Cologne (@fckoeln_en) November 23, 2017 5:40PM Europa League Thursdays Coming off the back of a brilliant but no doubt exhausting victory in the North London derby last weekend, Arsenal have a very 'Europa League' flavour to their line-up tonight. Arsene Wenger has named an entirely different team for the trip to Cologne, with notable inclusions for Danny Welbeck, Olivier Giroud and Jack Wilshere in attack. An unfamiliar back three of Mathieu Debuchy, Per Mertesacker and Rob Holding should be interesting, with the defence now featuring that perfect blend of age, youth and extreme ponderousness. Calum Chambers at right wing-back should be similarly dubious in terms of pace – presuming Arsenal's pre-match graphic is accurate – though whether or not the Cologne attack will be able to take advantage is another question. Cologne are currently bottom of the Bundesliga with two points from 12 games, while they also sit bottom of Europa League Group H. They have scored four goals in the league all season which, let's face it, isn't great. Despite giving Arsenal a momentary scare with an early goal at the Emirates back in September, it would be a considerable upset if Cologne got anything from tonight's fixture. Wenger might have named a squad with one eye firmly on Arsenal's next game against Burnley, but the North Londoners should still come away with all three points at the RheinEnergieStadion – Calum Chambers at right wing-back or not. Arsene Wenger arrives at the RheinEnergieStadion Credit: Lukas Schulze/Getty Images 5:04PM Evening all Welcome to coverage of Arsenal's Europa League tie against Cologne, a match which sees the return of Danny Welbeck to first team action. Jack Wilshere also gets a chance to work his way back into Arsenal's Premier League plans with another strong performance in midfield. Here's the full Arsenal line-up: �� How we line up for tonight’s clash with @fckoeln... #COLvAFCpic.twitter.com/pz95afRnB5— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) November 23, 2017  

FC Cologne 1 Arsenal 0: Arsene Wenger's dreadful run in Germany continues with unexpected loss

After the champagne sparkle of that stirring victory over Tottenham Hotspur, this was the annoying hangover. Arsenal will go through as winners of Group H, in their first foray into the rebranded Europa League, but this was an unexpected, uninspiring performance which maintains Cologne’s hopes of joining them in the knock-out stage. Sehrou Guirassy’s second-half penalty inflicted a first defeat on Arsenal in Europe this season to ensure another miserable experience for Arsene Wenger on German soil. Wenger has now gone four games without a win in this country. BATE Borisov’s stalemate with Red Star Belgrade rendered this result largely irrelevant, but this was a world away from the thrilling win over Mauricio Pochettino last Saturday. Danny Welbeck played 45 minutes in his first appearance since the 2-1 defeat at Watford in October and looked sharp, while there was another encouraging performance from young winger Ainsley Maitland-Niles. But that was as good as it got, with the scenes of wild celebration at the end belonging to Cologne’s supporters, as they savoured a memorable night and only a second win at the RheinEnergieStadion this season. Danny Welbeck returned for Arsenal Credit: Reuters Wenger said: “You feel like you have done the job if you finish top of the group. I will tell you what it means after the draw, but finishing top is what we wanted. “We have lost a game here with their only shot on goal so that is disappointing. It is not a penalty at all and we missed a little bit in the final third. “We had plenty of dangerous situations but we always missed a little something to finish our chances. The pitch was a little handicap but I cannot fault the preparation or the concentration of the players.” There was a timely return for Welbeck, a striker anxious to make up for lost time, as Wenger made 11 changes to the starting XI that humbled Spurs. Welbeck’s hopes of being included in England’s squad for the World Cup next year are very much under threat after playing only one game in the last two months. Jack Wilshere makes a point to the ref Credit: Getty Images Gareth Southgate has a determination to utilise emerging talent while he also warned that players who do not play consistently for their club sides are in danger of missing out. Welbeck was clearly on a mission to make an impression before he was taken off at half-time as a precaution, ahead of Sunday’s trip to Burnley. “He was ready to stay on and frustrated to come off but he’s in good shape,” said Wenger. “It was planned before the game because we have three games coming up and medically it would have been a risk to play him for longer. He has no problem but he's been out for a while." Arsenal had secured qualification before this trip to western Germany but this was a typically mundane experience in the competition viewed as European football’s wooden spoon. In a lifeless first-half Arsenal came closest to taking the lead from the most unlikely of sources. Francis Coquelin is still waiting patiently for his first goal, nine years after making his debut, and nearly produced a Eureka moment on the half hour when unmarked in the box - but he struck the post from six yards. Sehrou Guirassy scores from the spot Credit: Reuters Cologne are currently the Bundesliga’s bottom club and their game plan was to use pace against an Arsenal back three not renowned for mobility but counter-attacks frequently collapsed, much to the frustration of a boisterous home support. Yet the crucial moment came just after the hour, when Mathieu Debuchy clumsily fouled Guirassy in the area. Guirassy, who had proved a sporadic menace, dispatched the penalty with ease and the noise was deafening, the two towers either side of the stand flashing red and white. Arsenal did respond, with Per Mertesacker and Jack Wilshere both forcing dramatic saves from Cologne goalkeeper Timo Horn. Reiss Nelson, an Arsenal substitute, also tested Horn as time ticked away before Wilshere was denied, again spectacularly, in added time. Yet Cologne secured the victory which sets up an intriguing final game against Red Star next month. 7:55PM Full time, Cologne nab the win Arsenal were the better side on the whole but Cologne did well to nick all three points. For the home side, it's a famous European win against one of the biggest clubs in England. For Arsenal, it's a mildly embarrassing result against the side rock bottom of the Bundesliga, though the North Londoners still top the group after Red Star Belgrade could only muster a draw with BATE Borisov. 7:52PM 90+2 mins Wilshere hits an absolute belter from 20 yards, but Timo Horn makes yet another good save. 7:50PM 89 mins Two great chances for Arsenal! First Reiss Nelson winds his way into the box and sees a close-range rocket saved by Timo Horn. Next, Wilshere crosses for Eddie Nketiah to poke home, but several desperate Cologne defenders throw themselves in the way. 7:48PM 88 mins Sehrou Guirassy gets a yellow card for a late challenge on Per Mertesacker. 7:46PM 84 mins Wilshere makes a jinking run forward and chips a pass towards Olivier Giroud, but it's just slightly overhit and the Frenchman can't get a header on goal. 7:43PM 83 mins Arsenal bring on League Cup hero Eddie Nketiah for Mathieu Debuchy. 7:42PM 82 mins Arsenal are sleepwalking to a loss to the bottom side in the Bundesliga, as things stand. It's a much-changed team but, still, a win for Cologne would be a blow to the pride of the players involved. 7:36PM 75 mins Great chance for Olivier Giroud, who makes a rare off-the-shoulder run and gets in one-on-one. Defender Jannes Horn and goalkeeper Timo Horn combine to keep him out. The former is down and in a bit of pain, having made an excellent last-ditch tackle and been caught on the shin by Giroud. Jannes and Timo Horn combine to stop Olivier Giroud Credit: Martin Meissner/AP 7:33PM 72 mins Cologne use their final substitution to bring off Yuya Osako for midfielder Matthias Lehmann. 7:28PM 67 mins Arsenal make another substitution, with Calum Chambers off for Reiss Nelson. 