Arsene Wenger praises ‘exceptional’ Alexis Sanchez after fine show in Arsenal win over Cologne

Arsene Wenger praised the “exceptional” Alexis Sanchez after his fine goal helped Arsenal to a 3-1 Europa League win over Cologne on Thursday.

Sanchez scored Arsenal’s second at the Emirates in their Group H clash, after the Germans had initially taken the lead early on.

After his highly-publicised summer transfer saga, Sanchez was back to his best in front of the Gunners fans, and Wenger says Sead Kolasinac’s introduction at the break also helped the Chilean, as did the change from a three-man defence to a four.

“Sanchez came alive in the second half,” said Wenger. “He is still fighting to come back to his best physically, but Sanchez is Sanchez. He’s an exceptional footballer.

“I moved to a four in the second half, [Sead] Kolasinac I think gave us a lot going forward, but as well he pushed Sanchez forward, who played deep in the first half.

“When he had more support on the flanks from Kolasniac he became more dangerous.”

Wenger admitted Arsenal started slowly after the delayed kick off, but insists the second half showing was “one-way traffic”.

“I believe we had a little bit of a slow start, our combinations were too slow, and on top of that, we were shocked by the stunner that they scored.

“From then on it was important we did not panic and to keep control of the game.

“In the second half I believe our team was better balanced better equipped going forward.

“I changed it at half-time, and second half was one-way traffic. It was just a question of time, overall I think we won it in a convincing way.”

Wenger was unsure whether to put the slow start down to the hour delays for crowd safety reasons, and says Cologne were in the same position as them.

“It’s difficult to say, it was similar for Cologne. I don’t know if it was mental, or the fact they scored the goal and we didn’t know how to deal with it. But our game was a little bit too slow.

“I don’t think [it affected our team]. I think we were playing too deep, and didn’t put enough pressure on them.”

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