Sports

A slew of starters to be rested for Europa match

A slew of starters to be rested for Europa match

Wilshere is expected to feature for Arsenal against FC Köln on Thursday night in the Europa League. The midfielder was just a year removed from perhaps the greatest performance a teenager has ever put on in the Champions League, against Barcelona, and was still being touted as perhaps the most technically proficient and talented young midfielder England had ever seen.

"I believe as well there was always a huge pressure on him to come back as quickly as possible and to expect a lot. He was injured at the end of last season so he came back later than everybody else".

Arsene Wenger was prepared to allow the 25-year-old, who spent last season on loan at Bournemouth, leave, while Wilshere is understood to have assessed his options.

Cologne head coach Peter Stoger wanted to land a team such as Arsenal in the draw and feels Wenger's side are the strongest in the competition at this stage.

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"To play the first game (of the) Champions League, then to win with a good result, to score many goals, to finish the game with a clean sheet".

"This is a different competition and we want to win every competition we play in, but we don't calculate that this is the best way to the Champions League qualification". The team which started at Highbury that night was essentially that which delivered the double: David Seaman, Lee Dixon, Adams, Steve Bould, Nigel Winterburn, Ray Parlour, Emmanuel Petit, Patrick Vieira, Marc Overmars, Dennis Bergkamp and Ian Wright. Latvian striker Artjoms Rudnevs is the only player the Koln boss does not have at his disposal ahead of the trip to Emirates on Thursday, missing out due to illness. There should only be one focus this season and the Europa League is not it. "Every game is an opportunity for him and this season is a good opportunity for him as well".

The Arsenal manager said, "a few players have had some response to playing two worldwide games like Ozil and Ramsey, so they are rested completely". The fact that winning the Europa League would bring both that and a piece of silverware is what makes it so appealing, particularly as the north Londoners are widely considered outsiders in the race for the top four back home.

Alexis Sanchez will be involved against Cologne in an attempt to build his match fitness for Sunday's game and there will also be opportunities for other high-profile internationals who have slipped out of the starting team lately, notably Olivier Giroud, Theo Walcott, Jack Wilshere and Per Mertesacker.


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