Wenger to spend ‘where needed’

The Gunners look to be heading for a sixth consecutive season
without silverware after a last-minute defeat at Bolton left them
nine points behind Premier League leaders Manchester United with
just four games left. Only eight weeks ago, Arsenal appeared well
on course for a much different outcome before they suffered a shock
Carling Cup final defeat to Birmingham at Wembley, went out of
Europe to Barcelona and then lost their FA Cup quarter-final at Old
Trafford. Six draws from the last nine of an unbeaten 16-game
Premier League run, which ended on Sunday, saw what had looked to
be a sustained title assault fail to last the distance once again.
Wenger cut a forlorn figure at full-time at the Reebok Stadium, as
the reality of his young squad’s latest failing sunk in. The
Gunners boss has endured great criticism of his unwavering faith in
youth, with fans and pundits alike calling for him to add some
steely experience to all that potential. While Wenger is unlikely
to raid his £40million warchest for just one marquee signing
this summer, it is now highly probably a couple of more mature
players will be brought in to help the current generation win that
first illusive trophy. “We have the quality, that is for sure. We
have to strengthen the squad where it needs and make the right
decision on that front. It [transfers] is always in my mind every
day,” Wenger told Arsenal TV Online. “The team have had an
outstanding attitude and will not be rewarded because of small
things, but small things cost you. “It is frustrating because the
team has produced the efforts. “We have to be realistic that it
[the title] is very unlikely now, but we have to finish as well as
we can.” Next up for Arsenal is the visit of United on May 1, in
what Wenger had hoped could prove a title showdown, but where now
an Arsenal victory would only seem to serve as a delaying tactic
for the Red Devils’ coronation or give London rivals Chelsea a shot
in the arm. Despite all of the now perennial criticism over his
young squad, Wenger maintains Arsenal’s philosophy stands true. “If
someone can convince me that the principles are wrong I am ready to
change, but I feel we try to play football the proper way,” he
said. “When you don’t win you question your principles, but you
have to give yourself the right distance to see what is right and
wrong in what you do. “I think if something is wrong in our team,
it is not the principles in playing our football.” Wenger, however,
accepted shortcomings at the back have proven too costly, Arsenal
without injured centre-half Thomas Vermaelen for most of the
campaign. “We have not been stable enough defensively,” he said.
“The numbers are the numbers – this week we have conceded six goals
and you cannot afford to concede six goals in April in three games
and win the championship. “Defensively we have been too frail this
season.” Wenger may not have delivered a trophy since Patrick
Vieira lifted the 2005 FA Cup in Cardiff, but few can accuse the
club of standing still. Arsenal have moved from Highbury to their
new 60,000-seater home at Ashburton Grove, which in the long-term
will secure their self-funding status, while the Gunners also
reached the 2006 Champions League final. Wenger has overseen
consistent qualification for Europe’s lucrative elite club
competition in each of the past 15 seasons, while his transfer
spending is in credit – unlike all of Arsenal’s title rivals – and
has tied-up key men such as Cesc Fabregas on long-term deals.
Former Arsenal goalkeeper Bob Wilson believes calls for a change in
the dugout are wide of the mark. “He is not fireproof, nobody is,
but Arsene is an intelligent man and he will say when he has taken
them as far as he can,” former Scotland goalkeeper Wilson, who won
the double with Arsenal in 1971, told BBC Radio Five Live. “I don’t
think the board will ever sack Arsene, unless there is a dramatic
slump in the manner they play.” Wilson added: “Arsene has a
complete aversion to paying double the price for British players,
but he has to swallow his pride on that because there has to be a
more British feel to the team.”