Arsene Wenger says he was pleased with the second half impact and goals of Sead Kolasinac and Alexis Sanchez as Arsenal shook off a poor first half performance to beat Cologne 3-1 in their Europa League debut.
The Gunners struggled to find any fluidity as they started the game with a 3-5-2 formation, however, after switching Rob Holding for Kolasinac and switching to a 4-4-2 they soon found a cutting edge to slice through the visitors’ defence.
“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,” he told his post-game press conference.
“Sanchez played very deep in the first half and when he had more support on the flanks from Kolasinac he became more dangerous.”
On Alexis, who was full of energy but little final product in the opening 45 minutes, he added, “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.”
Wenger also made clear his squad had been focused on the job at hand despite the club dropping down from the Champions League for the first time in his tenure.
“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.”