Official AFC News

Centre back Rob gives his take on the call that cost us the game in Cologne on Thursday

Arsene Wenger picks out our best performers from our Europa League game in Germany

The boss gives the latest on the forward’s fitness following a 45-minute appearance against Cologne

Arsene Wenger on the manner of our defeat in Cologne and the significance of finishing top of our group

Sehrou Guirassy scores from the spot in the second half for the hosts to beat us, but we finish top of Group H

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According to Inside World Football, Alisher Usmanov is in the running to become majority shareholder at Belgian side Anderlecht. The Brussels outfit are on the lookout for a new owner and are currently weighing up proposals from a number of interested parties. It is said that a 75% stake would cost around €80 million. The […]

Hector Bellerin says that Arsenal have to keep working hard to replicate the performance that brought about Saturday’s 2-0 win over Sp*rs, but that the display and win will have silenced some of the critics. Before the game the build-up was all about power shifts and how much the visitors would win by, risible combined […]

Shkodran Mustafi says Arsenal’s North London derby victory over Sp*rs is proof that Arsene Wenger’s squad have character even if their critics continue to write them off. The Germany international returned from injury to head the Gunners into the lead on 37 minutes and was in imperious form throughout as the home side protected a […]

Borussia Dortmund have responded to a story in the Mirror about Michael Zorc being appointed Director of Football at Arsenal, playing down any possible departure and calling it nonsense. The 55 year old is the latest in a long list of names linked a new football executive role at the club, joining the likes of […]

Arsene Wenger has dismissed Tottenham’s complaints that Arsenal’s goals yesterday were offside. The 2-0 win at the Emirates put the old enemy back in their box, and afterwards manager Mauricio Pochettino grumbled about marginal decisions, and even suggested that Granit Xhaka could have been sent off. As you would expect, there wasn’t much sympathy from […]

There is a limit to how much genuine disappointment Arsène Wenger will carry from Cologne after a flat performance and narrow Europa League defeat for his understudies. Arsenal qualified as group winners, despite a going-through-the-motions 90 minutes with few redeeming features, and all the while his most valued personnel stayed at home with their feet up. This game was, bizarrely, more of a silver lining than a cloud.

“You feel you have done the job and finished top of the group and we play the final game against Borisov with not much at stake apart from the fact we want to win the game,” said Wenger, a summation that crystalised the relaxed nature of this situation.

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Arsenal won their Group H despite losing to the Bundesliga’s worst team

8.01pm GMT

Arsenal’s unbeaten Europa League run is over, but they’ve still won their group with a game to spare after Red Star Belgrade’s draw with Bate Borisov. That means Arsene Wenger can play his third string against Bate next month. Cologne go level on six points with second-placed Red Star; Bate are bottom with five points. Intriguing. Looking at the replays, Wenger won’t be happy with Cologne’s penalty. He might want to ask a few questions, too, of his reserve players after this defeat to the Bundesliga’s bottom side, though. They haven’t done themselves many favours tonight. That’s all from me. The mystery prize was knowing you’ve given the Guardian a few precious clicks. Suckers. Bye.

7.54pm GMT

Noise!

7.52pm GMT

90 min+2: Nketiah tees up Wilshere, who sees his rising 20-yard drive pushed over by Timo Horner! Horner claims the corner to huge roars.

7.50pm GMT

90 min: Red Star Belgrade have drawn 0-0 with Bate Borisov, meaning that Arsenal will win the group even if they don’t find an equaliser in the next four minutes.

7.49pm GMT

89 min: Reiss Nelson dribbles brilliantly through the middle, weaving past a couple of challenges, but his shot is pushed away by Timo Horner. Wilshere picks up possession and, inspired by Nelson, drives through on the left. His cutback bounces off Nketiah, then a defender and dribbles just wide!

7.48pm GMT

88 min: Guirassy, the goalscorer, is booked for catching Mertesacker.

7.48pm GMT

87 min: Arsenal are doing nothing. Cologne’s fans haven’t stopped singing all night.

7.47pm GMT

84 min: Eddie Nketiah replaces Mathieu Debuchy.

7.42pm GMT

82 min: Eddie Nketiah will be on soon. “Arsenal’s second string are abject tonight,” says Luke Forrester. “You’d think they’d be seizing the opportunity to impress with both hands. What a listless performance. Don’t worry lads -- save yourselves for the important games which you won’t be playing in.”

