Arsenal commence their Europa League campaign tomorrow evening by hosting Bundesliga outfit FC Koln, with the two sides having a very different outlook on their involvement in the competition.
For the Gunners, playing on Thursday night’s in the Europa League is seen as a major disappointment after years playing in the Champions League but their view is a stark contrast to those in Koln, who are delighted to be back on the European stage.
Koln, currently rooted to the bottom of the Bundesliga at this early stage of the season, are set for their first involvement in continental football since 1992 and rubbing shoulders with the likes of Arsenal is something that was unimaginable a few years ago.
Playing in the second-tier of German football just a few years ago, and facing Arsenal in a pre-season friendly, Koln’s rise has been extremely impressive but is often overlooked due to the success of Hoffenheim and RB Leipzig last season.
Both those sides surprisingly finished in the top-four, although Hoffenheim entered the Europa League after a play-off defeat to Liverpool, and Koln’s achievements are rather unfairly not seen in the same light.
Koln will get their chance to shine tomorrow at the Emirates Stadium though and it’s a big day for 24-year-old goalkeeper Timo Horn, a boyhood fan of the German club who admitted he has a soft spot for the Gunners.
“I’ve always thought of Arsene Wenger as a fantastic manager. I like the football culture in England and Arsenal just had something in my view that the other teams didn’t have. I’ve always enjoyed the style of football they try to employ even if they haven’t won that many titles.”
Horn also praised Olivier Giroud, a player he’s likely to be tasked with dealing with tomorrow night as the French striker is expected to lead the line, but made it clear he’s a Koln fan first and foremost.