herald

Tuesday 6 December 2016

Wenger: We have enough strikers to compete for the league title

Wenger confident he has necessary firepower for title tilt

Arsenal striker Danny Welbeck's injury has left manager Arsene Wenger with a striker shortage
Arsenal striker Danny Welbeck's injury has left manager Arsene Wenger with a striker shortage

After failing to score in their opening two home Premier League games for the first time in 36 years, Arsenal will be looking for their first goals and their first win at the Emirates Stadium this season when they play Stoke City tomorrow.

Manager Arsene Wenger has been roundly criticised by many of the club's fans for failing to strengthen his team during the transfer window, especially in attack.

Arsenal are sixth in the table with seven points from their opening four matches that include a 2-1 victory at Crystal Palace, a 1-0 win at Newcastle and a goalless draw with Liverpool.

But two of those three goals were own goals, and Arsenal appear to have a lack of firepower up front with Danny Welbeck's injured knee keeping him out of the side at least until Christmas time.

Including their 1-0 win over Chelsea in the Community Shield in August, Arsenal have only scored four goals in five games so far.

Wenger though, has defended his transfer policy, saying he was satisfied with his squad and had plenty of options in attack too.

"I have made over 300 transfers and every time the decision you make is do you buy the player to strengthen your squad, or not," he said.

"The solutions we had were not convincing at all and in the end you do not buy to give wrong hopes.

"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 it is not your only way."

Welbeck, scored only four league goals in his first season at Arsenal following his move from Manchester United just over a year ago, but knows where the net is as his 14 goals in 33 England appearances prove.

Without him, the burden falls on Olivier Giroud, who has scored once this season, and Alexis Sanchez, who hasn't scored any, as Wenger's senior front two, although Theo Walcott, Santi Cazorla and Aaron Ramsey have consistently backed up with goals from midfield in the past.

Wenger said Arsenal did want to sign a forward but couldn't find one to improve the squad.

"It's about finding an efficient solution," he said. "They don't just drop down from heaven."

Asked about Giroud's start to the season - he was jeered by French fans for a series of missed chances in France's friendly against Serbia on Monday - he replied: "I have confidence in the ability and quality of our strikers.

"Of course I'm confident that I have enough cover and enough quality."

The last time Arsenal failed to score in their opening two league matches was in the old First Division in August 1979 when they lost 2-0 to Ipswich Town and drew 0-0 with Manchester United at Highbury - the same sequence they have had this season with a 2-0 loss to West Ham followed by the draw with Liverpool.

If they are looking for omens, their third home game ended in a 2-0 win over Middlesbrough, a result that would delight everyone connected with the club this weekend.

Meanwhile, Stoke boss Mark Hughes is confident Jonathan Walters' professionalism will shine through now the transfer window has closed with him still at the Britannia Stadium.

"His immediate future and his future at the weekend is that he will be involved with our game against Arsenal," the Welshman said.

"Jon's not the only player that's gone through a similar situation during the transfer window.

"Once the window closes you have to refocus and get on with the job in hand."

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