Admit it Arsenal fans, you were thinking at half time, when the under performing Arsenal team trudged off the Emirates stadium pitch trailing to a Cologne side that had lost all of their games so far this season, that the Europa League was going to be yet another nightmare for us Gooners.
I know that I felt that way, but after the final whistle I was left even appreciating the goal that put us behind, because it was a fine strike the like of which you do not often see and which makes us all love the game. Of course it was easier to like because it did not affect the result after Kolasinac and Alexis Sanchez scored their own peaches and Hector Bellerin secured the win with a reaction tap in to make it 3-1.
I don’t know about you guys, but I really enjoyed our first game in this second tier European competition, including the drama of a late start and the full on, slightly crazy and remarkable showing from the Cologne fans, in the ground at least where they sung their hearts out even, and especially, when the game was gone. It made me smile and the game was a real cracker.
It seemed to put a smile back on the face of the Arsenal players and Arsene Wenger as well. Perhaps the lack of real pressure helps, but maybe it was just playing an exciting game, getting the right result and starting to think that this might be better than being tanked by Bayern Munich or Barcelona in the middle of a title fight.
Wilshere looked sharp again, Reiss Nelson had hardly any time but still gave us a glimpse of his potential and Alexis suddenly found his form again, which is exactly the sort of thing we hoped would happen. It is early days, Gooners, but do you think that instead of a pain in the backside we do not want or need, could the Europa League actually be a nice ray of sunshine for Arsenal?