7.38pm GMT

78 min: Jannes Horn is actually the player who’s in greater need of treatment. He’s off the pitch as Wilshere takes Arsenal’s corner from the right. It’s headed away and Horn comes back on. He looks uncomfortable, but the hosts have made three changes already.

7.36pm GMT

76 min: A long ball over the the top from the rejuvenated Wilshere finds Giroud, who’s onside. His touch is poor, though, allowing Timo Horn and Jannis Horn to converge upon the striker to deny him, conceding a corner in the process. Timo Horn needs some treatment after that collision.

7.34pm GMT

75 min: Uh oh. Wilshere is down after being clobbered on the shins. That’s the last thing he needed. He winces a lot before getting back to his feet.

7.33pm GMT

74 min: Matthias Lehmann, a midfielder, replaces Yuya Osako.

7.32pm GMT

73 min: Elneny’s cross is just too high for Giroud. Iwobi’s dawdling on the edge of the area, having a nice watch.

7.30pm GMT

70 min: Cologne are likely to play on the break now. Arsenal are trying to set up camp in the home side’s half.

7.26pm GMT

67 min: Reiss Nelson replaces Calum Chambers.

7.26pm GMT

66 min: Arsenal look for a response after falling behind. Wilshere’s fierce shot from 20 yards is pushed away by Timo Horn.

7.22pm GMT

63 min: Arsene Wenger has had a rueful chat with the fourth official, but there’s no changing what’s happened: Arsenal are in a game and the stadium is bouncing!

7.22pm GMT

Guirassy is Cologne’s top scorer this season - he has ... three goals. But he takes this penalty confidently, slamming it high down the middle as Ospina dives to his left. The home fans erupt!

7.21pm GMT

61 min: Cologne have stepped it up in the past few minutes and here’s their reward! Guirassy plays a one-two with Jojic, bursts into the area and makes the most of some clumsy contact from Debuchy, going down convincingly enough to make the referee’s mind up!

7.19pm GMT

60 min: A loose clearing header falls to Jojic, who knocks it through to Guirassy. He’s got space on the edge of the area, but he scuffs a dismal shot straight at Ospina.

7.16pm GMT

57 min: The disappointing Cordoba is replaced by Pawel Olkowlski.

7.16pm GMT

56 min: Klunter is booked after a fantastic piece of skill from Iwobi, who lobbed the ball over the defender’s head before being tugged back.

7.13pm GMT

54 min: Cologne haven’t improved much. Arsenal remain dominant.

7.08pm GMT

49 min: Mathieu Debuchy is booked for a late lunge on Guirassy.

7.08pm GMT

48 min: Wilshere plays a lovely one-two with Maitland-Niles, but he’s denied by a superb tackle from Jannes-Kilian Horn.

7.05pm GMT

46 min: Cologne get the second half underway. Alex Iwobi has replaced Danny Welbeck.

6.50pm GMT

See you in 15 minutes.

6.49pm GMT

45 min+2: “Greetings from Cologne! (I am not an Arsenal fan, I just live here),” says Shaun Wilkinson. “Regarding Welbeck, I think he is a good player, but I am not sure he will get in the World Cup squad. He is unlikely to be a regular first choice player for Arsenal I think, and as Gareth Southgate said, to be picked for England these days you have to be playing regular football for your club, like Dominic Solanke.”

6.47pm GMT

45 min: Elneny shoots well over from 30 yards. You’d think he doesn’t have much longer at Arsenal. I know mediocrity doesn’t necessarily get punished that quickly there, but what is he bringing to the party?

6.45pm GMT

43 min: Timo Horn punches Elneny’s free-kick away.

@JacobSteinberg sure, Welbeck would get a spot on my WC squad if he had a good long run. Only problem is that the next thing to happen would be an injury after that run, most likely just in time for the WC... so, I guess not.

6.44pm GMT

42 min: Osako’s cross from the left drifts over everyone.

6.41pm GMT

38 min: Cordoba is having a stinker. He loses possession on the right after dithering on the ball, drawing an angry rebuke from the crowd, then fouls Maitland-Niles. Cologne have been playing with 10 men for the last few minutes. But Konstantin Rausch is finally ready to come on for the stricken Dominic Maroh.

