After an eventful evening, Arsenal ran out 3-1 winners in our first Europa League fixture after an early scare.
20,000 Cologne fans had marched through London, and somehow got tickets for the Arsenal parts of the stadium, causing the game to be delayed by an hour after fighting and charges by the away fans left The Emirates in a state of disarray and on the pitch, we couldn’t have got off to a more awful start.
Ospina had come out to clear a ball, which wasn’t cleared well enough, and was lashed back over his head from 40 yards, Seaman would have been proud. 0-1 Cologne, and the crowd was going nuts. Flares, dogs on the pitch, boiler suits, peeeeeeeeeanuts, it was like the old days before Sky where violence, pitch invasions and peeeeeeeeeanuts were a weekly occurrence.
The players looked shell shocked, and to be fair did well to go in at the break just 1-0 down, no players could be singled out as playing well, and things weren’t looking good.
Anyway, Wenger changed things around, bringing on Kolasinac, who smashed home an equaliser, before revealing a Schalke t-shirt under his Arsenal shirt to wind up the already wound up Cologne fans. Sanchez, who was still looking rusty then pulled out a moment of brilliance and swayed the game our way (as he tends to do), wiggling away from three players before bending an unstoppable shot in to the top corner for 2-1.
Bellerin, who had been disappointing also came good and drove home a third after Jack Wilshere’s(!) clever dummy had sent seventeen Cologne players back to Germany. Theo also played a part, having his shot parried into Bellerin’s path, 3-1, game over.
To be fair, after the excitement of the absolute deluge of Cologne fans, it looked fairly good natured, however, a lot of Arsenal fans had already left, and there were somehow just five arrests during the game. I hope the Arsenal fans made it home safe and sound, despite the chaos. In summary, the game was a lot more enjoyable than the usual boring Champions League blandness, and we got off to a winning start, so onwards and upwards!