REUTERS – Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has thanked the English for their show of solidarity following Friday’s attacks in Paris.
The French coach was in the city when at least 129 people were killed in a wave of attacks, which included three suicide bombings outside the stadium where France were playing Germany in a friendly.
Wenger said on Thursday that he was due to attend the game but was running late and watched the carnage unfold from his hotel room.
He attended the friendly between England and France at Wembley on Tuesday, when the two nations’ soccer fans united by singing the French national anthem, while the stadium’s famous arch was lit up in the colours of the French flag.
“I want to thank the English community who showed great solidarity. It was a huge shock for our country,” Wenger told reporters at a news conference ahead of Saturday’s Premier League game against West Bromwich Albion.
“The arch of Wembley in French colours was very significant.
“It showed the class of England,” he added.
“Everybody who was in Paris on Friday night was in shock. France is like England — a tolerant and generous country. You have a bit more of a question of security, because it looks like it’s not the end of it.
“We have to get on with life and respond in a positive way. We have to get people to focus on something else.
“The football world has responded the way you want it to respond — in a big union and togetherness.
“You always think after this kind of event, ‘Do you continue to play or do you stop your life?’ For me they (the organisers) made the right decision and the event on Tuesday night has shown it was the right decision,” Wenger said.
Turning to Saturday’s game, Wenger said West Brom would prove tough opposition. The Gunners have not lost at the Hawthorns since October 2005, but Wenger praised his opposite number Tony Pulis.
“They are an organised team. Tony Pulis is fully committed. You expect a physical and fast game,” the 66-year-old said.
Wenger confirmed that injured duo Aaron Ramsey and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain would miss the game, but that right back Hector Bellerin was available.
(Reporting by Shravanth Vijayakumar in Bengaluru; editing by Toby Davis)