Arsene Wenger admits he may have to leave Laurent Koscielny out of the Arsenal side for Saturday’s trip to West Brom as he fears the defender has not recovered from the trauma of the Paris terror attacks.
The Gunners boss, who was in Paris on Friday when at least 129 people were killed, said Koscielny was ‘deeply affected’ by the atrocities and was unrecognisable during France’s 2-0 defeat by England on an emotional Tuesday night at Wembley.
And Wenger will consult the central defender to decide whether he is 100 per cent focused on football before deciding whether he can play at the Hawthorns.
Koscielny played in Friday’s friendly against Germany which was targeted by suicide bombers before both squads spent the night inside the Stade de France because of ongoing security concerns.
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Asked about the difficulty of players focusing on football, Wenger said: “I think Koscielny is a good example because he had a fantastic game against Germany. And you could see that on Tuesday night he was not himself.
“It affected him deeply and I didn’t recognise the player I saw on Friday night on Tuesday night.
“I will talk with him. It’s a big game for us on Saturday, so I will talk to him to see if he is completely recovered and focused.
“You have to trust the player in these situations. Today in the Premier League you don’t get away with it with 80 per cent focus. You have to be completely committed.
Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud also played against Germany and came on as a substitute at Wembley.
And Wenger said: “They both will need to show resilience and desire to play. I will look how deeply they are affected.
“Sometimes it hits you more two or three days later than on the night. On the night you protect yourself or not know what’s going on. But slowly you realise the shock is always a bit after. They have gone through that game but I will talk to them to see how much they are up for it.”
Wenger had been due to attend Friday’s match at the Stade de France but watched the game from a nearby hotel and was shocked by news of the terrorists’ attacks.
He said: “I was not at the game but I was not far from the event and I think everybody who was in Paris on Friday night was in shock. The whole city was shocked.
“France is, like England, a tolerant and generous country and to discover how much your own citizens hate you and hate the country is of course a huge shock for everybody. You wonder what is going on there. Why does this country get this kind of treatment?
“I believe at the moment nobody in France has found an answer or a real explanation for what’s going on and why, because what was targeted was the way of life, basically. Football, going out, listening to music. It’s more way of life that is targeted than any individual community.
“I was more under shock than fearful for my safety, but you could be scared of what was going on because it was four different places attacked in the centre of Paris so you don’t feel secure anywhere.
“I was late for an appointment, I was late to the stadium so I decided to watch the game in the hotel where I was. In the end in the hotel we were quite secure, but the streets were empty, completely empty.”
Despite the traumas of his own players, Wenger insists the French FA president Noel Le Graet was right to declare that the Wembley friendly should go ahead without consulting the players.
He said: “The French Federation decided to play the game. If you make a a vote of players, you might have half who wants to play and half who doesn’t want to play. What do you do then?
“At some stage we have to be responsible adults and show strength and not to lie down. You must stand up and in England you have a history of that, and I felt England have dealt always with the situation very well by saying, ‘Let’s get on with our lives and show we are strong’.”
Wenger praised the response of the FA and England fans during Tuesday’s tributes at Wembley.
He said: “I would like to thank the English community and English football who have shown great solidarity. Of course, it was a shock, a huge shock for our country and our football as well. The football world has responded the way you want it to respond in a big union and a big togetherness.
“You always think after this kind of event: do you continue or do you stop your life, to play? For me they made the right decision and I believe the event on Tuesday night has shown that it was the right decision.
“I think it was fantastic for France and it showed the class of England to see the arch of Wembley in French colours was something that had a strong significance for French people. England handled this situation with a lot of class.”
Wenger claimed that it was an ‘over-reaction’, albeit an understandable one, for Germany’s friendly with Holland to postponed after a security alert but believes it was the right decision for Belgium’s clash with Spain to have been called off as police were targeting Brussels as they hunted fugitive terrorists.
The Arsenal manager said: “I feel the danger in this kind of situation is to over-react a little bit. I think that’s what happened with Germany and Spain-Belgium I’m not sure, because in Belgium was a big centre of terrorists who live there. I think that was cautious. Germany maybe overreacted a little bit but you can understand that.
“You have a bit more of a question of security, because it looks like it’s not the end of it, in France especially.
“A way for us is just to get on with life and to respond in a positive way to the situation, because you cannot cannot stop just everything. We have to continue with our lives and try to get as well people to focus on something else.”