Arsene Wenger praised Cologne’s spirited defence but made clear the Bundesliga’s bottom side were lucky to beat Arsenal 1-0, courtesy of a generous penalty.
The Gunners’ second string dominated possession throughout but struggled to create regular clear-cut chances on a tricky pitch. Ultimately, the defeat didn’t matter as a draw between Partizan Belgrade and BATE Borisov ensured top spot in the group.
Speaking after the match, Wenger reflected: “We had a lot of possession. We lost the game to one shot, basically. It was a very nice penalty that we have to take on board. It was honestly not a penalty at all.
“We missed a little bit of the accuracy in our passing in the final third that is required to score more goals. We had plenty of dangerous situations but we always missed a little something to finish our chances.
“I must also say that Cologne defended with spirit, with commitment and overall the crowd was absolutely fantastic for them.”
Wenger opted to start with an experienced XI before introducing youthful flair from the bench. While the result may not have gone the way of his side, he still had praise for his squad:
“I must say that the attitude was good. It took us some time to inject some pace into the game. In the second half, it was much quicker. The pitch was a little handicapped tonight, and the players were because of it, but I cannot fault the preparation or the concentration of the players.”
Asked about what finishing top of the group means for Arsenal’s chances in the competition, the boss added: “I don’t know. I will tell you after the draw. You feel you have done the job to finish top of the group. 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. What does it really mean? I don’t know. It’s what we wanted.”