Gunners and Toffees

Everton and Arsenal start their Europa League campaigns with the first Thursday of this group stage.

The latter will have some adjustment to do, having spent 20 years in the Champions League. Now they share Europa League football with the likes of FC Koln, Lugano and Skenderbeu.

Can both English sides get their challenge up and running?


Arsenal vs FC Koln (8:05pm)

Arsene Wenger intends to rest several stars ahead of Sunday’s London derby against Chelsea.

Jack Wilshire could be in line for his first Arsenal start since the 2015-16 season. He could well be passing the ball up to Oliver Giroud, who is in line for first start, having been an impact sub so far this season.

This fixture has only been played twice before, back in the 1970-71 Fairs Cup. Arsenal won the tie overall but both sides won their home match.

With this being the Gunner’s first Thursday night game in Europe for years, it’s difficult to say how things will go. They however won a home match vs West Brom during the 2015-16 Premier League season that had to be played on a Thursday night.

Ultimately, given the Gunners’ squad depth, I expect them to comfortably win this.

Prediction: Arsenal 2-0 FC Koln

Result: Arsenal 3-1 FC Koln


Atalanta vs Everton (6:00pm)

Everton are a changed team from the one that reached the 2014-15 quarter final stage, before blowing a first leg lead to Dynamo Kiev and exiting the competition.

Atalanta are however a strong side featuring ex Middlesbrough star, Marten de Roon.

Toffees boss, Ronald Koeman is taking this competition seriously despite missing five players, including Ross Barkley.

Aaron Lennon hasn’t travelled with the team for an unknown reason.

This match is being played at Sassuolo’s Stadio Atleti Azzurri d’Itaali, which neutralises things.

Everton are travelling to Italy off the back of Saturday’s thrashing by Tottenham Hotspur, making a strong performance all the more important.

Both teams haven’t met before now but I think the visitors have enough quality in them to edge this.

Prediction: Atalanta 0-1 Everton





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