Wenger to avoid money excuse

ARSENE WENGER maintains Arsenal cannot use a lack of big-money signings as an excuse should the Gunners fail to land the Premier League title next season.

Arsenal, whose challenge faded as they finished third in May, have once again seen their rivals heavily invest during the summer – with Manchester City again bankrolling an incredible spree to the best part of £100 million (€120m) as they look to blow the title race wide open.

Conversely, Wenger has brought in Morocco striker Marouane Chamakh, a free transfer after his contract with Bordeaux expired and unproven French centre-back Laurent Koscielny, in a reported £10m (€12m) deal from Lorient.

The Gunners manager, however, says his young squad have the talent to mount a sustained assault for what would be a first championship since the unbeaten campaign of 2003/2004.

“I am concerned about the focus of my team and the quality of my team, and we will try and do as well as well we can,” said Wenger, whose side host AC Milan today and then play Celtic in the Emirates Cup tomorrow.

“No matter what happens this season, the money will not be an excuse if we do not achieve our targets. We know the world we live in.”

The Gunners boss added: “Have the other clubs more money or less money? It is not important. It is whether the players are better players or lesser players and I think we can compete with the players we have,” he said.

The influx of cash provided to City boss Roberto Mancini by owner Sheikh Mansour has, according to Wenger, distorted the overall market.

“I don’t think Man City reflects in general the financial state of international football,” said the Arsenal manager.

“The transfer market overall is very quiet. Clubs are very tight with money.”

Wenger, though, feels the forthcoming campaign is set to be an open contest. “I feel there will be more teams fighting for the title,” he said.

“It makes it more interesting and open as well. We have seen the start of that last season as well, all of the top teams lost points against the second part of the Premier League.

“That trend could even become stronger this year.’’

Arsenal have been linked with a number of central defenders as they look to cover for the loss of veterans Mikael Silvestre, Sol Campbell and William Gallas.

Wenger said he was not surprised to see Campbell join Newcastle instead of taking up a one-year deal to stay on at Arsenal, but refused to be drawn on any specific targets – said to include Everton’s Phil Jagielka, Udinese centre -half Cristian Zapata and German international Per Mertesacker.

“Ideally yes (we need another centre -back), in number we have lost Silvestre, Campbell and Gallas and we have only signed Koscielny,” said Wenger.

“Johan Djourou is coming back from injury so you could say we have got two, but we are still two short.”

Arsenal have been linked with a string of goalkeepers, including Fulham’s Mark Schwarzer, as Manuel Almunia’s number one position appears up for grabs.

“At the moment we are still looking to strengthen the squad,” Wenger said.


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