herald

Thursday 17 April 2014

Wenger: Misfiring Gunners can't leave until replacements roll in

ARSENE WENGER has refused to rule out further departures from the Emirates, but insists players will have to come in before they do.

Both Johan Djourou and Marouane Chamakh have left on loan, to Hannover and West Ham respectively, while Sebastien Squillaci and Andrey Arshavin have both been linked with moves away from north London.

"At the moment no, (no one is leaving)," Wenger said. "We have a good squad, a balanced one. At the moment nobody can go out, unless we buy somebody.

"At the moment our focus is to keep everybody. In every position we have two players."

Arsenal remain hopeful of pushing through an improved contract offer for Theo Walcott, with reports suggesting a new five-year deal worth around £90,000 a week could even be signed ahead of the City game.

Wenger has been linked with a string of players including Barcelona forward David Villa.

Absence

His former Barca team-mate, City star Yaya Toure, will miss Sunday's match at the Emirates due to Africa Cup of Nations commitments, and Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey feels the Gunners can make the most of his absence.

"It will give us an extra bit of belief," he said. "He is a big player for them and so influential, so hopefully we can take full advantage of that and get another good result."

City were beaten 1-0 at Emirates Stadium last season, where they have not scored in the Premier League in five visits.

Arsenal have also seen their attacking options hit by the Africa Cup of Nations, as Gervinho is also away with the Ivory Coast, and France international Olivier Giroud is rated as 50/50 because of the knee injury he picked up in the FA Cup tie at Swansea. But Wenger could see his midfield options boosted Abou Diaby's return.

Hobbling

The France international played for the U21s in their midweek draw against West Brom in a first fixture since hobbling off against Chelsea on September 29 with a thigh problem.

The Gunners start a run of six crunch fixtures before the end of January - with a Champions League last-16 tie against Bayern Munich also looming on the horizon.

After an FA Cup replay against Swansea at Emirates Stadium next Wednesday, Arsenal travel to Chelsea on January 20, before tackling West Ham in their rearranged St Stephen's Day fixture, followed by a possible FA Cup fourth-round tie at Brighton ahead of the visit of Liverpool.

Wales international Ramsey, however, insists the squad have the strength of character to cope.

"It is a big month for us. We play some teams who are above us (in the Premier League) and we have an FA Cup game as well, so it is important to take these opportunities," he said.

"We have Manchester City at home and Chelsea away, games that we did well in last season, so hopefully we can do the same again this year and that will set us up nicely for the run in to the end of the season."

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