Arsene Wenger insists he will not use the Europa League as an excuse for a poor performance when Arsenal play rivals Chelsea on Sunday. "If you are going to get knocked out, you are better off doing it early on so you can concentrate on the other trophies".
The Gunners face the Bundesliga side in their first game in Europe's secondary competition since losing the 2000 UEFA Cup final to Galatasaray.
Arsene Wenger revealed that he will take the competition "seriously" but admitted rotation will occur during the group stages as Arsenal look to challenge on all fronts.
"As a top club you are expected to play two-three times a week so we have to be able to cope with that". "When you play Wednesday-Saturday it's similar to Thursday-Sunday".
Asked if he can get back to his best, Wenger replied: "Yes, if he is injury-free he will come back".More news: Apple Watch Series 3 and Apple TV 4K unveiled in California
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"He had been out so many times after suffering bad tackles and had just come back from a fracture". "This season is a good opportunity for him as well".
The match against Koln, though, is a tricky opening outing, with several of Wenger's first-team players set to be rested, with one eye on the weekend's clash against Chelsea. Arsenal my have had a battle-hardened core of English veterans, but Wenger nearly immediately brought with him a change of focus toward continental players and methods that saw careers extended and trophies lifted.
London derbies rarely go according to form, but with the Premier League champions making five changes to their starting line-up in midweek, and still completely controlling their European opponents, there is huge cause for concern.
Manchester United finished sixth in the league last season but qualified for the Champions League by winning the Europa League, and while acknowledging the prize on offer in the tournament, Wenger remains adamant that his primary focus will be the league.
That does not necessarily mean it will be a team of inexperienced youngsters as Jack Wilshere could make a long-awaited comeback while Alexis Sanchez may feature as he strives for match sharpness.