After Arsenal’s 1-0 defeat away to FC Cologne on Thursday evening, Rob Holding revealed that Per Mertesacker had known Sehrou Guirassy was going to dive, which is why he pulled out of the challenge.

Holding is unconvinced that FC Cologne should have been given their penalty during their 1-0 Europa League win over Arsenal. In fact, he claims that Mertesacker predicted Guirassy was going to go over.

“I was on the right hand-side, so I just saw Per and Debuchy squeeze him out, push him away from the ball and trip over him. I’ll have a look at it and see if it was the right decision, but first thoughts I didn’t think it was,” said the 22-year-old.

“I haven’t really spoken to him [Debuchy] about it, I spoke to Per about it and he said he pulled out of [the challenge] because he knew what he [Guirassy] was going to do.

“I think we dominated the possession and had most of the chances and got a questionable penalty decision, but that’s the way it is sometimes. We tried hard to break them down, but just couldn’t get that goal.

“I didn’t know if the results had gone for us, but [they did] and that was the target for us, to finish top. That’s a positive to take into the next round.”

Mathieu Debuchy was the Arsenal player to make contact, albeit soft, with Guirassy in the box, which led to referee Vladislav Bezborodov pointing to the spot. The 21-year-old FC Cologne forward made no mistake in smacking the ball into the back of the net, over David Ospina who dived to his right.

FC Cologne only had four shots on goal during the entire game, three of which were on target, and this was one of them. Therefore, you can understand why Arsene Wenger also felt a tad frustrated after the final whistle.

“We had a lot of possession. We lost the game to one shot, basically,” Wenger said post-match.
“It was a very nice penalty that we have to take on board. It was honestly not a penalty at all.
“We missed a little bit of the accuracy in our passing in the final third that is required to score more goals. We had plenty of dangerous situations but we always missed a little something to finish our chances.”

The Gunners had 16 shots, seven of which were on target, against the Bundesliga side. However, we simply weren’t clinical enough in the final third, which I’m pretty sure we should start printing on t-shirts.

Nonetheless, Arsenal top their Europa League group and have qualified for the next round as group winners with one game remaining.

Happy days.