7:26PM 65 mins Another save for Timo Horn to make, this time a long-range fizzer from the boot of Jack Wilshere. Arsenal are ramping up the pressure but aren't making too many cutting-edge chances right now. 7:24PM 63 mins Chance for Mertesacker! The big German gets a header on target from a corner, but it's pushed out by Timo Horn. Olivier Giroud is inches away from converting on the rebound. Per Mertesacker gets his head to the ball Credit: Martin Meissner/AP 7:23PM GOAL! Cologne 1-0 Arsenal Cologne are ahead against the general run of play. That penalty decision will be a post-match talking point, with the challenge by Debuchy seeming fairly innocuous. 7:22PM 61 mins Penalty Cologne! Mathieu Debuchy tangles with Guirassy and the referee gives it, though it looks like a questionable decision. 7:20PM 59 mins Chance for Cologne, but Sehrou Guirassy doesn't make the most of it. A long ball falls kindly for the French forward, but he only half connects with the shot and David Ospina scoops it up gratefully. 7:17PM 56 mins It's a second substitution for Cologne, who bring off Jhon Cordoba for Pawel Olkowski. Can Cologne keep Arsenal from scoring this evening? Credit: Lukas Schulze/Getty Images 7:16PM 55 mins Iwobi combines with Wilshere and powers to the edge of the Cologne box, but his shot is blocked. 7:12PM 50 mins Maitland-Niles picks up where he left off, winning Arsenal a corner on the left. Elneny's delivery doesn't get past the first man. Not ideal. 7:09PM 48 mins The first yellow card of the match goes to Mathieu Debuchy after a needless foul on Sehrou Guirassy. 7:08PM Substitution for Arsenal Alex Iwobi is on for Danny Welbeck, who Arsene Wenger no doubt wants to protect from a recurrence of his most recent injury. 7:04PM Teams are back out ... for more Europa League football! Hooray! 6:53PM Half time Arsenal started to dominate as the half went on, with Ainsley Maitland-Niles their standout player and Francis Coquelin denied by the post. Cologne have shown very little threat going forwards, with toothlessness up front their main shortcoming as a side. Their defence has been passable, but can they hang on for another 45? Arsenal look to be well on top in Germany Credit: Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images 6:47PM 44 mins Elneny takes a long-distance shot which sails harmlessly into the stands. Let's have half time now, please. 6:45PM 42 mins Jack Wilshere wins a free kick in a promising position 30 yards out. Mohamed Elneny's airy delivery is punched away by Timo Horn. 6:44PM 41 mins Welbeck sets up the excellent Maitland-Niles but the youngster's shot rebounds off a wall of bodies. 6:41PM 37 mins Cologne are forced into a substitution after Olivier Giroud and Dominic Maroh come together in the box, with the latter seeming to pull his hamstring in the process. Maroh limps off and Konstantin Rausch comes on in his place. 6:36PM 31 mins Danny Welbeck is the latest Arsenal player to go close, curling a shot just past the far post from the left side of the area. The home side are walking on thin ice here. 6:33PM 29 mins Arsenal hit the post! Olivier Giroud chips a pass through to the onrushing Francis Coquelin, who blasts a shot off the upright and out for a goal kick. No goal, but it's been an enterprising performance from the defensive midfielder so far. Olivier Giroud is slowly playing his way into the game Credit: Maja Hitij/Getty Images 6:32PM 28 mins Ainsley Maitland-Niles again makes massive inroads on the left, lofting a cross straight to the boot of a teammate in front of goal. Sadly, that teammate is Calum Chambers. Timo Horn collects easily. 6:30PM 27 mins Japanese forward Yuya Osako takes a pot shot at David Ospina from long range, but slips over and sees his effort corkscrew horribly wide. That sums up the last ten minutes or so, really. Osako takes on Francis Coquelin Credit: Marius Becker/DPA 6:24PM 19 mins Arsenal have a shot on target and it's off the head of Jack Wilshere, believe it or not. It's straight at Timo Horn, unfortunately. 6:23PM 18 mins Maitland-Niles threads through Olivier Giroud to the left of the area, but the Frenchman gets his feet tangled and fails to make anything of the pass. Could it be one of those nights for Arsenal's No.12? 6:18PM 13 mins Close from Coquelin! Having failed to clear their lines after some messy passing in and around the box, Cologne gift Coquelin an opportunity to shoot from 25 yards. He goes surprisingly close, but his effort slams against the advertising boards. It would have been a turn up for the books had the Frenchman scored. Francis Coquelin in action Credit: Wolfgang Rattay/Reuters 6:15PM 11 mins Some lovely skill from Maitland-Niles almost sees him play a dangerous pass across the box, but he is muscled off the ball at the final second. 6:13PM 10 mins Things have quietened down a bit after a lively start to the game. Arsenal are seeing more of the ball, but only just. 6:09PM 5 mins First chance for the home side! Cologne striker Jhon Cordoba roars up the pitch and blasts at goal from a tight angle, forcing David Ospina into a full-stretch save. 6:04PM 2 mins Good early chance for Arsenal, with Welbeck and Wilshere combining well to send Ainsley Maitland-Niles away into the box. His angled shot is saved by Timo Horn, who confidently comes to collect the resulting corner. 6:01PM Minute's applause for Hans Schafer Schafer was Cologne's all-time top goalscorer and made 39 appearances for West Germany, winning the 1954 World Cup. He died earlier this month at 90 years of age. 5:59PM Teams are out ... and Cologne flags are fluttering in the stands. There's plenty of noise coming from the away fans, too, though the Arsenal contingent have a lot to live up to. Both sets of fans are in fine voice Credit: Maja Hitij/Getty Images 5:53PM Big night for the home fans Having suffered through a miserable start to the season, Cologne fans will no doubt want to enjoy another big European night against Premier League opposition. Will things be as wild as they were in London a couple of months ago? Maybe not, but the atmosphere is still bound to be mega. 5:42PM Cologne team news #effzeh will begin the match against @Arsenal with three strikers. Bench: Kessler, Olkowski, Risa, Lehmann, Rausch, Nartey, Bisseck #KOEAFC#ReturnoftheGOATpic.twitter.com/xKuEkY3xYD— 1. FC Cologne (@fckoeln_en) November 23, 2017 5:40PM Europa League Thursdays Coming off the back of a brilliant but no doubt exhausting victory in the North London derby last weekend, Arsenal have a very 'Europa League' flavour to their line-up tonight. Arsene Wenger has named an entirely different team for the trip to Cologne, with notable inclusions for Danny Welbeck, Olivier Giroud and Jack Wilshere in attack. An unfamiliar back three of Mathieu Debuchy, Per Mertesacker and Rob Holding should be interesting, with the defence now featuring that perfect blend of age, youth and extreme ponderousness. Calum Chambers at right wing-back should be similarly dubious in terms of pace – presuming Arsenal's pre-match graphic is accurate – though whether or not the Cologne attack will be able to take advantage is another question. Cologne are currently bottom of the Bundesliga with two points from 12 games, while they also sit bottom of Europa League Group H. They have scored four goals in the league all season which, let's face it, isn't great. Despite giving Arsenal a momentary scare with an early goal at the Emirates back in September, it would be a considerable upset if Cologne got anything from tonight's fixture. Wenger might have named a squad with one eye firmly on Arsenal's next game against Burnley, but the North Londoners should still come away with all three points at the RheinEnergieStadion – Calum Chambers at right wing-back or not. Arsene Wenger arrives at the RheinEnergieStadion Credit: Lukas Schulze/Getty Images 5:04PM Evening all Welcome to coverage of Arsenal's Europa League tie against Cologne, a match which sees the return of Danny Welbeck to first team action. Jack Wilshere also gets a chance to work his way back into Arsenal's Premier League plans with another strong performance in midfield. Here's the full Arsenal line-up: �� How we line up for tonight’s clash with @fckoeln... #COLvAFCpic.twitter.com/pz95afRnB5— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) November 23, 2017  

