herald

Friday 24 November 2017

Stubborn Wenger refuses to buy way out of trouble

ARSENE WENGER does not intend to rush into the transfer market to beef up his Arsenal squad despite the club's defensive frailties being made glaringly apparent in yesterday's 2-1 defeat to Manchester United.

Thomas Vermaelen and Johan Djourou had a torrid time playing out of position at full-back and it was no coincidence that United's two goals from Antonio Valencia and Danny Welbeck came from wide positions.

Wenger has had no fit recognised full-backs since before Christmas, but the Frenchman refuses to enter the market and wants to focus instead on helping the likes of Bacary Sagna, Kieran Gibbs and Andre Santos return to full fitness.

Asked whether he agreed with the view that Arsenal must spend to improve, Wenger replied "I don't. Spending money is not the target. It never has been in life.

"We need our players back. We missed 10 players."

Arsenal, who are without long-term injury victim Jack Wilshere, have also been hit by the absence of Gervinho and Marouane Chamakh, who are at the African Nations Cup. One positive aspect of the duo's absence has been that Wenger was able to give Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain his first Premier League start yesterday.



Havoc

The 18-year-old winger took full advantage, causing havoc down both flanks with his speed and trickery.

He set up Robin van Persie for the equaliser in the second half after Valencia had put United ahead, but found himself off the pitch two minutes later when Wenger surprisingly substituted the youngster for unpopular forward Andrey Arshavin.

Many Arsenal fans booed loudly and even captain Van Persie seemed at odds with the move, appearing to mouth "no" as the fourth official held the board aloft indicating Oxlade-Chamberlain's departure.

Nevertheless, Wenger insists the substitution was justified and lashed out at the fans who criticised him.

He said: "I can understand that the fans are upset about the substitution, but he (Oxlade-Chamberlain) had started to fatigue.

"I do not have to justify every decision I make. I stand up for it."

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