Arsene Wenger admits he thought Arsenal’s Europa League game against Cologne would be called off after crowd issues.
Kick-off was delayed by an hour until 9:05pm as thousands of ticketless Cologne fans gathered outside the Emirates leaving home supporters unable to gain entrance through turnstiles.
Scuffles broke out inside the ground as it emerged Cologne fans had gained access to home sections once gates were opened, with Metropolitan Police deploying additional officers and dogs to the stadium in response.
Four people were arrested on suspicion of public order offences.
Cologne fans across the stadium could be seen celebrating as Wenger’s side were rocked by an early goal from Jhon Cordoba, before Arsenal came back in the second half to win 3-1 – but the Gunners boss revealed he had been contemplating the match not even happening at one stage.
“We waited patiently in our dressing room,” said Wenger. “But it was difficult for me, I had all kinds of plans to think about at some stage. Do we play tomorrow, what time do we want to play, do we play next week?
“They had the Bundesliga game next week, we had a league cup game next week, do we move it to Tuesday and play Thursday?
“All kinds of situations we had to analyse. At some stage I thought they will not play the game, because I can’t see the police taking any risk.
“We live in a 100 per cent security society and I thought they would not take a gamble to play this game. But I must say our supporters dealt well with the situation and there was no aggravation. I hope everything goes well after the game.”
Asked if it was the right decision for the game to go ahead, Wenger replied: “If nothing happens after the game, yes.”
Wenger expects UEFA to open an inquiry into the spectator issues, admitting he did not know how away fans had been able to gain access to the home sections of the stadium.
“They were very clever,” said Wenger. “I don’t know how they managed to infiltrate our fans and get everywhere. I don’t know if they went through Arsenal membership, on the internet, but they did well.
“Certainly they had more people here than tickets.”
Cologne manager Peter Stoger refused to comment on the crowd issues at the Emirates, saying “my job is to talk about football not fans”.