I was already frustrated with Arsenal’s Europa League match away to Cologne, as soon as I saw the team sheets for this encounter. Players being played out of positions coupled with the mix and pairing of players who lack cohesion amongst themselves.
Arsenal lost this match by a single goal and really have themselves to blame, seeming not to concede a goal as the teams’ defensive unit looked highly organised till a very cynical decision by Debuchy allowed the referee award a penalty to the host.
The Gunners lined up in a 3-4-3 formation, fielding; David Ospina, Mathieu Debuchy, Per Mertesacker, Rob Holding, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Mohammed Elneny, Francis Coquelin, Calum Chambers, Danny Welbeck, Jack Wilshere and Olivier Giroud.
The hosts were the first to create the first opportunity of the match, making a bright start and almost opened the scoring after five minutes when Jhon Cordoba fired in a fierce cross-shot that seemed to be heading for the far-post of Arsenal’s David Ospina – but was able to deal with the danger as he pushed away at full stretch.
Soon after, Arsenal came knocking on the host defence as they quickly mustered a threat of their own. Francis Coquelin who is yet to get his first Arsenal goal tried his luck from the edge of the area, with the ball whistling wide. What a goal that would’ve been and what style it would be to grab your first goal for the club.
Maitland-Niles delivered a nice cross to Calum Chambers who ventured forward in the attack but scuffed his strike from a very promising position as he couldn’t line up a decent no-bounce shot.
Moments later, Arsenal came close to opening the scoring as that man (Coquelin) who’s still searching for his first ever Arsenal goal hit the woodwork from a close-range angle.
At the start of the second half, Wenger replaced injury-returnee Danny Welbeck with Alex Iwobi, playing just 45 minutes of football since his last injury. Moments into the second half, Wenger’s side soon had something to worry about when forward Sehrou Guirassy found himself unmarked on the edge of the area only to line up a weak attempt that was well covered by Ospina to stop his effort.
Soon after, the referee awarded a penalty to the home side when forward Sehrou Guirassy went down under the challenge of Mathieu Debuchy. Sehrou Guirassy made no mistake from the spot kick, sending Ospina the wrong way as he gifted his side the lead and only goal of the match.
Arsenal struggled to create clear-cut chances against a disciplined defence, but as the game entered its final quarter of an hour, a fine pass from Wilshere gave Oliver Giroud the chance to run through only for a heavy first touch to scupper the opportunity.
The only positive from this match was the organization of the defence as the host would never have scored had it been the referee didn’t award the host a penalty. On a couple of occasions, we defended 2v1 which is rare to see from the Arsenal and was the only thing that excited me about the match, making it hard for the opposition to penetrate.