Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger “shocked” by Charlie Hebdo massacre in France

Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger

Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger - Credit: Archant

Arsene Wenger has today (Friday) expressed his concern over Wednesday’s shocking attack on the offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

He said: “It is a dreadful and terrible situation; it’s shocking, I think the whole country is shocked.

“France is a country with freedom of speech – it is a big part of its history and to think in a country like France you can die for your ideas and the way you want to speak is absolutely shocking.

“The whole country is united.”

Away from the tragic events in his home country, he tried to butt out any in-depth questioning about errant Arsenal player Wojciech Szczesny who lit up a smoke in the shower after a 2-0 defeat at Southampton on New Year’s Day.

The Arsenal boss tried to make light of the Polish goalkeeper having a crafty cigarette, admitting he too used to be a smoker - apparently Szczesny has apologised to Wenger.

Resorting to humour to quash questioning on Szczesny, Wenger told reporters gathered at today’s conference at Arsenal’s training grounds in London Colney: “I don’t want to talk about that because what happens in our dressing room stays in the dressing room, apart from the fact that it doesn’t stay in there!”

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Looking ahead to the team’s Premier League match against Stoke this weekend, Wenger said: “Ramsey is back in training, as are Ozil and Flamini, so we have got three players back in training.

“Giroud is back from suspension. So we have a bigger squad than last week.”

Asked when Ozil is likely to back on the pitch, Wenger said, “he will have one training session today with the squad for the second time, because he was sick.

“So he will be available for Sunday for selection – will I start him? I haven’t decided yet.

“He is an exceptional football player, and gives you continuity in the game, and is a creative player.

“Ideally you want all your best players available.”

Wenger went on: “Stoke is a good side. At the Emirates we have a good record against them, a very good one, and we just want to continue that.”

Asked whether Szczesny would be back in goal, Wenger replied: “I haven’t selected the first XI yet.”

Grilled on whether the shower room incident was damaging to Arsenal’s image, Wenger paused and said: “I don’t know. I don’t think so. But ideally you want everyone to behave in the perfect way.

“And of course, I like Wojciech as a person. When he makes a mistake, he stands up for it.

“He has contributed a lot to the good image of Arsenal football club. And I think he is a guy who learns from his mistakes.”

But this response ignited further questions from curious journalists, with one asking what would happen if anyone else got caught, and would there be further punishment.

Wenger responded: “No!”

He then continued: “I don’t need to make a big fuss of that. Every club has its internal discipline. I think it doesn’t necessarily need to be [made] public.”

Wenger went on: “I am against smoking but I have grown up in a period where … at the end of the month we got paid by cigarettes.

“So that incited us to smoke. When I was a young boy I grew up surrounded by smokers. I smoked myself when I didn’t play anymore, when I became a young coach.”

Asked what he made of comments Szczesny’s father reportedly made to the press, criticising Per Mertesacker and Arsenal’s defence, Wenger retorted: “I don’t listen to the fathers and the mothers and the grandfathers.”

• Arsenal V Stoke City Sunday January 11, 1.30pm, Emirates Stadium