FC Cologne 1 Arsenal 0: Arsene Wenger's dreadful run in Germany continues with unexpected loss

After the champagne sparkle of that stirring victory over Tottenham Hotspur, this was the annoying hangover. Arsenal will go through as winners of Group H, in their first foray into the rebranded Europa League, but this was an unexpected, uninspiring performance which maintains Cologne’s hopes of joining them in the knock-out stage. Sehrou Guirassy’s second-half penalty inflicted a first defeat on Arsenal in Europe this season to ensure another miserable experience for Arsene Wenger on German soil. Wenger has now gone four games without a win in this country. BATE Borisov’s stalemate with Red Star Belgrade rendered this result largely irrelevant, but this was a world away from the thrilling win over Mauricio Pochettino last Saturday. Danny Welbeck played 45 minutes in his first appearance since the 2-1 defeat at Watford in October and looked sharp, while there was another encouraging performance from young winger Ainsley Maitland-Niles. But that was as good as it got, with the scenes of wild celebration at the end belonging to Cologne’s supporters, as they savoured a memorable night and only a second win at the RheinEnergieStadion this season. Danny Welbeck returned for Arsenal Credit: Reuters Wenger said: “You feel like you have done the job if you finish top of the group. I will tell you what it means after the draw, but finishing top is what we wanted. “We have lost a game here with their only shot on goal so that is disappointing. It is not a penalty at all and we missed a little bit in the final third. “We had plenty of dangerous situations but we always missed a little something to finish our chances. The pitch was a little handicap but I cannot fault the preparation or the concentration of the players.” There was a timely return for Welbeck, a striker anxious to make up for lost time, as Wenger made 11 changes to the starting XI that humbled Spurs. Welbeck’s hopes of being included in England’s squad for the World Cup next year are very much under threat after playing only one game in the last two months. Jack Wilshere makes a point to the ref Credit: Getty Images Gareth Southgate has a determination to utilise emerging talent while he also warned that players who do not play consistently for their club sides are in danger of missing out. Welbeck was clearly on a mission to make an impression before he was taken off at half-time as a precaution, ahead of Sunday’s trip to Burnley. “He was ready to stay on and frustrated to come off but he’s in good shape,” said Wenger. “It was planned before the game because we have three games coming up and medically it would have been a risk to play him for longer. He has no problem but he's been out for a while." Arsenal had secured qualification before this trip to western Germany but this was a typically mundane experience in the competition viewed as European football’s wooden spoon. In a lifeless first-half Arsenal came closest to taking the lead from the most unlikely of sources. Francis Coquelin is still waiting patiently for his first goal, nine years after making his debut, and nearly produced a Eureka moment on the half hour when unmarked in the box - but he struck the post from six yards. Sehrou Guirassy scores from the spot Credit: Reuters Cologne are currently the Bundesliga’s bottom club and their game plan was to use pace against an Arsenal back three not renowned for mobility but counter-attacks frequently collapsed, much to the frustration of a boisterous home support. Yet the crucial moment came just after the hour, when Mathieu Debuchy clumsily fouled Guirassy in the area. Guirassy, who had proved a sporadic menace, dispatched the penalty with ease and the noise was deafening, the two towers either side of the stand flashing red and white. Arsenal did respond, with Per Mertesacker and Jack Wilshere both forcing dramatic saves from Cologne goalkeeper Timo Horn. Reiss Nelson, an Arsenal substitute, also tested Horn as time ticked away before Wilshere was denied, again spectacularly, in added time. Yet Cologne secured the victory which sets up an intriguing final game against Red Star next month. 7:55PM Full time, Cologne nab the win Arsenal were the better side on the whole but Cologne did well to nick all three points. For the home side, it's a famous European win against one of the biggest clubs in England. For Arsenal, it's a mildly embarrassing result against the side rock bottom of the Bundesliga, though the North Londoners still top the group after Red Star Belgrade could only muster a draw with BATE Borisov. 7:52PM 90+2 mins Wilshere hits an absolute belter from 20 yards, but Timo Horn makes yet another good save. 7:50PM 89 mins Two great chances for Arsenal! First Reiss Nelson winds his way into the box and sees a close-range rocket saved by Timo Horn. Next, Wilshere crosses for Eddie Nketiah to poke home, but several desperate Cologne defenders throw themselves in the way. 7:48PM 88 mins Sehrou Guirassy gets a yellow card for a late challenge on Per Mertesacker. 7:46PM 84 mins Wilshere makes a jinking run forward and chips a pass towards Olivier Giroud, but it's just slightly overhit and the Frenchman can't get a header on goal. 7:43PM 83 mins Arsenal bring on League Cup hero Eddie Nketiah for Mathieu Debuchy. 7:42PM 82 mins Arsenal are sleepwalking to a loss to the bottom side in the Bundesliga, as things stand. It's a much-changed team but, still, a win for Cologne would be a blow to the pride of the players involved. 7:36PM 75 mins Great chance for Olivier Giroud, who makes a rare off-the-shoulder run and gets in one-on-one. Defender Jannes Horn and goalkeeper Timo Horn combine to keep him out. The former is down and in a bit of pain, having made an excellent last-ditch tackle and been caught on the shin by Giroud. Jannes and Timo Horn combine to stop Olivier Giroud Credit: Martin Meissner/AP 7:33PM 72 mins Cologne use their final substitution to bring off Yuya Osako for midfielder Matthias Lehmann. 7:28PM 67 mins Arsenal make another substitution, with Calum Chambers off for Reiss Nelson. 7:26PM 65 mins Another save for Timo Horn to make, this time a long-range fizzer from the boot of Jack Wilshere. Arsenal are ramping up the pressure but aren't making too many cutting-edge chances right now. 7:24PM 63 mins Chance for Mertesacker! The big German gets a header on target from a corner, but it's pushed out by Timo Horn. Olivier Giroud is inches away from converting on the rebound. Per Mertesacker gets his head to the ball Credit: Martin Meissner/AP 7:23PM GOAL! Cologne 1-0 Arsenal Cologne are ahead against the general run of play. That penalty decision will be a post-match talking point, with the challenge by Debuchy seeming fairly innocuous. 7:22PM 61 mins Penalty Cologne! Mathieu Debuchy tangles with Guirassy and the referee gives it, though it looks like a questionable decision. 7:20PM 59 mins Chance for Cologne, but Sehrou Guirassy doesn't make the most of it. A long ball falls kindly for the French forward, but he only half connects with the shot and David Ospina scoops it up gratefully. 7:17PM 56 mins It's a second substitution for Cologne, who bring off Jhon Cordoba for Pawel Olkowski. Can Cologne keep Arsenal from scoring this evening? Credit: Lukas Schulze/Getty Images 7:16PM 55 mins Iwobi combines with Wilshere and powers to the edge of the Cologne box, but his shot is blocked. 7:12PM 50 mins Maitland-Niles picks up where he left off, winning Arsenal a corner on the left. Elneny's delivery doesn't get past the first man. Not ideal. 7:09PM 48 mins The first yellow card of the match goes to Mathieu Debuchy after a needless foul on Sehrou Guirassy. 7:08PM Substitution for Arsenal Alex Iwobi is on for Danny Welbeck, who Arsene Wenger no doubt wants to protect from a recurrence of his most recent injury. 7:04PM Teams are back out ... for more Europa League football! Hooray! 6:53PM Half time Arsenal started to dominate as the half went on, with Ainsley Maitland-Niles their standout player and Francis Coquelin denied by the post. Cologne have shown very little threat going forwards, with toothlessness up front their main shortcoming as a side. Their defence has been passable, but can they hang on for another 45? Arsenal look to be well on top in Germany Credit: Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images 6:47PM 44 mins Elneny takes a long-distance shot which sails harmlessly into the stands. Let's have half time now, please. 6:45PM 42 mins Jack Wilshere wins a free kick in a promising position 30 yards out. Mohamed Elneny's airy delivery is punched away by Timo Horn. 6:44PM 41 mins Welbeck sets up the excellent Maitland-Niles but the youngster's shot rebounds off a wall of bodies. 6:41PM 37 mins Cologne are forced into a substitution after Olivier Giroud and Dominic Maroh come together in the box, with the latter seeming to pull his hamstring in the process. Maroh limps off and Konstantin Rausch comes on in his place. 6:36PM 31 mins Danny Welbeck is the latest Arsenal player to go close, curling a shot just past the far post from the left side of the area. The home side are walking on thin ice here. 6:33PM 29 mins Arsenal hit the post! Olivier Giroud chips a pass through to the onrushing Francis Coquelin, who blasts a shot off the upright and out for a goal kick. No goal, but it's been an enterprising performance from the defensive midfielder so far. Olivier Giroud is slowly playing his way into the game Credit: Maja Hitij/Getty Images 6:32PM 28 mins Ainsley Maitland-Niles again makes massive inroads on the left, lofting a cross straight to the boot of a teammate in front of goal. Sadly, that teammate is Calum Chambers. Timo Horn collects easily. 6:30PM 27 mins Japanese forward Yuya Osako takes a pot shot at David Ospina from long range, but slips over and sees his effort corkscrew horribly wide. That sums up the last ten minutes or so, really. Osako takes on Francis Coquelin Credit: Marius Becker/DPA 6:24PM 19 mins Arsenal have a shot on target and it's off the head of Jack Wilshere, believe it or not. It's straight at Timo Horn, unfortunately. 6:23PM 18 mins Maitland-Niles threads through Olivier Giroud to the left of the area, but the Frenchman gets his feet tangled and fails to make anything of the pass. Could it be one of those nights for Arsenal's No.12? 6:18PM 13 mins Close from Coquelin! Having failed to clear their lines after some messy passing in and around the box, Cologne gift Coquelin an opportunity to shoot from 25 yards. He goes surprisingly close, but his effort slams against the advertising boards. It would have been a turn up for the books had the Frenchman scored. Francis Coquelin in action Credit: Wolfgang Rattay/Reuters 6:15PM 11 mins Some lovely skill from Maitland-Niles almost sees him play a dangerous pass across the box, but he is muscled off the ball at the final second. 6:13PM 10 mins Things have quietened down a bit after a lively start to the game. Arsenal are seeing more of the ball, but only just. 6:09PM 5 mins First chance for the home side! Cologne striker Jhon Cordoba roars up the pitch and blasts at goal from a tight angle, forcing David Ospina into a full-stretch save. 6:04PM 2 mins Good early chance for Arsenal, with Welbeck and Wilshere combining well to send Ainsley Maitland-Niles away into the box. His angled shot is saved by Timo Horn, who confidently comes to collect the resulting corner. 6:01PM Minute's applause for Hans Schafer Schafer was Cologne's all-time top goalscorer and made 39 appearances for West Germany, winning the 1954 World Cup. He died earlier this month at 90 years of age. 5:59PM Teams are out ... and Cologne flags are fluttering in the stands. There's plenty of noise coming from the away fans, too, though the Arsenal contingent have a lot to live up to. Both sets of fans are in fine voice Credit: Maja Hitij/Getty Images 5:53PM Big night for the home fans Having suffered through a miserable start to the season, Cologne fans will no doubt want to enjoy another big European night against Premier League opposition. Will things be as wild as they were in London a couple of months ago? Maybe not, but the atmosphere is still bound to be mega. 5:42PM Cologne team news #effzeh will begin the match against @Arsenal with three strikers. Bench: Kessler, Olkowski, Risa, Lehmann, Rausch, Nartey, Bisseck #KOEAFC#ReturnoftheGOATpic.twitter.com/xKuEkY3xYD— 1. FC Cologne (@fckoeln_en) November 23, 2017 5:40PM Europa League Thursdays Coming off the back of a brilliant but no doubt exhausting victory in the North London derby last weekend, Arsenal have a very 'Europa League' flavour to their line-up tonight. Arsene Wenger has named an entirely different team for the trip to Cologne, with notable inclusions for Danny Welbeck, Olivier Giroud and Jack Wilshere in attack. An unfamiliar back three of Mathieu Debuchy, Per Mertesacker and Rob Holding should be interesting, with the defence now featuring that perfect blend of age, youth and extreme ponderousness. Calum Chambers at right wing-back should be similarly dubious in terms of pace – presuming Arsenal's pre-match graphic is accurate – though whether or not the Cologne attack will be able to take advantage is another question. Cologne are currently bottom of the Bundesliga with two points from 12 games, while they also sit bottom of Europa League Group H. They have scored four goals in the league all season which, let's face it, isn't great. Despite giving Arsenal a momentary scare with an early goal at the Emirates back in September, it would be a considerable upset if Cologne got anything from tonight's fixture. Wenger might have named a squad with one eye firmly on Arsenal's next game against Burnley, but the North Londoners should still come away with all three points at the RheinEnergieStadion – Calum Chambers at right wing-back or not. Arsene Wenger arrives at the RheinEnergieStadion Credit: Lukas Schulze/Getty Images 5:04PM Evening all Welcome to coverage of Arsenal's Europa League tie against Cologne, a match which sees the return of Danny Welbeck to first team action. Jack Wilshere also gets a chance to work his way back into Arsenal's Premier League plans with another strong performance in midfield. Here's the full Arsenal line-up: �� How we line up for tonight’s clash with @fckoeln... #COLvAFCpic.twitter.com/pz95afRnB5— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) November 23, 2017  

FC Cologne 1 Arsenal 0: Arsene Wenger's dreadful run in Germany continues with unexpected loss

