Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud has dispelled suggestions that the Gunners will take the Europa League lightly, insisting that they are aiming to win the competition.
The north Londoners begin their campaign at home to Cologne on Thursday evening, having failed to qualify for the more prestigious Champions League for the first time in 20 years.
Manager Arsene Wenger is expected to rest a raft of first-team players but Giroud, who could score his 100th goal for the club against the Bundesliga strugglers, is adamant that Arsenal want the trophy.
“For a striker it’s always important to score, the statistics are very important, and I keep it in a part of my mind, but the most important thing for me is to win and after that the goals will come,” he said.
“We are very focused on this Europa League, we want to go and win it, we are very ambitious and I am looking forward to the game.”
Wenger has confirmed that playmaker Mesut Ozil and midfielder Aaron Ramsey will not play, citing residual fatigue from last week’s international matches.
Strikers Alexandre Lacazette and Danny Welbeck, midfielder Granit Xhaka, defender Laurent Koscielny and goalkeeper Petr Cech also sat out training, suggesting they will be saved for Sunday’s Premier League trip to Chelsea.
Forward Alexis Sanchez could play in order to regain match fitness, following his delayed start to the season, while injury-plagued Jack Wilshere is in contention for a first Arsenal appearance since May 2016.
Cologne finished fifth in Germany’s top division last term but are currently rock-bottom, having lost all three matches, scoring just once.