6.38pm GMT

35 min: Welbeck’s cross flashes across the face of goal. Cologne have a problem. Well, they have lots of problems. But this particular one is the sight of Maroh, their captain, down with a hamstring injury.

6.35pm GMT

33 min: The Cologne fans are creating a deafening din. Imagine what they’d be like if their team was any good. As it is, Arsenal look increasingly threatening. They go close again here, but Welbeck’s improvised flick dribbles just wide.

6.33pm GMT

30 min: Giroud scoops a pass inside from the left, finding Coquelin, who bursts into the area, just like Steven Gerrard, only to thrash the bouncing ball against the base of the right post and behind for a goal-kick.

6.32pm GMT

29 min: Maitland-Niles, who looks assured, stands up a cross to the far post from the left byline, but Chambers doesn’t make clean contact with his volley. Chambers started as a midfielder at Southampton, but he doesn’t convince as a right wing-back.

6.30pm GMT

28 min: Cordoba turns niftily on halfway, but his attempt to play Guirassy in is absolutely useless.

6.27pm GMT

24 min: “Welbeck would be in front of Lingard for me, but can’t see him getting into a front two, which appears to Southgate’s game plan at the moment,” says Stuart Morphet. “Kane, Vardy and Rashford all well ahead of him.”

But you’d imagine he’ll take four strikers. If nothing else, Welbeck’s workrate makes him a handy option. Plus you’ll remembering him playing very well in the cup final.

6.23pm GMT

22 min: Play is stopped so Jannes-Kilian Horn can receive treatment on his right thigh.

6.23pm GMT

21 min: Maitland-Niles swings in a cross from the left. Wilshere sends a weak header straight at Timo Horn.

6.21pm GMT

18 min: “I for one am impressed by how Arsenal can put out a completely different team with 9 players who have represented their countries, and Walcott and Iwobi are not even taking part,” says Richard Arthur. “Any news on Walcott, by the way?”

Cleaning Wenger’s office. Or he’s ill. I forget.

6.19pm GMT

17: If Welbeck has a good run and stays free of injury, does he get in your World Cup squad?

6.16pm GMT

14 min: A loose ball ricochets to Coquelin, who spanks a venomous shot just wide from 25 yards. “With today’s “entertainment” serving as inspiration, what football match that you have had to watch professionally or otherwise was the most mundane possible proposition?” says Zack Gomperts. “Not, a crap tie that turned out good, but the most grey possible example of football’s overabundance.”

David Moyes 0-0 Jose Mourinho was appalling in August 2013.

6.15pm GMT

12 min: Maitland-Niles twists and turns on the left, almost bursting past his man and into the area, but Sorensen steps across to mop up. Cologne break down the right, taking advantage of the space vacated by Maitland-Niles, but Cordoba wastes possession.

6.12pm GMT

10 min: Giroud falls over because someone went near him and looks plaintively at the Russian referee, who urges him to get back on his feet.

6.12pm GMT

9 min: Cologne are stroking the ball around confidently enough for the time being. Not much happening, though.

6.08pm GMT

6 min: Cologne attack for the first time, Cordoba steaming clear down the right. He crosses, to no one in particular and not very well - to the extent that the ball’s heading into the far corner until the diving Ospina claws it wide. The corner comes to nothing.

6.07pm GMT

4 min: “Oh oh oh!” says Zack Gomperts. “I love a mystery! A t-shirt with your face printed on it!? A mug with, I Watched A Meaningless Europa League Group Tie and All Guardian Media Gave Me Was This Stupid Mug? A peak at the official media bias guide to which all football journalists must strictly abide? A ticket to your new stand up special Jacob and the Steinbergs? I HAVE TO KNOW!”

6.04pm GMT

2 min: Arsenal are quick to storm forward, Welbeck finding Wilshere, who instantly carves Cologne open with a pass through to Maitland-Niles. Through on goal, the wing-back sees his goalbound shot turned behind by Horn, who proceeds to claim Elneny’s corner.

6.03pm GMT

Peep! Arsenal, in blue and white, get the game underway in a rollocking atmosphere. They’re kicking from left to right in the first half. Cologne are in red.

6.00pm GMT

Before kick-off, a minute’s applause in memory of former Cologne and Germany legend Hans Schafer.