After the champagne sparkle of that stirring victory over Tottenham Hotspur, this was the annoying hangover. Arsenal will go through as winners of Group H, in their first foray into the rebranded Europa League, but this was an unexpected, uninspiring performance which maintains Cologne’s hopes of joining them in the knock-out stage. Sehrou Guirassy’s second-half penalty inflicted a first defeat on Arsenal in Europe this season to ensure another miserable experience for Arsene Wenger on German soil. Wenger has now gone four games without a win in this country. BATE Borisov’s stalemate with Red Star Belgrade rendered this result largely irrelevant, but this was a world away from the thrilling win over Mauricio Pochettino last Saturday. Danny Welbeck played 45 minutes in his first appearance since the 2-1 defeat at Watford in October and looked sharp, while there was another encouraging performance from young winger Ainsley Maitland-Niles. But that was as good as it got, with the scenes of wild celebration at the end belonging to Cologne’s supporters, as they savoured a memorable night and only a second win at the RheinEnergieStadion this season. Danny Welbeck returned for Arsenal Credit: Reuters Wenger said: “You feel like you have done the job if you finish top of the group. I will tell you what it means after the draw, but finishing top is what we wanted. “We have lost a game here with their only shot on goal so that is disappointing. It is not a penalty at all and we missed a little bit in the final third. “We had plenty of dangerous situations but we always missed a little something to finish our chances. The pitch was a little handicap but I cannot fault the preparation or the concentration of the players.” There was a timely return for Welbeck, a striker anxious to make up for lost time, as Wenger made 11 changes to the starting XI that humbled Spurs. Welbeck’s hopes of being included in England’s squad for the World Cup next year are very much under threat after playing only one game in the last two months. Jack Wilshere makes a point to the ref Credit: Getty Images Gareth Southgate has a determination to utilise emerging talent while he also warned that players who do not play consistently for their club sides are in danger of missing out. Welbeck was clearly on a mission to make an impression before he was taken off at half-time as a precaution, ahead of Sunday’s trip to Burnley. “He was ready to stay on and frustrated to come off but he’s in good shape,” said Wenger. “It was planned before the game because we have three games coming up and medically it would have been a risk to play him for longer. He has no problem but he's been out for a while." Arsenal had secured qualification before this trip to western Germany but this was a typically mundane experience in the competition viewed as European football’s wooden spoon. In a lifeless first-half Arsenal came closest to taking the lead from the most unlikely of sources. Francis Coquelin is still waiting patiently for his first goal, nine years after making his debut, and nearly produced a Eureka moment on the half hour when unmarked in the box - but he struck the post from six yards. Sehrou Guirassy scores from the spot Credit: Reuters Cologne are currently the Bundesliga’s bottom club and their game plan was to use pace against an Arsenal back three not renowned for mobility but counter-attacks frequently collapsed, much to the frustration of a boisterous home support. Yet the crucial moment came just after the hour, when Mathieu Debuchy clumsily fouled Guirassy in the area. Guirassy, who had proved a sporadic menace, dispatched the penalty with ease and the noise was deafening, the two towers either side of the stand flashing red and white. Arsenal did respond, with Per Mertesacker and Jack Wilshere both forcing dramatic saves from Cologne goalkeeper Timo Horn. Reiss Nelson, an Arsenal substitute, also tested Horn as time ticked away before Wilshere was denied, again spectacularly, in added time. Yet Cologne secured the victory which sets up an intriguing final game against Red Star next month. 7:55PM Full time, Cologne nab the win Arsenal were the better side on the whole but Cologne did well to nick all three points. For the home side, it's a famous European win against one of the biggest clubs in England. For Arsenal, it's a mildly embarrassing result against the side rock bottom of the Bundesliga, though the North Londoners still top the group after Red Star Belgrade could only muster a draw with BATE Borisov. 7:52PM 90+2 mins Wilshere hits an absolute belter from 20 yards, but Timo Horn makes yet another good save. 7:50PM 89 mins Two great chances for Arsenal! First Reiss Nelson winds his way into the box and sees a close-range rocket saved by Timo Horn. Next, Wilshere crosses for Eddie Nketiah to poke home, but several desperate Cologne defenders throw themselves in the way. 7:48PM 88 mins Sehrou Guirassy gets a yellow card for a late challenge on Per Mertesacker. 7:46PM 84 mins Wilshere makes a jinking run forward and chips a pass towards Olivier Giroud, but it's just slightly overhit and the Frenchman can't get a header on goal. 7:43PM 83 mins Arsenal bring on League Cup hero Eddie Nketiah for Mathieu Debuchy. 7:42PM 82 mins Arsenal are sleepwalking to a loss to the bottom side in the Bundesliga, as things stand. It's a much-changed team but, still, a win for Cologne would be a blow to the pride of the players involved. 7:36PM 75 mins Great chance for Olivier Giroud, who makes a rare off-the-shoulder run and gets in one-on-one. Defender Jannes Horn and goalkeeper Timo Horn combine to keep him out. The former is down and in a bit of pain, having made an excellent last-ditch tackle and been caught on the shin by Giroud. Jannes and Timo Horn combine to stop Olivier Giroud Credit: Martin Meissner/AP 7:33PM 72 mins Cologne use their final substitution to bring off Yuya Osako for midfielder Matthias Lehmann. 7:28PM 67 mins Arsenal make another substitution, with Calum Chambers off for Reiss Nelson. 7:26PM 65 mins Another save for Timo Horn to make, this time a long-range fizzer from the boot of Jack Wilshere. Arsenal are ramping up the pressure but aren't making too many cutting-edge chances right now. 7:24PM 63 mins Chance for Mertesacker! The big German gets a header on target from a corner, but it's pushed out by Timo Horn. Olivier Giroud is inches away from converting on the rebound. Per Mertesacker gets his head to the ball Credit: Martin Meissner/AP 7:23PM GOAL! Cologne 1-0 Arsenal Cologne are ahead against the general run of play. That penalty decision will be a post-match talking point, with the challenge by Debuchy seeming fairly innocuous. 7:22PM 61 mins Penalty Cologne! Mathieu Debuchy tangles with Guirassy and the referee gives it, though it looks like a questionable decision. 7:20PM 59 mins Chance for Cologne, but Sehrou Guirassy doesn't make the most of it. A long ball falls kindly for the French forward, but he only half connects with the shot and David Ospina scoops it up gratefully. 7:17PM 56 mins It's a second substitution for Cologne, who bring off Jhon Cordoba for Pawel Olkowski. Can Cologne keep Arsenal from scoring this evening? Credit: Lukas Schulze/Getty Images 7:16PM 55 mins Iwobi combines with Wilshere and powers to the edge of the Cologne box, but his shot is blocked. 7:12PM 50 mins Maitland-Niles picks up where he left off, winning Arsenal a corner on the left. Elneny's delivery doesn't get past the first man. Not ideal. 7:09PM 48 mins The first yellow card of the match goes to Mathieu Debuchy after a needless foul on Sehrou Guirassy. 7:08PM Substitution for Arsenal Alex Iwobi is on for Danny Welbeck, who Arsene Wenger no doubt wants to protect from a recurrence of his most recent injury. 7:04PM Teams are back out ... for more Europa League football! Hooray! 6:53PM Half time Arsenal started to dominate as the half went on, with Ainsley Maitland-Niles their standout player and Francis Coquelin denied by the post. Cologne have shown very little threat going forwards, with toothlessness up front their main shortcoming as a side. Their defence has been passable, but can they hang on for another 45? Arsenal look to be well on top in Germany Credit: Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images 6:47PM 44 mins Elneny takes a long-distance shot which sails harmlessly into the stands. Let's have half time now, please. 6:45PM 42 mins Jack Wilshere wins a free kick in a promising position 30 yards out. Mohamed Elneny's airy delivery is punched away by Timo Horn. 6:44PM 41 mins Welbeck sets up the excellent Maitland-Niles but the youngster's shot rebounds off a wall of bodies. 6:41PM 37 mins Cologne are forced into a substitution after Olivier Giroud and Dominic Maroh come together in the box, with the latter seeming to pull his hamstring in the process. Maroh limps off and Konstantin Rausch comes on in his place. 6:36PM 31 mins Danny Welbeck is the latest Arsenal player to go close, curling a shot just past the far post from the left side of the area. The home side are walking on thin ice here. 6:33PM 29 mins Arsenal hit the post! Olivier Giroud chips a pass through to the onrushing Francis Coquelin, who blasts a shot off the upright and out for a goal kick. No goal, but it's been an enterprising performance from the defensive midfielder so far. Olivier Giroud is slowly playing his way into the game Credit: Maja Hitij/Getty Images 6:32PM 28 mins Ainsley Maitland-Niles again makes massive inroads on the left, lofting a cross straight to the boot of a teammate in front of goal. Sadly, that teammate is Calum Chambers. Timo Horn collects easily. 6:30PM 27 mins Japanese forward Yuya Osako takes a pot shot at David Ospina from long range, but slips over and sees his effort corkscrew horribly wide. That sums up the last ten minutes or so, really. Osako takes on Francis Coquelin Credit: Marius Becker/DPA 6:24PM 19 mins Arsenal have a shot on target and it's off the head of Jack Wilshere, believe it or not. It's straight at Timo Horn, unfortunately. 6:23PM 18 mins Maitland-Niles threads through Olivier Giroud to the left of the area, but the Frenchman gets his feet tangled and fails to make anything of the pass. Could it be one of those nights for Arsenal's No.12? 6:18PM 13 mins Close from Coquelin! Having failed to clear their lines after some messy passing in and around the box, Cologne gift Coquelin an opportunity to shoot from 25 yards. He goes surprisingly close, but his effort slams against the advertising boards. It would have been a turn up for the books had the Frenchman scored. Francis Coquelin in action Credit: Wolfgang Rattay/Reuters 6:15PM 11 mins Some lovely skill from Maitland-Niles almost sees him play a dangerous pass across the box, but he is muscled off the ball at the final second. 6:13PM 10 mins Things have quietened down a bit after a lively start to the game. Arsenal are seeing more of the ball, but only just. 6:09PM 5 mins First chance for the home side! Cologne striker Jhon Cordoba roars up the pitch and blasts at goal from a tight angle, forcing David Ospina into a full-stretch save. 6:04PM 2 mins Good early chance for Arsenal, with Welbeck and Wilshere combining well to send Ainsley Maitland-Niles away into the box. His angled shot is saved by Timo Horn, who confidently comes to collect the resulting corner. 6:01PM Minute's applause for Hans Schafer Schafer was Cologne's all-time top goalscorer and made 39 appearances for West Germany, winning the 1954 World Cup. He died earlier this month at 90 years of age. 5:59PM Teams are out ... and Cologne flags are fluttering in the stands. There's plenty of noise coming from the away fans, too, though the Arsenal contingent have a lot to live up to. Both sets of fans are in fine voice Credit: Maja Hitij/Getty Images 5:53PM Big night for the home fans Having suffered through a miserable start to the season, Cologne fans will no doubt want to enjoy another big European night against Premier League opposition. Will things be as wild as they were in London a couple of months ago? Maybe not, but the atmosphere is still bound to be mega. 5:42PM Cologne team news #effzeh will begin the match against @Arsenal with three strikers. Bench: Kessler, Olkowski, Risa, Lehmann, Rausch, Nartey, Bisseck #KOEAFC#ReturnoftheGOATpic.twitter.com/xKuEkY3xYD— 1. FC Cologne (@fckoeln_en) November 23, 2017 5:40PM Europa League Thursdays Coming off the back of a brilliant but no doubt exhausting victory in the North London derby last weekend, Arsenal have a very 'Europa League' flavour to their line-up tonight. Arsene Wenger has named an entirely different team for the trip to Cologne, with notable inclusions for Danny Welbeck, Olivier Giroud and Jack Wilshere in attack. An unfamiliar back three of Mathieu Debuchy, Per Mertesacker and Rob Holding should be interesting, with the defence now featuring that perfect blend of age, youth and extreme ponderousness. Calum Chambers at right wing-back should be similarly dubious in terms of pace – presuming Arsenal's pre-match graphic is accurate – though whether or not the Cologne attack will be able to take advantage is another question. Cologne are currently bottom of the Bundesliga with two points from 12 games, while they also sit bottom of Europa League Group H. They have scored four goals in the league all season which, let's face it, isn't great. Despite giving Arsenal a momentary scare with an early goal at the Emirates back in September, it would be a considerable upset if Cologne got anything from tonight's fixture. Wenger might have named a squad with one eye firmly on Arsenal's next game against Burnley, but the North Londoners should still come away with all three points at the RheinEnergieStadion – Calum Chambers at right wing-back or not. Arsene Wenger arrives at the RheinEnergieStadion Credit: Lukas Schulze/Getty Images 5:04PM Evening all Welcome to coverage of Arsenal's Europa League tie against Cologne, a match which sees the return of Danny Welbeck to first team action. Jack Wilshere also gets a chance to work his way back into Arsenal's Premier League plans with another strong performance in midfield. Here's the full Arsenal line-up: �� How we line up for tonight’s clash with @fckoeln... #COLvAFCpic.twitter.com/pz95afRnB5— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) November 23, 2017  

