Wenger Reflects On Cologne
There were a number of talking points from the Europa League tie in midweek against Cologne and Arsene Wenger covered them in his post game press conference.
Hosting the side at the Emirates Stadium, it was an interesting night shall we say for a variety of reasons, but going behind after nine minutes hadn't been part of the plan.
Thankfully, in a much changed side, goals from Sead Kolasinac, Alexis Sanchez and Hector Bellerin in the second half saw us take the three one victory.
Speaking to the Official Site as he met with the media post game, Wenger knew that Kolasinac's introduction from the bench was certainly a changing point in the game.
'I believe we had a little bit of a slow start and our combinations were too slow. On top of that we were shocked by the stunner that they scored. Overall from then on it was important not to panic and to keep control of the game and in the second half I believe our team was better balanced and better equipped going forward. I changed it at half-time and in the second half it was just a question of time. Overall, I believe we won in a convincing way.'
Moving onto Kolasinac's introduction, he went on to say.
'I moved to a four at the back in the second half and Kolasinac gave us a lot going forward, but as well he pushed Sanchez more forward. Sanchez played very deep in the first half and when he had more support on the flanks from Kolasinac he became more dangerous. Football is football. Once you are on the football pitch, if you love football, you play. You don`t wonder what kind of cup it is when you sit in the dressing room. You want to play football and we played against a good team tonight. A Bundesliga team is always difficult to beat.'
As for Alexis.
'I think in the second half he became alive. He`s still running, fighting to come back to his best physically. But Alexis is Alexis - he`s an exceptional player and even if he`s not completely back today. physically, he is an exceptional football player and he can deliver a decisive pass or a goal at any moment. For us, tonight he gave some great balls and in the second half of course he scored. He can always create something special.'
As for the delay in the game with it not actually getting underway until 9.05pm, Wenger went on to say.
'We waited patiently in our dressing room but what was difficult was for me was I had all kind of plans to think about at some stage. I had to think if we play tomorrow at what time do we want to play, do we play next week...but they have the Bundesliga again in midweek, and we had a League Cup game midweek as well. Do we move it to Tuesday and play Thursday? It was all kind of speculations you know that we had to analyse and see how we can deal with the situation. But in the end at some stage I thought they would not play the game, because I can`t see the police taking any risk. We live in a society of 100 per cent security and I thought they would never take a gamble to play this game when I saw the images around the stadium. But I must say our supporters as well dealt well with the situation as well and there was no aggravation. I hope everything goes well after the game.'
Asked whether the delay contributed to our slow start.
'It`s difficult to say. It was similar for Cologne but we had some problems to get off, to start, yes. I don`t know, was it mental? Was it the fact that they scored the goal and we didn`t know how to deal with it? But our game was a bit too slow. No, I don`t think so. I felt that we were playing too deep, all of us, and didn`t put enough pressure on them.'
Speaking about the Cologne fans, he added.
'Look, I`ve followed German football for a long time and I thought Cologne had not played in Europe for 25 years. On the first night they go out [to play], they spoil their night. I couldn`t understand that. Were the problems created by people who had no tickets? I don`t know. But certainly they had more people here than tickets so that was certainly the cause. We left that to the police - I`m not better informed than you. I just had to speculate on if the game was not played, what would we do.'
Obviously with Chelsea up next, he went on to say.
'Our record at Stamford Bridge is because in recent years, Chelsea had a great team always and it was always difficult to win there. But our record against Chelsea recently has been good. We won at the Emirates last year, we won the FA Cup final and on penalties in the Community Shield so let`s just continue to focus on the quality of our game and not too much where we play. Chelsea looked comfortable after 20 minutes in midweek against Qarabag but that doesn`t bother me. I think we need to focus on our performance and play our game.'