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Arsenal have not played in the Europa League since losing the 2000 UEFA Cup final to Galatasaray but it could be seen as a route back to the Champions League.
The last time both team faced each other in the 1970/71 Fairs Cup, with the Gunners losing on aggregate on away goals. Arsenal won the home leg 2-1 at Highbury with goals from Frank McLintock and Peter Storey.
Arsene Wenger has confirmed he will rotate his squad for Arsenal’s Europa League opener against Cologne on Thursday against weekends clash with the Premier League Champions Chelsea.
Seven first-team regulars sat out training on Wednesday ahead of the German side’s visit to the Emirates in Group H.
Petr Cech, Laurent Koscielny, Alexandre Lacazette, Mesut Ozil, Danny Welbeck, Aaron Ramsey and Granit Xhaka did not train with the matchday squad despite all being match fit.
But Wenger insists the short turnaround before the trip to Stamford Bridge is not an excuse for poor performance on Thursday night.
“It is a good opportunity to show we can cope,” Wenger said. “We have played on a Wednesday night in Barcelona and against Everton on a Saturday morning.
“When you play Wednesday-Saturday it is similar to Thursday-Sunday. It is a preconceived idea, football is down to how you perform on the day. Three days is plenty of time to recover.
“This [Europa League] is not our best chance of a return [to the Champions League]. It is one of the opportunities. I think the best way to do it is through the Premier League but we want to win every competition we play.”
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