FC Cologne 1 Arsenal 0: Arsene Wenger's dreadful run in Germany continues with unexpected loss

After the champagne sparkle of that stirring victory over Tottenham Hotspur, this was the annoying hangover. Arsenal will go through as winners of Group H, in their first foray into the rebranded Europa League, but this was an unexpected, uninspiring performance which maintains Cologne’s hopes of joining them in the knock-out stage. Sehrou Guirassy’s second-half penalty inflicted a first defeat on Arsenal in Europe this season to ensure another miserable experience for Arsene Wenger on German soil. Wenger has now gone four games without a win in this country. BATE Borisov’s stalemate with Red Star Belgrade rendered this result largely irrelevant, but this was a world away from the thrilling win over Mauricio Pochettino last Saturday. Danny Welbeck played 45 minutes in his first appearance since the 2-1 defeat at Watford in October and looked sharp, while there was another encouraging performance from young winger Ainsley Maitland-Niles. But that was as good as it got, with the scenes of wild celebration at the end belonging to Cologne’s supporters, as they savoured a memorable night and only a second win at the RheinEnergieStadion this season. Danny Welbeck returned for Arsenal Credit: Reuters Wenger said: “You feel like you have done the job if you finish top of the group. I will tell you what it means after the draw, but finishing top is what we wanted. “We have lost a game here with their only shot on goal so that is disappointing. It is not a penalty at all and we missed a little bit in the final third. “We had plenty of dangerous situations but we always missed a little something to finish our chances. The pitch was a little handicap but I cannot fault the preparation or the concentration of the players.” There was a timely return for Welbeck, a striker anxious to make up for lost time, as Wenger made 11 changes to the starting XI that humbled Spurs. Welbeck’s hopes of being included in England’s squad for the World Cup next year are very much under threat after playing only one game in the last two months. Jack Wilshere makes a point to the ref Credit: Getty Images Gareth Southgate has a determination to utilise emerging talent while he also warned that players who do not play consistently for their club sides are in danger of missing out. Welbeck was clearly on a mission to make an impression before he was taken off at half-time as a precaution, ahead of Sunday’s trip to Burnley. “He was ready to stay on and frustrated to come off but he’s in good shape,” said Wenger. “It was planned before the game because we have three games coming up and medically it would have been a risk to play him for longer. He has no problem but he's been out for a while." Arsenal had secured qualification before this trip to western Germany but this was a typically mundane experience in the competition viewed as European football’s wooden spoon. In a lifeless first-half Arsenal came closest to taking the lead from the most unlikely of sources. Francis Coquelin is still waiting patiently for his first goal, nine years after making his debut, and nearly produced a Eureka moment on the half hour when unmarked in the box - but he struck the post from six yards. Sehrou Guirassy scores from the spot Credit: Reuters Cologne are currently the Bundesliga’s bottom club and their game plan was to use pace against an Arsenal back three not renowned for mobility but counter-attacks frequently collapsed, much to the frustration of a boisterous home support. Yet the crucial moment came just after the hour, when Mathieu Debuchy clumsily fouled Guirassy in the area. Guirassy, who had proved a sporadic menace, dispatched the penalty with ease and the noise was deafening, the two towers either side of the stand flashing red and white. Arsenal did respond, with Per Mertesacker and Jack Wilshere both forcing dramatic saves from Cologne goalkeeper Timo Horn. Reiss Nelson, an Arsenal substitute, also tested Horn as time ticked away before Wilshere was denied, again spectacularly, in added time. Yet Cologne secured the victory which sets up an intriguing final game against Red Star next month. 7:55PM Full time, Cologne nab the win Arsenal were the better side on the whole but Cologne did well to nick all three points. For the home side, it's a famous European win against one of the biggest clubs in England. For Arsenal, it's a mildly embarrassing result against the side rock bottom of the Bundesliga, though the North Londoners still top the group after Red Star Belgrade could only muster a draw with BATE Borisov. 7:52PM 90+2 mins Wilshere hits an absolute belter from 20 yards, but Timo Horn makes yet another good save. 7:50PM 89 mins Two great chances for Arsenal! First Reiss Nelson winds his way into the box and sees a close-range rocket saved by Timo Horn. Next, Wilshere crosses for Eddie Nketiah to poke home, but several desperate Cologne defenders throw themselves in the way. 7:48PM 88 mins Sehrou Guirassy gets a yellow card for a late challenge on Per Mertesacker. 7:46PM 84 mins Wilshere makes a jinking run forward and chips a pass towards Olivier Giroud, but it's just slightly overhit and the Frenchman can't get a header on goal. 7:43PM 83 mins Arsenal bring on League Cup hero Eddie Nketiah for Mathieu Debuchy. 7:42PM 82 mins Arsenal are sleepwalking to a loss to the bottom side in the Bundesliga, as things stand. It's a much-changed team but, still, a win for Cologne would be a blow to the pride of the players involved. 7:36PM 75 mins Great chance for Olivier Giroud, who makes a rare off-the-shoulder run and gets in one-on-one. Defender Jannes Horn and goalkeeper Timo Horn combine to keep him out. The former is down and in a bit of pain, having made an excellent last-ditch tackle and been caught on the shin by Giroud. Jannes and Timo Horn combine to stop Olivier Giroud Credit: Martin Meissner/AP 7:33PM 72 mins Cologne use their final substitution to bring off Yuya Osako for midfielder Matthias Lehmann. 7:28PM 67 mins Arsenal make another substitution, with Calum Chambers off for Reiss Nelson. 7:26PM 65 mins Another save for Timo Horn to make, this time a long-range fizzer from the boot of Jack Wilshere. Arsenal are ramping up the pressure but aren't making too many cutting-edge chances right now. 7:24PM 63 mins Chance for Mertesacker! The big German gets a header on target from a corner, but it's pushed out by Timo Horn. Olivier Giroud is inches away from converting on the rebound. Per Mertesacker gets his head to the ball Credit: Martin Meissner/AP 7:23PM GOAL! Cologne 1-0 Arsenal Cologne are ahead against the general run of play. That penalty decision will be a post-match talking point, with the challenge by Debuchy seeming fairly innocuous. 7:22PM 61 mins Penalty Cologne! Mathieu Debuchy tangles with Guirassy and the referee gives it, though it looks like a questionable decision. 7:20PM 59 mins Chance for Cologne, but Sehrou Guirassy doesn't make the most of it. A long ball falls kindly for the French forward, but he only half connects with the shot and David Ospina scoops it up gratefully. 7:17PM 56 mins It's a second substitution for Cologne, who bring off Jhon Cordoba for Pawel Olkowski. Can Cologne keep Arsenal from scoring this evening? Credit: Lukas Schulze/Getty Images 7:16PM 55 mins Iwobi combines with Wilshere and powers to the edge of the Cologne box, but his shot is blocked. 7:12PM 50 mins Maitland-Niles picks up where he left off, winning Arsenal a corner on the left. Elneny's delivery doesn't get past the first man. Not ideal. 7:09PM 48 mins The first yellow card of the match goes to Mathieu Debuchy after a needless foul on Sehrou Guirassy. 7:08PM Substitution for Arsenal Alex Iwobi is on for Danny Welbeck, who Arsene Wenger no doubt wants to protect from a recurrence of his most recent injury. 7:04PM Teams are back out ... for more Europa League football! Hooray! 6:53PM Half time Arsenal started to dominate as the half went on, with Ainsley Maitland-Niles their standout player and Francis Coquelin denied by the post. Cologne have shown very little threat going forwards, with toothlessness up front their main shortcoming as a side. Their defence has been passable, but can they hang on for another 45? Arsenal look to be well on top in Germany Credit: Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images 6:47PM 44 mins Elneny takes a long-distance shot which sails harmlessly into the stands. Let's have half time now, please. 6:45PM 42 mins Jack Wilshere wins a free kick in a promising position 30 yards out. Mohamed Elneny's airy delivery is punched away by Timo Horn. 6:44PM 41 mins Welbeck sets up the excellent Maitland-Niles but the youngster's shot rebounds off a wall of bodies. 6:41PM 37 mins Cologne are forced into a substitution after Olivier Giroud and Dominic Maroh come together in the box, with the latter seeming to pull his hamstring in the process. Maroh limps off and Konstantin Rausch comes on in his place. 6:36PM 31 mins Danny Welbeck is the latest Arsenal player to go close, curling a shot just past the far post from the left side of the area. The home side are walking on thin ice here. 6:33PM 29 mins Arsenal hit the post! Olivier Giroud chips a pass through to the onrushing Francis Coquelin, who blasts a shot off the upright and out for a goal kick. No goal, but it's been an enterprising performance from the defensive midfielder so far. Olivier Giroud is slowly playing his way into the game Credit: Maja Hitij/Getty Images 6:32PM 28 mins Ainsley Maitland-Niles again makes massive inroads on the left, lofting a cross straight to the boot of a teammate in front of goal. Sadly, that teammate is Calum Chambers. Timo Horn collects easily. 6:30PM 27 mins Japanese forward Yuya Osako takes a pot shot at David Ospina from long range, but slips over and sees his effort corkscrew horribly wide. That sums up the last ten minutes or so, really. Osako takes on Francis Coquelin Credit: Marius Becker/DPA 6:24PM 19 mins Arsenal have a shot on target and it's off the head of Jack Wilshere, believe it or not. It's straight at Timo Horn, unfortunately. 6:23PM 18 mins Maitland-Niles threads through Olivier Giroud to the left of the area, but the Frenchman gets his feet tangled and fails to make anything of the pass. Could it be one of those nights for Arsenal's No.12? 6:18PM 13 mins Close from Coquelin! Having failed to clear their lines after some messy passing in and around the box, Cologne gift Coquelin an opportunity to shoot from 25 yards. He goes surprisingly close, but his effort slams against the advertising boards. It would have been a turn up for the books had the Frenchman scored. Francis Coquelin in action Credit: Wolfgang Rattay/Reuters 6:15PM 11 mins Some lovely skill from Maitland-Niles almost sees him play a dangerous pass across the box, but he is muscled off the ball at the final second. 6:13PM 10 mins Things have quietened down a bit after a lively start to the game. Arsenal are seeing more of the ball, but only just. 6:09PM 5 mins First chance for the home side! Cologne striker Jhon Cordoba roars up the pitch and blasts at goal from a tight angle, forcing David Ospina into a full-stretch save. 6:04PM 2 mins Good early chance for Arsenal, with Welbeck and Wilshere combining well to send Ainsley Maitland-Niles away into the box. His angled shot is saved by Timo Horn, who confidently comes to collect the resulting corner. 6:01PM Minute's applause for Hans Schafer Schafer was Cologne's all-time top goalscorer and made 39 appearances for West Germany, winning the 1954 World Cup. He died earlier this month at 90 years of age. 5:59PM Teams are out ... and Cologne flags are fluttering in the stands. There's plenty of noise coming from the away fans, too, though the Arsenal contingent have a lot to live up to. Both sets of fans are in fine voice Credit: Maja Hitij/Getty Images 5:53PM Big night for the home fans Having suffered through a miserable start to the season, Cologne fans will no doubt want to enjoy another big European night against Premier League opposition. Will things be as wild as they were in London a couple of months ago? Maybe not, but the atmosphere is still bound to be mega. 5:42PM Cologne team news #effzeh will begin the match against @Arsenal with three strikers. Bench: Kessler, Olkowski, Risa, Lehmann, Rausch, Nartey, Bisseck #KOEAFC#ReturnoftheGOATpic.twitter.com/xKuEkY3xYD— 1. FC Cologne (@fckoeln_en) November 23, 2017 5:40PM Europa League Thursdays Coming off the back of a brilliant but no doubt exhausting victory in the North London derby last weekend, Arsenal have a very 'Europa League' flavour to their line-up tonight. Arsene Wenger has named an entirely different team for the trip to Cologne, with notable inclusions for Danny Welbeck, Olivier Giroud and Jack Wilshere in attack. An unfamiliar back three of Mathieu Debuchy, Per Mertesacker and Rob Holding should be interesting, with the defence now featuring that perfect blend of age, youth and extreme ponderousness. Calum Chambers at right wing-back should be similarly dubious in terms of pace – presuming Arsenal's pre-match graphic is accurate – though whether or not the Cologne attack will be able to take advantage is another question. Cologne are currently bottom of the Bundesliga with two points from 12 games, while they also sit bottom of Europa League Group H. They have scored four goals in the league all season which, let's face it, isn't great. Despite giving Arsenal a momentary scare with an early goal at the Emirates back in September, it would be a considerable upset if Cologne got anything from tonight's fixture. Wenger might have named a squad with one eye firmly on Arsenal's next game against Burnley, but the North Londoners should still come away with all three points at the RheinEnergieStadion – Calum Chambers at right wing-back or not. Arsene Wenger arrives at the RheinEnergieStadion Credit: Lukas Schulze/Getty Images 5:04PM Evening all Welcome to coverage of Arsenal's Europa League tie against Cologne, a match which sees the return of Danny Welbeck to first team action. Jack Wilshere also gets a chance to work his way back into Arsenal's Premier League plans with another strong performance in midfield. Here's the full Arsenal line-up: �� How we line up for tonight’s clash with @fckoeln... #COLvAFCpic.twitter.com/pz95afRnB5— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) November 23, 2017  

