FC Koln v Arsenal: Hosts to win their cup final

Peter Stoger's Koln need a win against Arsenal
Peter Stoger's Koln need a win against Arsenal
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It's been a horrible season for FC Koln, but our Bundesliga columnist Kevin Hatchard believes they can find solace in the Europa League, and cause a shock against Arsenal.

"Koln have been playing a little better than their results suggest, and they should benefit from an incredible atmosphere."

Back Koln Draw No Bet at [2.04]

FC Koln v Arsenal
Thursday November 23, 18:00
Live on BT Sport 2

Koln hoping to forget domestic woes

Another game, another defeat, another tale of what might have been. FC Koln were beaten 1-0 at Mainz on Saturday, and are still rooted to the foot of the Bundesliga, with just two points collected from 12 matches. Koln played well, but conceded a winner from a penalty that referee Dr Felix Brych later admitted shouldn't have been given.

Coach Peter Stoger has been retained so far, and has a huge bank of goodwill, after taking the club back into the Bundesliga, and then into Europe. Vice-president Toni Schumacher met with senior players this week to discuss the crisis, and they gave their coach staunch backing.

Koln fans have been waiting for this continental campaign for 25 years, and especially this game. They'll create a great atmosphere at the RheinEnergieStadion, but if their team is to get the win it needs, everyone will have to hit top form.

Key defender Dominique Heintz is out injured, as are midfielders Marcel Risse and Jonas Hector, but combative striker Jhon Cordoba (who scored a stunning goal against Arsenal at the Emirates) is back in the picture.

Wenger to rotate once again as he seeks top spot

Arsenal's squad depth has been on show in the Europa League this season, with Arsene Wenger fielding teams that have omitted some key players, but have still had plenty of quality. The likes of Jack Wilshere, Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott have thrived, as Arsenal have taken ten points from their four group games.

After the physical and emotional toll of a north London derby, Wenger will once again rest key stars, a luxury he can afford now that the Gunners have qualified for the last 32 with two games to spare. Giroud will lead the line if fit, but if he fails to recover from injury, impressive youngster Eddie Nketiah waits in the wings.

Arsenal's away form in this competition has been impressive. They went to BATE Borisov and won 4-2 in Belarus, and braved a fierce atmosphere in Serbia to win 1-0 at Crvena Zvezda.

Koln could finally click after emotional week

Arsenal have already shown they can deal with intimidating atmospheres on the road this season, but I'm more interested in what the Koln crowd can do for their own players. By and large, Koln aren't getting smashed in games, they are coming out on the wrong end of close ones time and time again. There were some encouraging signs at the weekend in Mainz, especially the rare deployment of a front two, with Sehrou Guirassy alongside Jhon Cordoba.

There are a lot of ifs in play here, but if Koln's misfiring attack clicks, and a weakened Arsenal side that doesn't really need a result is below its best, a home win is possible. Koln won their last home game in the competition 5-2 against BATE Borisov, and I'll back them Draw No Bet on this occasion.

Goals likely as Koln chase the win they need

Koln haven't been the solid defensive outfit we associate with their recent success (they have leaked 23 goals in the Bundesliga already), and they are in a situation where they have to push for goals.

There were four goals the last time these sides met, and I suspect both teams will create plenty of chances. The market is split down the middle, but I'm leaning towards an overs bet.

Recommended Bets
Back Koln Draw No Bet at [2.04]
Back Over 2.5 Goals at [1.9] (Betfair Sportsbook)

2017-18 Europa League Group Stage P/L

Points Staked: 25

Points Returned: 29.02

P/L: +4.02 points

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