It was for largely the wrong reasons, but the supposedly mundane experience of dropping down to the Europa League prompted an evening that will live longer in the memory than most of Arsenal’s last seven years in the Champions League.
The dangerous and chaotic scenes in and around the Emirates will rightly provoke serious questions both of Arsenal and Cologne but, with what was largely a reserve team, the on-field answers from Arsene Wenger’s squad were at least convincing.
Spectacular goals from Sead Kolasinac and Alexis Sanchez helped overcome a 1-0 half-time deficit on what was Cologne’s first European match for 25 years but also underlined how Wenger undoubtedly does have the strength in depth to seriously challenge across all competitions.
“Once you are on the pitch, if you love football, you play,” said Wenger. “You don’t wonder what type of cup competition it is.”
The quandary now is whether to persist with the three-man defence that has looked so shaky this season and was again the formation here during an unconvincing first-half or permanently return to the old 4-2-3-1 system with which Arsenal impressively ended the game. Wenger acknowledged that his team “became better balanced and better equipped” in a second-half that he described with some justification as “one way traffic.”Alexis Sanchez has taken to social media to reveal his happiness at being back “home” at Arsenal after the international break.
The Chile international’s future was a relentless source of speculation towards the end of the summer transfer window as he was linked with a move to Manchester City, but the transfer failed to materialise.
Sanchez will now remain as an Arsenal player until January at the earliest, with his future still up in the air after he entered into the final 12 months of his contract with the Gunners.
However, the 28-year-old appears ready to help the Arsenal cause, if his latest post on social media is anything to go by.
Sanchez shared the pictures above on his personal Instagram account and wrote the caption: “Back Home ⚽️ FOCUS ⚽️ 💪🏽 🔴⚪️”
Arsenal fans will be hoping to see Sanchez in action when the Gunners return to top flight action this weekend
The north London side are aiming to get back to winning ways after their disastrous 4-0 thrashing at the hands of Liverpool at Anfield last time out.
The Gunners are currently 16th in the Premier League table.