Press conference

Wenger on Cologne fans and kick-off delay

Arsene Wenger says that he and our players “waited patiently” in the dressing room after our opening Europa League game was delayed by crowd safety issues.

We eventually got underway at 9.05pm (UK time) - an hour later than scheduled - and this was the manager’s take on it:

on how difficult the delayed kick-off was…
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.

on whether it was the right decision to play the game…
If nothing happens after the game, yes.

on if he thinks the delay is why we had a 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.

on number of Cologne fans being a surprise…
They were very clever. I don’t know how they managed to infiltrate our fans and get everywhere but they did that very well.

on if it affected our game…
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.

on how disturbing it is that so many Cologne fans got in…
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.

on if Uefa should take action against Cologne…
They are the only master to analyse the facts, what happened. They will certainly make an inquiry to see what happened, for sure.

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