Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger refused to lose sleep over his much-changed side’s Europa League defeat to struggling Bundesliga outfit Cologne as results elsewhere ensured the Gunners finished as group winners.
A successfully-converted penalty from Sehrou Guirassy gave Cologne only their second win in 17 league and European matches this term, but Red Star Belgrade’s goalless draw with Bate Borisov guaranteed Arsenal top spot in Group H.
The north Londoners had already qualified for the competition’s knockout stage, but their showdown with Bate Borisov at Emirates Stadium on 7 December now becomes the very definition of a dead rubber.
“You feel you have done the job to finish top of the group,” said Wenger. “We now play our final game at home against Bate Borisov without much at stake, other than the fact that we want to win the game. It’s what we wanted.”
Wenger also moved to allay fears over the fitness of Danny Welbeck after the injury-plagued striker was withdrawn at half-time, having made his first start for five weeks following a groin injury.
“It was planned before the game that he would only play 45 minutes,” added the Frenchman.
“He has only just come back from injury and we have three more games on Sunday, Wednesday and Saturday again. Medically, the risk was a bit too high to play him for longer because he has been out for a while. He has no problem.”
Guirassy proved Cologne’s match-winner as he confidently dispatched a spot-kick beyond Arsenal’s stand-in goalkeeper David Ospina after defender Mathieu Debuchy had been adjudged to have fouled the French attacker.