FC Cologne vs Arsenal, Europa League: live score updates

  7:55PM Full time, Cologne nab the win Arsenal were the better side on the whole but Cologne did well to nick all three points. For the home side, it's a famous European win against one of the biggest clubs in England. For Arsenal, it's a mildly embarrassing result against the side rock bottom of the Bundesliga, though the North Londoners still top the group after Red Star Belgrade could only muster a draw with BATE Borisov. 7:52PM 90+2 mins Wilshere hits an absolute belter from 20 yards, but Timo Horn makes yet another good save. 7:50PM 89 mins Two great chances for Arsenal! First Reiss Nelson winds his way into the box and sees a close-range rocket saved by Timo Horn. Next, Wilshere crosses for Eddie Nketiah to poke home, but several desperate Cologne defenders throw themselves in the way. 7:48PM 88 mins Sehrou Guirassy gets a yellow card for a late challenge on Per Mertesacker. 7:46PM 84 mins Wilshere makes a jinking run forward and chips a pass towards Olivier Giroud, but it's just slightly overhit and the Frenchman can't get a header on goal. 7:43PM 83 mins Arsenal bring on League Cup hero Eddie Nketiah for Mathieu Debuchy. 7:42PM 82 mins Arsenal are sleepwalking to a loss to the bottom side in the Bundesliga, as things stand. It's a much-changed team but, still, a win for Cologne would be a blow to the pride of the players involved. 7:36PM 75 mins Great chance for Olivier Giroud, who makes a rare off-the-shoulder run and gets in one-on-one. Defender Jannes Horn and goalkeeper Timo Horn combine to keep him out. The former is down and in a bit of pain, having made an excellent last-ditch tackle and been caught on the shin by Giroud. Jannes and Timo Horn combine to stop Olivier Giroud Credit: Martin Meissner/AP 7:33PM 72 mins Cologne use their final substitution to bring off Yuya Osako for midfielder Matthias Lehmann. 7:28PM 67 mins Arsenal make another substitution, with Calum Chambers off for Reiss Nelson. 7:26PM 65 mins Another save for Timo Horn to make, this time a long-range fizzer from the boot of Jack Wilshere. Arsenal are ramping up the pressure but aren't making too many cutting-edge chances right now. 7:24PM 63 mins Chance for Mertesacker! The big German gets a header on target from a corner, but it's pushed out by Timo Horn. Olivier Giroud is inches away from converting on the rebound. Per Mertesacker gets his head to the ball Credit: Martin Meissner/AP 7:23PM GOAL! Cologne 1-0 Arsenal Cologne are ahead against the general run of play. That penalty decision will be a post-match talking point, with the challenge by Debuchy seeming fairly innocuous. 7:22PM 61 mins Penalty Cologne! Mathieu Debuchy tangles with Guirassy and the referee gives it, though it looks like a questionable decision. 7:20PM 59 mins Chance for Cologne, but Sehrou Guirassy doesn't make the most of it. A long ball falls kindly for the French forward, but he only half connects with the shot and David Ospina scoops it up gratefully. 7:17PM 56 mins It's a second substitution for Cologne, who bring off Jhon Cordoba for Pawel Olkowski. Can Cologne keep Arsenal from scoring this evening? Credit: Lukas Schulze/Getty Images 7:16PM 55 mins Iwobi combines with Wilshere and powers to the edge of the Cologne box, but his shot is blocked. 7:12PM 50 mins Maitland-Niles picks up where he left off, winning Arsenal a corner on the left. Elneny's delivery doesn't get past the first man. Not ideal. 7:09PM 48 mins The first yellow card of the match goes to Mathieu Debuchy after a needless foul on Sehrou Guirassy. 7:08PM Substitution for Arsenal Alex Iwobi is on for Danny Welbeck, who Arsene Wenger no doubt wants to protect from a recurrence of his most recent injury. 7:04PM Teams are back out ... for more Europa League football! Hooray! 6:53PM Half time Arsenal started to dominate as the half went on, with Ainsley Maitland-Niles their standout player and Francis Coquelin denied by the post. Cologne have shown very little threat going forwards, with toothlessness up front their main shortcoming as a side. Their defence has been passable, but can they hang on for another 45? Arsenal look to be well on top in Germany Credit: Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images 6:47PM 44 mins Elneny takes a long-distance shot which sails harmlessly into the stands. Let's have half time now, please. 6:45PM 42 mins Jack Wilshere wins a free kick in a promising position 30 yards out. Mohamed Elneny's airy delivery is punched away by Timo Horn. 6:44PM 41 mins Welbeck sets up the excellent Maitland-Niles but the youngster's shot rebounds off a wall of bodies. 6:41PM 37 mins Cologne are forced into a substitution after Olivier Giroud and Dominic Maroh come together in the box, with the latter seeming to pull his hamstring in the process. Maroh limps off and Konstantin Rausch comes on in his place. 6:36PM 31 mins Danny Welbeck is the latest Arsenal player to go close, curling a shot just past the far post from the left side of the area. The home side are walking on thin ice here. 6:33PM 29 mins Arsenal hit the post! Olivier Giroud chips a pass through to the onrushing Francis Coquelin, who blasts a shot off the upright and out for a goal kick. No goal, but it's been an enterprising performance from the defensive midfielder so far. Olivier Giroud is slowly playing his way into the game Credit: Maja Hitij/Getty Images 6:32PM 28 mins Ainsley Maitland-Niles again makes massive inroads on the left, lofting a cross straight to the boot of a teammate in front of goal. Sadly, that teammate is Calum Chambers. Timo Horn collects easily. 6:30PM 27 mins Japanese forward Yuya Osako takes a pot shot at David Ospina from long range, but slips over and sees his effort corkscrew horribly wide. That sums up the last ten minutes or so, really. Osako takes on Francis Coquelin Credit: Marius Becker/DPA 6:24PM 19 mins Arsenal have a shot on target and it's off the head of Jack Wilshere, believe it or not. It's straight at Timo Horn, unfortunately. 6:23PM 18 mins Maitland-Niles threads through Olivier Giroud to the left of the area, but the Frenchman gets his feet tangled and fails to make anything of the pass. Could it be one of those nights for Arsenal's No.12? 6:18PM 13 mins Close from Coquelin! Having failed to clear their lines after some messy passing in and around the box, Cologne gift Coquelin an opportunity to shoot from 25 yards. He goes surprisingly close, but his effort slams against the advertising boards. It would have been a turn up for the books had the Frenchman scored. Francis Coquelin in action Credit: Wolfgang Rattay/Reuters 6:15PM 11 mins Some lovely skill from Maitland-Niles almost sees him play a dangerous pass across the box, but he is muscled off the ball at the final second. 6:13PM 10 mins Things have quietened down a bit after a lively start to the game. Arsenal are seeing more of the ball, but only just. 6:09PM 5 mins First chance for the home side! Cologne striker Jhon Cordoba roars up the pitch and blasts at goal from a tight angle, forcing David Ospina into a full-stretch save. 6:04PM 2 mins Good early chance for Arsenal, with Welbeck and Wilshere combining well to send Ainsley Maitland-Niles away into the box. His angled shot is saved by Timo Horn, who confidently comes to collect the resulting corner. 6:01PM Minute's applause for Hans Schafer Schafer was Cologne's all-time top goalscorer and made 39 appearances for West Germany, winning the 1954 World Cup. He died earlier this month at 90 years of age. 5:59PM Teams are out ... and Cologne flags are fluttering in the stands. There's plenty of noise coming from the away fans, too, though the Arsenal contingent have a lot to live up to. Both sets of fans are in fine voice Credit: Maja Hitij/Getty Images 5:53PM Big night for the home fans Having suffered through a miserable start to the season, Cologne fans will no doubt want to enjoy another big European night against Premier League opposition. Will things be as wild as they were in London a couple of months ago? Maybe not, but the atmosphere is still bound to be mega. 5:42PM Cologne team news #effzeh will begin the match against @Arsenal with three strikers. Bench: Kessler, Olkowski, Risa, Lehmann, Rausch, Nartey, Bisseck #KOEAFC#ReturnoftheGOATpic.twitter.com/xKuEkY3xYD— 1. FC Cologne (@fckoeln_en) November 23, 2017 5:40PM Europa League Thursdays Coming off the back of a brilliant but no doubt exhausting victory in the North London derby last weekend, Arsenal have a very 'Europa League' flavour to their line-up tonight. Arsene Wenger has named an entirely different team for the trip to Cologne, with notable inclusions for Danny Welbeck, Olivier Giroud and Jack Wilshere in attack. An unfamiliar back three of Mathieu Debuchy, Per Mertesacker and Rob Holding should be interesting, with the defence now featuring that perfect blend of age, youth and extreme ponderousness. Calum Chambers at right wing-back should be similarly dubious in terms of pace – presuming Arsenal's pre-match graphic is accurate – though whether or not the Cologne attack will be able to take advantage is another question. Cologne are currently bottom of the Bundesliga with two points from 12 games, while they also sit bottom of Europa League Group H. They have scored four goals in the league all season which, let's face it, isn't great. Despite giving Arsenal a momentary scare with an early goal at the Emirates back in September, it would be a considerable upset if Cologne got anything from tonight's fixture. Wenger might have named a squad with one eye firmly on Arsenal's next game against Burnley, but the North Londoners should still come away with all three points at the RheinEnergieStadion – Calum Chambers at right wing-back or not. Arsene Wenger arrives at the RheinEnergieStadion Credit: Lukas Schulze/Getty Images 5:04PM Evening all Welcome to coverage of Arsenal's Europa League tie against Cologne, a match which sees the return of Danny Welbeck to first team action. Jack Wilshere also gets a chance to work his way back into Arsenal's Premier League plans with another strong performance in midfield. Here's the full Arsenal line-up: �� How we line up for tonight’s clash with @fckoeln... #COLvAFCpic.twitter.com/pz95afRnB5— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) November 23, 2017  

Bayern Munich's midfielder Arjen Robben gestures during the German first division Bundesliga football match against Augsburg November 18, 2017

Bayern Munich's midfielder Arjen Robben gestures during the German first division Bundesliga football match against Augsburg November 18, 2017 (AFP Photo/Christof STACHE)

Bayern Munich's midfielder Arjen Robben gestures during the German first division Bundesliga football match against Augsburg November 18, 2017

FC Cologne vs Arsenal, Europa League: live score updates

  6:23PM 18 mins Maitland-Niles threads through Olivier Giroud to the left of the area, but the Frenchman gets his feet tangled and fails to make anything of the pass. Could it be one of those nights for Arsenal's No.12? 6:18PM 13 mins Close from Coquelin! Having failed to clear their lines after some messy passing in and around the box, Cologne gift Coquelin an opportunity to shoot from 25 yards. He goes surprisingly close, but his effort slams against the advertising boards. It would have been a turn up for the books had the Frenchman scored. 6:15PM 11 mins Some lovely skill from Maitland-Niles almost sees him play a dangerous pass across the box, but he is muscled off the ball at the final second. 6:13PM 10 mins Things have quietened down a bit after a lively start to the game. Arsenal are seeing more of the ball, but only just. 6:09PM 5 mins First chance for the home side! Cologne striker Jhon Cordoba roars up the pitch and blasts at goal from a tight angle, forcing David Ospina into a full-stretch save. 6:04PM 2 mins Good early chance for Arsenal, with Welbeck and Wilshere combining well to send Ainsley Maitland-Niles away into the box. His angled shot is saved by Timo Horn, who confidently comes to collect the resulting corner. 6:01PM Minute's applause for Hans Schafer Schafer was Cologne's all-time top goalscorer and made 39 appearances for West Germany, winning the 1954 World Cup. He died earlier this month at 90 years of age. 5:59PM Teams are out ... and Cologne flags are fluttering in the stands. There's plenty of noise coming from the away fans, too, though the Arsenal contingent have a lot to live up to. Both sets of fans are in fine voice Credit: Maja Hitij/Getty Images 5:53PM Big night for the home fans Having suffered through a miserable start to the season, Cologne fans will no doubt want to enjoy another big European night against Premier League opposition. Will things be as wild as they were in London a couple of months ago? Maybe not, but the atmosphere is still bound to be mega. 5:42PM Cologne team news #effzeh will begin the match against @Arsenal with three strikers. Bench: Kessler, Olkowski, Risa, Lehmann, Rausch, Nartey, Bisseck #KOEAFC#ReturnoftheGOATpic.twitter.com/xKuEkY3xYD— 1. FC Cologne (@fckoeln_en) November 23, 2017 5:40PM Europa League Thursdays Coming off the back of a brilliant but no doubt exhausting victory in the North London derby last weekend, Arsenal have a very 'Europa League' flavour to their line-up tonight. Arsene Wenger has named an entirely different team for the trip to Cologne, with notable inclusions for Danny Welbeck, Olivier Giroud and Jack Wilshere in attack. An unfamiliar back three of Mathieu Debuchy, Per Mertesacker and Rob Holding should be interesting, with the defence now featuring that perfect blend of age, youth and extreme ponderousness. Calum Chambers at right wing-back should be similarly dubious in terms of pace – presuming Arsenal's pre-match graphic is accurate – though whether or not the Cologne attack will be able to take advantage is another question. Cologne are currently bottom of the Bundesliga with two points from 12 games, while they also sit bottom of Europa League Group H. They have scored four goals in the league all season which, let's face it, isn't great. Despite giving Arsenal a momentary scare with an early goal at the Emirates back in September, it would be a considerable upset if Cologne got anything from tonight's fixture. Wenger might have named a squad with one eye firmly on Arsenal's next game against Burnley, but the North Londoners should still come away with all three points at the RheinEnergieStadion – Calum Chambers at right wing-back or not. Arsene Wenger arrives at the RheinEnergieStadion Credit: Lukas Schulze/Getty Images 5:04PM Evening all Welcome to coverage of Arsenal's Europa League tie against Cologne, a match which sees the return of Danny Welbeck to first team action. Jack Wilshere also gets a chance to work his way back into Arsenal's Premier League plans with another strong performance in midfield. Here's the full Arsenal line-up: �� How we line up for tonight’s clash with @fckoeln... #COLvAFCpic.twitter.com/pz95afRnB5— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) November 23, 2017  

UEFA investigating Bayern after fans throw fake money in protest over Champions League prices

The Bundesliga champions' supporters were not amused at tickets priced at €100 and made their feelings known in Belgium

UEFA investigating Bayern after fans throw fake money in protest over Champions League prices

The Bundesliga champions' supporters were not amused at tickets priced at €100 and made their feelings known in Belgium

Bayern confirm Robben absence with 'minor' calf strain

The Bundesliga champions will be without the Dutchman for at least one match after he picked up an injury against Anderlecht in the Champions League

Bayern confirm Robben absence with 'minor' calf strain

The Bundesliga champions will be without the Dutchman for at least one match after he picked up an injury against Anderlecht in the Champions League

FILE - In this Nov. 17, 2017 file photo Dortmund's coach Peter Bosz sitting on the bench before the German Bundesliga soccer match between VfB Stuttgart and Borussia Dortmund in the Mercedes Benz Arena in Stuttgart, Germany. Dortmund will face Schalke 04 in a derby, Saturday Nov. 25. (Sebastian Gollnow/dpa via AP)

FILE - In this Nov. 17, 2017 file photo Dortmund's coach Peter Bosz sitting on the bench before the German Bundesliga soccer match between VfB Stuttgart and Borussia Dortmund in the Mercedes Benz Arena in Stuttgart, Germany. Dortmund will face Schalke 04 in a derby, Saturday Nov. 25. (Sebastian Gollnow/dpa via AP)

Robben: It could be over for me after this season

Bayern Munich veteran Arjen Robben is unclear on his future as he enters the final months of his contract with the Bundesliga champions.

Bayern played their worst 'for a long time' - Boateng

Bayern Munich beat Anderlecht on Wednesday, but Jerome Boateng pegged it as the Bundesliga champions' worst performance in a long while.

Mertesacker excited to return to 'passionate and heated' Cologne

Arsenal captain Per Mertesacker says he is excited to return to Cologne, the place where he made his Bundesliga debut.

Mertesacker excited to return to 'passionate and heated' Cologne

Arsenal captain Per Mertesacker says he is excited to return to Cologne, the place where he made his Bundesliga debut.

Mertesacker excited to return to 'passionate and heated' Cologne

Arsenal captain Per Mertesacker says he is excited to return to Cologne, the place where he made his Bundesliga debut.

Danny Welbeck to lead the line for Arsenal against Cologne as he bids to kick-start season ravaged by injuries

Danny Welbeck will make his first Arsenal appearance in over five weeks on Thursday, with Arsene Wenger convinced the striker can save his World Cup dream.  Welbeck is set to lead the line against Cologne in Arsenal’s penultimate Europa League group game as he bids to kick-start his season after a campaign ravaged by injuries. The 26 year-old has played only one game in two months, after struggling with groin and hamstring problems, to threaten his hopes of making England’s squad for Russia. Though Welbeck has scored 15 goals in 36 games for the national team, Gareth Southgate has admitted that players who do not feature consistently for their clubs will be left out of his final squad. Welbeck has struggled for the last three years but has travelled to western Germany and Wenger insists the £16 million signing will be involved next summer "He has the potential to go and if he’s fit he will go, I’m convinced of that,” he said. “It is a big year for him, but I want it to be a big year for him and for Arsenal too. Arsene Wenger insists Danny Welbeck has a future at Arsenal Credit: REUTERS “As a consequence of that, the best way to go to the World Cup is not to think ‘I have to prepare for the World Cup’, it is to do well for your club and automatically you are in the national team.  “I’ve known players who’ve won the World Cup who in November had no chance to go to the World Cup. I remember [Emmanuel] Petit in 1998, he made it in March, April, May, and was one of the main players after the World Cup." Welbeck scored in England’s 4-0 win over Malta in September but has barely featured for Arsenal since, with Southgate experimenting successfully with younger players for the friendlies against Germany and Brazil. His last appearance for Arsenal was in the chastening 2-1 defeat at Watford, when he was taken off after 61 minutes, but he will make his return against Cologne. Wenger said: “We are all very happy that he’s back, he’s gone through very difficult periods in last three years. Danny Welbeck in training Credit: GETTY IMAGES “I believe he is a top-class striker. What is most important is to have consistent presence in competition. If you’re in and out, you can’t be at your best, it is as simple as that. Even if you cannot play every game, you have to be capable to practice every day.” Wenger has pledged to play an experienced team at the RheinEnergieStadion as he pursues top spot in Group H, with Olivier Giroud also in the frame to start. Arsenal are unbeaten in the Europa League so far and Wenger already has one eye on the knockout stage next year. Confidence is high after their stirring victory over Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday. "It helps to win big games but that is behind us now and we are fully focused on Cologne," he said. “We are Arsenal, we want to always win, we are always under pressure. Every game is important and you want to win. If we finish top it gives you that advantage for the rest of the competition.” Arsenal are expecting a warm reception in Cologne, two months after the game at the Emirates was delayed due to crowd problems. Cologne were fined €60,000 by Uefa after an estimatated 20,000 fans travelled to London, setting off fireworks, throwing objects and committing acts of damage. Arsenal were also fined for a blocked stairwell in the away section and Per Mertesacker, the defender, is predicting another lively evening.  “I played my first Bundesliga game here and was substituted after 45 minutes. It’s so heated, so intense, it is definitely special,” he said. “It will be heated, passionate, they are one of those clubs, you can really feel they are different.” Arsenal (probable):Ospina; Debuchy, Holding, Mertesacker, Chambers, Maitland-Niles; Coquelin, Elneny; Wilshere, Welbeck, Giroud.

Danny Welbeck to lead the line for Arsenal against Cologne as he bids to kick-start season ravaged by injuries

Danny Welbeck will make his first Arsenal appearance in over five weeks on Thursday, with Arsene Wenger convinced the striker can save his World Cup dream.  Welbeck is set to lead the line against Cologne in Arsenal’s penultimate Europa League group game as he bids to kick-start his season after a campaign ravaged by injuries. The 26 year-old has played only one game in two months, after struggling with groin and hamstring problems, to threaten his hopes of making England’s squad for Russia. Though Welbeck has scored 15 goals in 36 games for the national team, Gareth Southgate has admitted that players who do not feature consistently for their clubs will be left out of his final squad. Welbeck has struggled for the last three years but has travelled to western Germany and Wenger insists the £16 million signing will be involved next summer "He has the potential to go and if he’s fit he will go, I’m convinced of that,” he said. “It is a big year for him, but I want it to be a big year for him and for Arsenal too. Arsene Wenger insists Danny Welbeck has a future at Arsenal Credit: REUTERS “As a consequence of that, the best way to go to the World Cup is not to think ‘I have to prepare for the World Cup’, it is to do well for your club and automatically you are in the national team.  “I’ve known players who’ve won the World Cup who in November had no chance to go to the World Cup. I remember [Emmanuel] Petit in 1998, he made it in March, April, May, and was one of the main players after the World Cup." Welbeck scored in England’s 4-0 win over Malta in September but has barely featured for Arsenal since, with Southgate experimenting successfully with younger players for the friendlies against Germany and Brazil. His last appearance for Arsenal was in the chastening 2-1 defeat at Watford, when he was taken off after 61 minutes, but he will make his return against Cologne. Wenger said: “We are all very happy that he’s back, he’s gone through very difficult periods in last three years. Danny Welbeck in training Credit: GETTY IMAGES “I believe he is a top-class striker. What is most important is to have consistent presence in competition. If you’re in and out, you can’t be at your best, it is as simple as that. Even if you cannot play every game, you have to be capable to practice every day.” Wenger has pledged to play an experienced team at the RheinEnergieStadion as he pursues top spot in Group H, with Olivier Giroud also in the frame to start. Arsenal are unbeaten in the Europa League so far and Wenger already has one eye on the knockout stage next year. Confidence is high after their stirring victory over Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday. "It helps to win big games but that is behind us now and we are fully focused on Cologne," he said. “We are Arsenal, we want to always win, we are always under pressure. Every game is important and you want to win. If we finish top it gives you that advantage for the rest of the competition.” Arsenal are expecting a warm reception in Cologne, two months after the game at the Emirates was delayed due to crowd problems. Cologne were fined €60,000 by Uefa after an estimatated 20,000 fans travelled to London, setting off fireworks, throwing objects and committing acts of damage. Arsenal were also fined for a blocked stairwell in the away section and Per Mertesacker, the defender, is predicting another lively evening.  “I played my first Bundesliga game here and was substituted after 45 minutes. It’s so heated, so intense, it is definitely special,” he said. “It will be heated, passionate, they are one of those clubs, you can really feel they are different.” Arsenal (probable):Ospina; Debuchy, Holding, Mertesacker, Chambers, Maitland-Niles; Coquelin, Elneny; Wilshere, Welbeck, Giroud.

Danny Welbeck to lead the line for Arsenal against Cologne as he bids to kick-start season ravaged by injuries

Danny Welbeck will make his first Arsenal appearance in over five weeks on Thursday, with Arsene Wenger convinced the striker can save his World Cup dream.  Welbeck is set to lead the line against Cologne in Arsenal’s penultimate Europa League group game as he bids to kick-start his season after a campaign ravaged by injuries. The 26 year-old has played only one game in two months, after struggling with groin and hamstring problems, to threaten his hopes of making England’s squad for Russia. Though Welbeck has scored 15 goals in 36 games for the national team, Gareth Southgate has admitted that players who do not feature consistently for their clubs will be left out of his final squad. Welbeck has struggled for the last three years but has travelled to western Germany and Wenger insists the £16 million signing will be involved next summer "He has the potential to go and if he’s fit he will go, I’m convinced of that,” he said. “It is a big year for him, but I want it to be a big year for him and for Arsenal too. Arsene Wenger insists Danny Welbeck has a future at Arsenal Credit: REUTERS “As a consequence of that, the best way to go to the World Cup is not to think ‘I have to prepare for the World Cup’, it is to do well for your club and automatically you are in the national team.  “I’ve known players who’ve won the World Cup who in November had no chance to go to the World Cup. I remember [Emmanuel] Petit in 1998, he made it in March, April, May, and was one of the main players after the World Cup." Welbeck scored in England’s 4-0 win over Malta in September but has barely featured for Arsenal since, with Southgate experimenting successfully with younger players for the friendlies against Germany and Brazil. His last appearance for Arsenal was in the chastening 2-1 defeat at Watford, when he was taken off after 61 minutes, but he will make his return against Cologne. Wenger said: “We are all very happy that he’s back, he’s gone through very difficult periods in last three years. Danny Welbeck in training Credit: GETTY IMAGES “I believe he is a top-class striker. What is most important is to have consistent presence in competition. If you’re in and out, you can’t be at your best, it is as simple as that. Even if you cannot play every game, you have to be capable to practice every day.” Wenger has pledged to play an experienced team at the RheinEnergieStadion as he pursues top spot in Group H, with Olivier Giroud also in the frame to start. Arsenal are unbeaten in the Europa League so far and Wenger already has one eye on the knockout stage next year. Confidence is high after their stirring victory over Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday. "It helps to win big games but that is behind us now and we are fully focused on Cologne," he said. “We are Arsenal, we want to always win, we are always under pressure. Every game is important and you want to win. If we finish top it gives you that advantage for the rest of the competition.” Arsenal are expecting a warm reception in Cologne, two months after the game at the Emirates was delayed due to crowd problems. Cologne were fined €60,000 by Uefa after an estimatated 20,000 fans travelled to London, setting off fireworks, throwing objects and committing acts of damage. Arsenal were also fined for a blocked stairwell in the away section and Per Mertesacker, the defender, is predicting another lively evening.  “I played my first Bundesliga game here and was substituted after 45 minutes. It’s so heated, so intense, it is definitely special,” he said. “It will be heated, passionate, they are one of those clubs, you can really feel they are different.” Arsenal (probable):Ospina; Debuchy, Holding, Mertesacker, Chambers, Maitland-Niles; Coquelin, Elneny; Wilshere, Welbeck, Giroud.

By using Yahoo you agree that Yahoo and partners may use Cookies for personalisation and other purposes