Arsene Wenger was as secretive as ever when grilled about his transfer targets on Monday – but did say he would only recruit "special" players before the transfer window closes.
Arsenal will play Fenerbahce on Tuesday, bidding to complete qualification for the group stages of the Champions League for a 16th successive year against a side they beat 3-0 in Istanbul last week. It will be the Gunners’ first return to the Emirates Stadium since a 3-1 defeat to Aston Villa on the opening day of the Barclays Premier League season which provoked the fans’ ire. Supporters expressed frustration over Arsenal’s perceived dithering in the transfer market which has seen them miss out on the likes of Gonzalo Higuain, who moved from Real Madrid to Napoli.
"I still am optimistic and I hope I will not disappoint you," said Wenger, who believes the transfer window should close before the season starts, but recognizes Arsenal’s need to augment the squad. We have not a fixed number (of signings in mind). I just think we are a bit short at the moment.
"I’m guided by my conscience to do as well as I can for this club and by the vision of the game I want to play. I feel with the players I have I can play the football we want to play. I’m a great admirer of the spirit, the attitude of these players. They are special and if I want to add something it has to be special."
Wenger has already ruled out another bid for Liverpool‘s Luis Suarez, but he would not comment further on names after a number of Premier League managers have disagreed publicly over comments on transfers.
Wenger, who himself has been criticized by Alan Pardew for pursuing Newcastle midfielder Yohan Cabaye, added: "I will not give you any names, because it would be unfair for the players who play at another club. It could, as well, create some wrong hopes.
"You could see that many of the disputes you have all over the country is because the coaches or the managers speak about the players. In our job, just be discreet and try to make things happen. That’s what we try to do. You can come back to me and say ‘yes, but you don’t make things happen.’ But it’s still only most important in our job is what happens on the football pitch and how well you play football. The rest we work very hard on."
In an illustration of Arsenal’s existing quality Jack Wilshere will return to the starting line-up against Fenerbahce, even though the North London derby with Tottenham takes place on Sunday. Wenger has also been impressed by striker Olivier Giroud, who has scored three times in three games, and Lukas Podolski, who netted twice at Fulham in Saturday’s 3-1 win. Both are now in their second year with the Gunners.
"By scoring the goals they’re proving a point and by being efficient offensively, they’re proving a point," Wenger said. "This season I think they will be more efficient, because they are quality players, they know the Premier League, they know how we want to play. They are doing well at the moment so let’s hope it will last. I am sure of their quality, but what people are worried about is not only the quality, it’s about the numbers to fulfil a whole season."
Arsenal’s numbers are boosted as defender Laurent Koscielny is fit to feature after missing the Fulham clash while suspended, but also recovering from a head injury sustained in the first leg in Turkey. Wenger said "95 percent" of those involved at Fulham will feature as he knows how fundamental progression to the group stages is for his club.
"It’s a very, very important tie for us, because we want to be in the group stage the next day," