We are set for an historic day at the Emirates tonight as we kick off our first Europa League campaign against the German stragglers Cologne and by rights we should be red hot favourites if we played our first team against them. But it could be a different story if Cologne play their best team and we send out our expensively assembled reserves.
The Cologne captain has seen his club lose their opening three matches in the Bundesliga, but he thinks it will have little bearing on this encounter. ‘We really look forward to the challenge, it is independent to the Bundesliga. We want to enjoy the game and show passion in the game,’ Matthias Lehmann said.
‘We are definitely not the favourite, they have a big squad and top players and there will be other top players who start.
‘Arsenal are of course the big favourites but we believe in ourselves, it is a highlight and we will see what their line-up is tomorrow but it doesn’t really matter.’
‘We have a situation in which last season we had a great season and because of the results we deserve to play these games now,’ he said.
‘It is really good and a lot of us hoped for this sort of draw. Arsenal are the top team in the Europa League so we really look forward to this difficult task, it is interesting and we want to present ourselves well.
‘Even in Germany people look at the Premier League and the great teams around and I think Arsenal are one of those teams.
‘We have to show our own qualities on the pitch, we have shown against teams like Bayern Munich and Dortmund that we can get positive results.
‘This is a challenge but in the Bundesliga we have played against teams with similar qualities as Arsenal.’
I have a feeling this is not going to be a pushover with our reserves. Cologne are used to playing in big stadiums and they will have lots of noisy travelling supporters behind them. I know Wenger won’t be too bothered by the result even if we lose as there are even easier games ahead, but our fans will be VERY bothered!
Don’t expect a walk in the park lads, but show some fight and we’ll get behind you!