Former Arsenal and FC Koln forward Tony Woodcock has backed the Gunners to beat his other old club in this evening’s Europa League meeting at the Emirates.

Woodcock spent four years at Arsenal in the 1980s and played for FC Koln in the years either side of that spell, so he has a foot in both camps.

The former striker remains a big Köln fan but noted that they’ve been struggling a bit recently, saying in the Daily Mail: “More recently they’ve been through some difficult spells.

They’ve been relegated and come back, and they’ve been out of Europe for a long time. I was at the game last season when they qualified for the Europa League. The place went nuts.

“They’ve started the season badly. They haven’t won a game yet and they’re struggling for goals after selling Anthony Modeste in a big-money move to China.

“They don’t have any real star players, but what they do have is a team with identity. I think eight of their players are from Cologne. And while they might struggle this week, the atmosphere when Arsenal play there will be amazing.”

The Gunners will hope that Köln do struggle at the Emirates, because there’s no better way to kick off a new European campaign than with all three points. As long as you win all your home games in Europe, I believe you can play for draws in the away matches and still qualify for the knockout stages with 12 points.

However, Arsenal might have a bit more of a challenge than expected given they’re set to rest a lot of players from the first-team. It’s hard to judge exactly how well a rotated side will play, but the Gunners are big favourites due to their 100% on home soil this season, coupled with FC Koln having lost three of their last four games in all competitions.

Either way it promises to be an exciting game for me. The Köln fans have already arrived in London in numbers and are sure to be up for their first European night in years. The Gunners need to block out the noise and get the job done.

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