Evening all. Arsene Wenger spoke to the press ahead of Saturday’s game against Stoke this morning and to the surprise of absolutely nobody, the questions posed were as predictable as his answers.
After providing an injury update, in which he revealed Jack Wilshere has had a minor setback and is definitely out of contention for this weekend, the boss was asked about the lack of new arrivals before the transfer window shut last week. Here’s what he had to say:
I have made more than 300 transfers and every time it’s a decision to make. Do you buy the player because he strengthens his squad or not? The solutions we had were not convincing at all. In the end you do not buy to give one hope, you want to buy because the players who come in can help your squad to be stronger. Buying and selling is one way to strengthen your team but that’s not the only way.
I’m pretty sure most Arsenal fans who follow Arsene’s press conferences on a regular basis will have guessed his response before it had left his mouth. That’s not a criticism of the boss, more one of the journos who take it turns to ask the same vague questions and don’t, for instance, ask the boss what he thinks of Luiz Adriano as a finisher when he says the market was bare.
But speaking of strikers, and considering the ones we have are either injured or horribly out of form, Arsene discussed his options up front and gave a vote of confidence to under-fire Olivier Giroud:
Of course, I am confident I have enough cover and enough quality. The only good news after the transfer window is that finally we can talk a bit about football. That is what we love and we want to focus now on [how to improve], which is the quality of the work that we do and the quality of our spirit and the quality of our competitiveness which is needed in every single game. He (Giroud) has my full support and I believe that is part of being a striker. There is no striker in the world who has not been questioned. When he missed a chance and is booed, that can happen.
Arsene also responded to claims in certain quarters that he’d purposely misled fans over Danny Welbeck’s knee injury and said that the forward’s fitness was not a consideration when he scoured the market for a player who could improve the squad:
It doesn’t change anything. You either find someone who strengthens your squad or not. Whether we have players injured or no doesn’t change the problem, that’s what I don’t understand from the media. First of all I am surprised that people accused me of lying when I was in the press conference on Friday morning, [at that point] I did not know Welbeck had a bad setback. I did not lie to you, I gave you the information I had.
Glad that’s sorted. The paranoia was becoming a little boring. And so what if he’s compounded a lie with a denial – if I was looking for a new striker and wanted to negotiate the best price possible, I’m hardly going to make it public that one of my current collection is out of action for the foreseeable. At times I think fans need to stop flattering themselves by thinking what Arsene says is always aimed at them.
Anyway, the boss also pointed out that Arsenal have created more chances than any other team in the Premier League this season and said he is confident we will soon relocate our shooting boots:
We have created the chances and that’s what we want to continue to do. I believe that the finishing is a bit cyclical, up and down, and we are the team who has created the most chances since the start of the season, so let’s just continue to focus on the quality of our game. It is about the efficiency and the quality of our game, we can score goals and I am not worried about that. We have Alexis, we have Giroud and we have Walcott. It is a massive opportunity for them of course.
The hope of course, is that they can make the most of that opportunity and if they could start in our next game that would be very welcome indeed. I think both Walcott and Giroud really need to prove themselves as capable of being our long-term, first-choice striker in theses next few months with Welbeck out and the market closed, because if they can’t do it now, the likelihood is they never will.
And as far as Alexis as a striker goes, I don’t see it myself. It didn’t work on the few occasions we tried it last season but more importantly, I think Sanchez is far more Eden Hazard than he is Sergio Aguero, if you know what I mean.