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Full-time: FC Cologne 1-0 Arsenal

  • Arsenal confirmed as Europa League Group H winners despite falling to a slender defeat at the RheinEnergieStadion courtesy of the goalless draw between BATE Borisov and Red Star Belgrade
  • Sehrou Guirassy nets the only goal of the game from the penalty spot on 62 minutes after going down under minimal contact from Mathieu Debuchy
  • Francis Coquelin spurns the Gunners' best chance in the first half after crashing a shot against the post
  • Result means Cologne, bottom of the Bundesliga, remain in contention for a knockout berth ahead of their trip to Belgrade next month
  • Victory was just the hosts' second in 17 games so far this season
  • Much-changed Arsenal, on a high after their north London derby success, have now lost each of their last four away games against German opposition
  • Danny Welbeck's first appearance for more than five weeks ends after only 45 minutes
  • Dominic Maroh, Jhon Cordoba and Jannes Horn all add to Cologne's injury woes

That is all for this particular blog, thanks for following along.

You can join IBTimes UK sport editor Nick Howson for live coverage of Everton's penultimate Group E contest against Serie A side Atalanta at Goodison Park here. That one is just kicking off.

Goodbye for now.

It's a massive win in the context of a desperately disappointing season for Cologne, who remain in contention for a runner-up spot after going level on points with Red Star ahead of next month's trip to Belgrade.

However, the knocks sustained by Maroh, Cordoba and Jannes Horn will be a concern before the Bundesliga visit of Hertha Berlin.

Arsenal's unbeaten run in the Europa League comes to an end, but that stalemate in Barysaw means they are confirmed as Group H winners with one more home match against BATE Borisov to come on 7 December.

Wenger has been lamenting what he calls a sequence of "unbelievable" refereeing decisions of late and no doubt he will have something to say about that penalty award.

It's something of a comedown after the highs of last weekend's north London derby win, but really the result matters little in the grand scheme of things. Burnley away is next up for the Gunners on Sunday.


FC Cologne 1-0 Arsenal

Wilshere fizzes a powerful shot narrowly over the crossbar. Nervous Cologne fans pleading for the final whistle a good minute-and-a-half early.

This would be a huge result for the struggling hosts.

Full-time in Belarus, where BATE Borisov have drawn 0-0 with Red Star Belgrade. Arsenal will be confirmed as group winners even if they fail to score in the closing minutes in Cologne.

Almost an equaliser from Arsenal as Timo Horn parries Nelson's drive. Wilshere and Nketiah also go close.

Four minutes of added time for the Gunners to rescue a point.

Guirassy adds a yellow card to his goal after going in recklessly on Mertesacker.

It's certainly looking that way as we head into the final knockings...


Wenger rolls the dice one final time, sending on 18-year-old forward Eddie Nketiah in place of Debuchy.

Can he repeat his Norwich Carabao Cup heroics?

Nelson is slightly blocked off by Sorensen as he looks to connect with a cross, but his own penalty appeals are muted at best.

Olkowski finds himself in acres of space and appeals for another penalty after claiming that his underhit cross was blocked by the hand of Mertesacker. On this occasion, the referee is not interested.

Guirassy celebrates what could be the only goal of the game in Cologne...

Sehrou Guirassy

Arsenal are pushing for an equaliser here but just cannot find a way through this resilient Cologne defence.

10 minutes plus stoppage time remaining.

Giroud peels off the back of Mere and looks to be clean through before a heavy touch allows Jannes Horn to make a superb last-ditch challenge.

The defender collides painfully with namesake Timo and appears to have come off worse. He receives medical attention before limping gingerly off the pitch as Wilshere prepares to deliver another corner.

A final substitution from Cologne, who withdraw striker Osako in favour of experienced midfielder Lehmann.

A moment of concern for Wenger as Wilshere stays down in pain after being caught by Mere. He looks OK to continue.

Jack Wilshere

It's important to note that Arsenal would still win Group H tonight as it stands, with BATE Borisov and Red Star Belgrade still goalless in Belarus.

Nelson shows an excellent turn of pace to dispossess goalscorer Guirassy after Debuchy was beaten.

Cologne have grown in confidence since taking the lead against the run of play.

Wenger's second change sees the ineffective Chambers make way for Nelson, who had apparently been a little unwell before the game.

Wilshere trying his best to get Arsenal back on level terms. He shifts the ball onto his left foot before drawing a strong save from Timo Horn.

The former Bournemouth loanee then heads onto the roof of the net.

That looked an incredibly soft penalty decision, it must be said. And should Debuchy have not been shown a second yellow?

Timo Horn called into action as he punches clear Mertesacker's header.

Ospina dives to his right as Guirassy strikes straight down the middle. First blood to the hosts with just over an hour played.

Sehrou Guirassy

Goal: FC Cologne 1-0 Arsenal (Sehrou Guirassy)

Referee Bezborodov points to the spot after Guirassy goes over under minimal contact from Debuchy.

He dusts himself off to take the spot-kick...

Penalty to Cologne

Jojic beats Coquelin to the ball after a loose clearing header and Guirassy produces a tame shot that is easily claimed by Ospina.

Woeful execution.

Yet more injury woe for Cologne...


Cologne concede possession once more, but Arsenal are unable to break through the crowd of bodies on the edge of the box.

Maitland-Niles sells a nice piece of skill and is brought down by Klunter, who receives a caution for his troubles.

Pawel Olkowski replaces the disappointing Cordoba before Klunter heads a left-wing free-kick behind for another Arsenal corner.

Another Gunners corner is cleared away by Guirassy. Wilshere is then crowded out in the area as he looks to connect with a Giroud knockdown.

Debuchy scythes down Guirassy near the halfway line and collects the first yellow card of the evening.

Arsenal cannot make the most of a corner conceded by Rausch.

Could it be that Wenger saw enough from Welbeck in that first half to want to rest him for Sunday's tough trip to Burnley?

Run-outs of these kind usually last an hour or so, but why would Iwobi have been included on such a youthful bench unless he was going to play significant minutes?

Welbeck's first appearance for more than five weeks ends after 45 minutes. You wonder if that was the plan all along, or if he has suffered yet another setback.

Hopefully it's the former and it must be said that he did not look to be struggling before the interval. Iwobi on.


Not the most thrilling half of football you are ever going to see, that's for sure. Arsenal have been dominant, but when Coquelin is your main attacking threat you know you are going wrong somewhere.

Cologne's football is evidently not worthy of their magnificent fans. The hosts, hit by yet another big injury, look utterly devoid of confidence and have not been given a sniff by the Arsenal backline.

For anyone wondering, Chambers is not an effective right wing-back.

Francis Coquelin

Whistles around the stadium after Cologne piece together a good attacking move, only to end up going all the way back to Timo Horn.

Elneny receives possession from Coquelin and balloons a shot well over the crossbar.

Two minutes of additional time to be played at the end of this tame first half.

Salih Ozcan is whistled for a foul on Wilshere and Timo Horn punches clear Elneny's latest free-kick.

Milos Jojic plays his way out of danger after blocking Maitland-Niles' shot and Cologne embark upon a rare foray forward.

The ball is sprayed wide left to Osako, who lifts his cross to the back post when Cordoba and Guirassy had both made runs to the front.

A lack of communication from Cologne, who have offered preciously little in the final third thus far.

Cordoba is caught in possession by Maitland-Niles and proceeds to pull back the 20-year-old, giving Arsenal a free-kick in a dangerous position on the left-hand side.

Rausch finally comes on as Elneny's floated delivery is headed away by striker Sehrou Guirassy.

Maroh limps over the byline and Cologne are temporarily down to 10 men as Rausch prepares to enter the fray.

Dominic Maroh

Lovely football from Arsenal as Welbeck looks to pick out Giroud with the cross.

He is just turned away from the ball by Maroh, who immediately signals to the bench that he has a hamstring injury.

The Cologne captain will not be able to continue. Another sizable fitness blow for the beleaguered hosts.

Arsenal beginning to turn the screw here as Welbeck cuts inside Klunter and bends a shot wide of the far post.

Deafening noise inside the RheinEnergieStadion.


It's the unlikely figure of Coquelin posing the biggest threat for Arsenal again as the oft-maligned holding midfielder collects a pass from Giroud before smacking a shot against the post and wide.

Still goalless after half an hour in Cologne.

Alert goalkeeping from Ospina to race off his line and smother a pass intended for Cordoba.

Cologne then work the ball to Osako, who loses his footing and drills a shot well wide. Jannes Horn was unmarked on the outside there.

Debuchy now in the wars after taking a painful blow to the shin from Osako. He gets back to his feet after a moment on the ground.


Jannes Horn jogs back on, much to the relief of Stoger. Cologne certainly do not need any more injuries just at the moment.

A clever first-time cross from Maitland-Niles is headed straight at Timo Horn by Wilshere.

Left wing-back Jannes Horn applied some late pressure to the midfielder there and appears to have hurt his thigh. He will require treatment.

Giroud finds some space down the left channel but declines to whip in a first-time cross and instead sees a poor low ball gobbled up by Timo Horn.

A deep right-wing cross from Mathieu Debuchy is then taken away from Welbeck by Klunter.


After an initial Arsenal shot is blocked, Coquelin unleashes a vicious right-footed effort from distance that whistles just wide before coming crashing back off the advertising hoardings.

He certainly doesn't score many...

End-to-end stuff for a moment as Frederik Sorensen and Lukas Klunter combine inside the box to stop a promising run from Maitland-Niles.

A swift Cologne counter-attack breaks down courtesy of a sloppy pass from Cordoba.

Giroud tumbles rather theatrically after a collision with Dominic Maroh, but fails to win a free-kick. Timo Horn eventually gathers the loose ball after a moment of hesitation.

Cologne monopolising possession now as they look to carve out another opening. They earn an unlikely throw-in when Coquelin runs the ball out of play on the near side.

Cologne push forward for the first time and a hopeful cross-cum-shot from Cordoba is diverted behind by fellow Colombian Ospina in the Arsenal goal.

A positive start from Arsenal, with Wilshere dictating the play. He finds Maitland-Niles, whose shot from a tricky angle is pushed wide by Timo Horn.

Elneny's corner is then comfortably claimed by the goalkeeper.

Russian referee Vladislav Bezborodov gets the game underway. Will Arsenal seal top spot in Group H, or can Cologne keep their qualification hopes alive?

Kick-off will be preceded by a minute's applause in memory of Cologne legend and former oldest living World Cup (1954) winner Hans Schafer, who died earlier this month three weeks after his 90th birthday.

A legendary figure in Germany's fourth biggest city.


"A match that Cologne could have sold out four times over," the TV commentator announces.

There should be a special atmosphere inside the 49,968-capacity RheinEnergieStadion this evening.

FC Cologne

The rain is falling steadily in Cologne, although the pitch is apparently still being watered. It could be rather slippery underfoot for the players this evening.

Kick-off now just over five minutes away....


This season marks the first time Cologne have competed in European competition for two decades and they certainly showed signs of life with a 5-2 thumping of BATE earlier this month.

Arsenal, who had not graced European football's secondary club tournament since losing the 2000 final on penalties, have lost on their last three visits to these shores - including consecutive 5-1 thumpings at the hands of Bayern Munich - and, per Opta, have won just four of 17 European away games against German opponents.

However, they are also bidding to become the first English team to record road victories against five different Bundesliga sides.


One interested observer in Japan tonight will be Lukas Podolski, who is a popular figure among both sets of fans.

The 32-year-old, who now plies his trade with J1 League outfit Vissel Kobe, came through the youth set-up to begin his senior career with Cologne and scored 83 goals across two stints with Die Geißbocke.

His second spell at the club ended in 2012 with a £10.9m move to Arsenal, where he notched 31 times in 82 appearances and won the FA Cup before a loan move to Inter Milan was followed by a permanent transfer to Galatasaray.

The two clubs' respective Twitter accounts have been swapping "GoaldenPoldi" highlights of the former Germany international all day.

Getty Images

Wenger has this week been effusive in his praise of the returning Welbeck, whom he is certain will travel with England to the World Cup next summer providing he can stay fit after several injury setbacks.

For me he is a striker with top physical qualities, good movement, he is a team player as well and he can score goals, he can provide, he can play through the middle, he can play on the flanks.

I believe he is a top class striker and on top of that he is loved by everyone in the squad. He is a fantastic guy on top of that. He is loved by everybody and we are all very happy he's back because he has gone through difficult periods in these last three years and personally I am very happy he is back.

Danny Welbeck

Wenger makes 11 changes as anticipated, with Ospina, captain Per Mertesacker, Maitland-Niles, Francis Coquelin, Jack Wilshere and Welbeck all promoted to the starting lineup after making the squad on Saturday.

Alex Iwobi remains a substitute, however.

In terms of alterations from Arsenal's last Europa League outing, Macey, Nelson and Willock all drop to the bench.

Mohamed Elneny pushes into midfield and Chambers gets the nod at right wing-back. Walcott's place in the attack is taken by Welbeck.


Arsenal will continue their policy of Europa League rotation tonight, with another mixture of experienced first-teamers and aspiring youngsters expected.

Wenger suggested that Danny Welbeck could start after remaining an unused substitute against Tottenham after five weeks out with a hamstring injury that followed immediately on the back of a groin issue.

Olivier Giroud has also travelled after missing the derby with a thigh strain suffered on international duty with France, although Theo Walcott - a regular in this competition - is still suffering with an illness. Santi Cazorla remains a long-term absentee.

Theo Walcott

Defenders Calum Chambers and Rob Holding should be involved, while fit-again deputy goalkeeper David Ospina is set to reclaim his European starting berth from third-stringer Matt Macey, despite the latter's impressive display against Red Star.

Joe Willock, Reiss Nelson, Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Eddie Nketiah are among the talented youth crop hoping to be given another chance to impress.

The English version of Cologne's Twitter account has certainly been on good form in the build-up to this match...


Here is what Stoger had to say on those injury woes during his pre-match press conference on Wednesday...

Of course we are missing players, both on the pitch and in the locker room. But the situation remains that we are able to send Bundesliga players on the pitch. What is missing for us right now are the variations and the opportunity to make adjustments.

The competition for places can also not be measured in training. My job is to find a formation that will fit these players best in order for them to produce at the highest level.

Peter Stoger

Some early team news from Cologne, who are without several first-team players at present including Jonas Hector (knee), Marcel Risse (knee), Dominique Heintz (thigh) and Marco Hoger (thigh).

Head coach Peter Stoger has gone for a very attacking lineup, with Jorge Mere, Jannes Horn and Yuya Osako all drafted in following the 1-0 defeat to 10-man Mainz on Saturday.

Konstantin Rausch and Matthias Lehmann both drop to the bench, while Simon Zoller was withdrawn during the first half at Opel Arena due to a muscle strain. He is expected to be sidelined until 2018.

Leonardo Bittencourt (adductor) is also out.


The previous meeting between these two sides in September was certainly memorable, with kick-off delayed by an hour due to crowd safety concerns.

Cologne were only given an allocation of 3,000 at the Emirates Stadium, but 20,000 supporters were said to have descended upon London and many tried to gain access without tickets.

Segregation inside the ground collapsed after scores managed to buy from touts, giving it the air of a home clash for the German side.

The game eventually passed off without any further trouble, with Arsenal going onto win 3-1 after goals from Sead Kolasinac, Alexis Sanchez and Hector Bellerin cancelled out Jhon Cordoba's spectacular early opener.

Arsenal vs Cologne
Getty Images

Five arrests were made on the night and Uefa eventually slapped Cologne with a €60,000 fine and ordered the club to pay Arsenal compensation for damage caused within 30 days.

Four charges relating to crowd disturbances, the setting off of fireworks, throwing of objects and acts of damage were upheld, while the Billy Goats were also issued with a ban on ticket sales for one European away match suspended for two years.

Arsenal were fined €12,000 for blocked stairways but avoided any further disciplinary proceedings.

There we will be no repeat of that sort of carnage tonight, we trust...

Brimming with confidence after a comfortable 2-0 north London derby victory on Saturday that took them to within a point of fierce rivals Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal are back on Europa League duty tonight as the FA Cup holders visit the atmospheric RheinEnergieStadion in North Rhine-Westphalia for their penultimate Group H tie against troubled FC Cologne.

Having secured qualification for the last 32 with two fixtures to spare on matchday four despite seeing their 100% competition record ended by a tedious goalless draw at home to Red Star Belgrade, the Gunners know that a point will be enough to take top spot.

FC Cologne

Optimism is in desperately short supply around these parts, with Cologne, or Koln for the German speakers among you, currently rock bottom of the Bundesliga after losing 10 and winning precisely none of their opening 12 matches in 2017-18.

The injury-plagued hosts also sit at the foot of Group H after claiming just one victory in four attempts and will see their faint hopes of sealing a knockout berth extinguished with a fourth loss this evening.

A draw would similarly see them eliminated if second-place Red Star Belgrade beat BATE Borisov in Belarus.

Kick-off tonight is at the earlier time of 18.00 GMT, so stay tuned to IBTimes UK for live updates.