Related: Hans Schäfer obituary

5.58pm GMT

The teams are out. The stadium is impressively packed and noisy given Cologne’s perilous position after an awful start to the season. The Germans are missing a through key players through injury, but a win tonight will maintain their slim hopes of reaching the knockout phase.

5.48pm GMT

“Great that there’s a prize,” says Charles Antaki. “I assume it’s some fancy goods, in time for Christmas stockings, so it’ll be either Eau de Cologne, or er, Water of Arsenal?”

It’s a mystery prize, Charles.

5.14pm GMT

BANTER LATEST

Some basic guidelines for Thursday night's @EuropaLeague match. #ReturnoftheGOAT pic.twitter.com/UKaPxkRcYI

5.12pm GMT

Cologne: T Horn; Sorensen, Maroh, Mere; Klunter, Ozcan, Jojic, JK Horn; Cordoba, Osako, Guirassy. Subs: Kessler, Olkowski, Risa, Lehmann, Rausch, Nartey, Bisseck.

Arsenal: Ospina; Debuchy, Mertesacker, Holding; Chambers, Elneny, Coquelin, Maitland-Niles; Wilshere; Welbeck, Giroud. Subs: Macey, Sheaf, Willock, Nelson, Iwobi, Nketiah, Akpom.

1.23pm GMT

Hello. With Cologne no doubt braced for an invasion of ticketless Arsenal fans, it’s bound to be another cracking night of Europa League fun. The Germans can still go through despite being bottom of the group, but they arguably have bigger things to think about given that they’re also propping up the Bundesliga table. Arsenal, meanwhile, have already sealed their progress and have left Claude, Ty and Troopz the big hitters at home in order to give the reserves a runout. Hmm. It’s going to be terrible, isn’t it. So it’s just as well that everyone who sticks with this MBM right through to the bitter end receives a MYSTERY PRIZE.

Kick-off: 6pm GMT.

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Today’s tell-all stayed up too late watching cricket

After providing the assist for all seven of PSG’s goals by opening the scoring for Celtic in the first minute at Parc des Princes last night, Moussa Dembélé is today being linked with a move to Manchester United. After scoring 32 goals in 48 games last season, the 21-year-old was courted by West Ham, Arsenal and Chelsea, among others, but remained at Celtic Park for this season’s Champions League campaign. L’Equipe report that the France U-21 international has already begun talks with United with a view to moving to Old Trafford next summer. Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers is resigned to losing Dembélé and the striker is likely to have no shortage of suitors.

The French sports daily also claim that PSG have offered Manchester United totem pole Marouane Fellaini a four-year deal and say Liverpool are interested in rescuing Julian Draxler from his Parisian purgatory in January. The 24-year-old has struggled for game time with the Ligue 1 leaders since they signed Kylian Mbappé and Neymar in the summer and may miss out on a spot in Germany’s World Cup squad if he doesn’t secure a move elsewhere.

Related: Prospering promoted sides precipitated Premier League clubs’ rush to sack | Paul Wilson

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Today’s fluff is only just warming up

After a busman’s holiday to Gelsenkirchen proved so fruitful in landing Sead Kolasinac in the summer, Arsène Wenger has tasked Arsenal’s new recruitment head honcho, Sven Mislintat, with wooing his former team-mate Leon Goretzka to north London. The 22-year-old Schalke midfielder is out of contract at the end of the season, meaning the Bundesliga club could cash in on their prized asset come January. Failing that, the goalscoring playmaker may be available on a free transfer a few months later. Wenger, though, will face stiff competition from Bayern Munich and Juventus for Goretzka’s signature. And the excitement stirred by a new signing would likely be short-lived, with any arrival all but guaranteeing Mesut Özil’s protracted exit from the Emirates Stadium.

Related: Sven Mislintat, the scout Arsenal hope can revive their talent-spotting fortunes

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Arsenal’s new head of recruitment brought Robert Lewandowski to Borussia Dortmund – now Arsenal hope he can unearth similar gems for them

The decision to leave Borussia Dortmund to join Arsenal was not one Sven Mislintat made in a hurry. This sounds typical of a thoughtful, down-to-earth man who has made his reputation by looking, listening and trying to get a full picture rather than acting on rash instinct.

Related: Arsenal appoint Dortmund scout Sven Mislintat as head of recruitment

Related: Shkodran Mustafi insists Arsenal have the self-belief to prove doubters wrong

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