Ar­se­nal down Cologne amid crowd trou­ble

New Straits Times - - Sport -

LONDON ground, with an es­ti­mated 20,000 sup­port­ers hav­ing trav­elled from Ger­many de­spite there only be­ing 3,000 away tick­ets.

Ar­se­nal fell be­hind early on to a bril­liant long-range strike from Jhon Cor­doba be­fore bounc­ing back in the sec­ond half, sub­sti­tute Sead Ko­lasinac equal­is­ing be­fore goals from Alexis Sanchez and Hec­tor Bel­lerin saw the Gun­ners to vic­tory.

Af­ter­wards Wenger said he was get­ting ready for the game to be post­poned but was un­cer­tain if the de­layed kick-off was to blame for the Gun­ners’ poor start.

“It’s dif­fi­cult to say,” he said. “It was sim­i­lar for Cologne but we had some prob­lems to get off, to start, yes. I don’t know, was it men­tal?

“We waited pa­tiently in our dress­ing room but what was dif­fi­cult for me was I had all kind of plans to think about at some stage.”

Wenger added: “I had to think if we play to­mor­row at what time do we want to play, do we play next week but they had the Bun­desliga again mid­week and we had a League Cup game mid­week as well.

“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 dealt well with the sit­u­a­tion as well and there was no ag­gra­va­tion.”

Wenger said Cologne sup­port­ers had been “very clever” to get into ar­eas re­served for home sup­port­ers.

“I don’t know how they man­aged to in­fil­trate our fans and get ev­ery­where but they did that very well. I don’t know if they went through Ar­se­nal mem­ber­ship, on the in­ter­net... they did very well.”

Cologne coach Peter Stoeger re­fused to be ques­tioned on the ac­tions of the club’s sup­port­ers: “I have no com­ment about the fans,” he said. “I’m the coach, my job is the team, my job is foot­ball not the fans.”

Mean­while, Cologne and Ar­se­nal have been charged with var­i­ous of­fences as UEFA be­gan dis­ci­plinary pro­ceed­ings yes­ter­day.

UEFA said Cologne had been charged with crowd dis­tur­bances, the set­ting off of fire­works, throw­ing ob­jects and acts of dam­age to the sta­dium.

Ar­se­nal were charged with a breach of safety and se­cu­rity reg­u­la­tions be­cause of a blocked stair­way in the away end, Euro­pean foot­ball’s rul­ing body said in a state­ment.

UEFA’s Ethics and Dis­ci­plinary Body will deal with the case on Thurs­day. Agen­cies


Cologne fans light flares dur­ing the Europa League Group H match against Ar­se­nal at the Emi­rates Sta­dium on Thurs­day.

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