Arsenal vs Cologne: Seven senior players to miss Gunners' Europa League clash

Arsenal Defender Takes Swipe at Rivals' Spending & Insists Team Building Is the Most Important Thing

On Thursday night, at the unusual and unfamiliar time of 8:05 p.m. BST, Arsenal's demotion on the European stage will become reality when they kick off their opening game of the Europa League group stage at home to FC Koln.

"For a striker it's always important to score, the statistics are very important, and I keep it in a part of my mind, but the most important thing for me is to win and after that the goals will come", he said. In Group H, Arsenal get their maiden campaign in Europe's second-tier club competition up and running when they play hosts to FC Koln at Emirates.

"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".

Arsenal have not begun a season outside the Champions League since 1997 and now face the Thursday-Sunday pattern of games which other managers have bemoaned in the past.

Francis Coquelin will also miss the tie and will be out for the next three weeks after injuring his hamstring against Bournemouth on Saturday. "Three days is plenty of time to recover".

However, the likes of Alexis Sanchez, Olivier Giroud and Hector Bellerin were all involved in the first team training session at London Colney, suggesting that they are likely to be involved in some capacity.

The German goalkeeper, who is admittedly an Arsenal fan, has already amassed over 150 appearances for his boyhood club, and is rated as one of the most promising young goalkeepers in Germany.

Asked if he can get back to his best, Wenger replied: "Yes, if he is injury-free he will come back".

The match against Koln, though, is a tricky opening outing, with several of Wenger's first-team players set to be rested, with one eye on the weekend's clash against Chelsea.

"Every game is an opportunity for him and this season".

"[The] Europa League is a very important competition for us".

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