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Aug 22, 2013

Koscielny injury mars Arsenal UCL win

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger was left angered after Laurent Koscielny suffered a deep gash to his skull during the Gunners’ 3-0 Champions League play-off win at Fenerbahce.

Brassell:  UCL tightrope brings the best out of Gunners
Limbert:  Calm Arsenal get the job done

The victory in Turkey takes Arsenal to the brink of a 16th successive group stage participation but the injury to Koscielny -- caused by a clash with Fener striker Pierre Webo -- was a major concern for Wenger.

"Koscielny has opened very deeply, the skull, and we had to take him to hospital,” Wenger said. “I was not happy with the kick because I feel always that you can ease a bit off.

"Only the player in the end will know what he did. We are concerned because we had to send him to hospital to see if he has not broken a bone.”

Arsenal physio Colin Lewin described the injury as one of the worst cuts he’d ever seen, though Koscielny was later able to fly back to England with his team-mates. It remains to be seen whether the Frenchman will be available for the Gunners’ Premier League trip to Fulham on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Wenger praised his side for responding to their opening day domestic defeat by taking a giant step towards qualification for the group stages of the Champions League.

Kieran Gibbs, Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud kick-started the Gunners’ season in Europe as they eased their way past the Turkish side.

The victory was a far-cry from the club’s 3-1 defeat to Aston Villa, a game in which Koscielny also came off early -- after being sent off.

And Wenger said it was vital for his team to banish the misery of Saturday’s defeat to avoid a potential slip-up in Istanbul.

“It was a banana skin because the atmosphere was very heated,” Wenger said. “I think we controlled the game and, of course, we wanted a great response after the disappointment on Saturday.

“We are now in a strong position but we want to finish the job next Tuesday.“We could have been a little bit shaky after what happened on Saturday, so for us it was very important to start on the front foot. That was vital tonight for us and we did it well.”

Goalscorer Ramsey agreed with his manager, admitting the Villa defeat had spurred the players into action.

“It wasn't the ideal start to the Premiership (sic) but we bounced back tonight,” the Welshman told Sky Sports 1. “We played really well as a team. We've been under a lot of criticism of late but it was vital that we stayed switched on and got a great result here, which we did.

“We look very comfortable now going back to the Emirates for the second leg.”

Arsenal attacker Theo Walcott was also in a celebratory mood, but it was tempered the knowledge there was still the second-leg to come at the Emirates.

“It felt like, with the tempo of game, we dominated it in the centre of park and if we kept on going at a high intensity we'd get a goal, and we did that,” Walcott said. “It was three great goals and it's a great result going to the Emirates now on Tuesday night.

“It’s nice and comfortable but we've got to be professional on Tuesday. They're going to want to come and make it up to the fans for tonight and we have to be ready for that.”

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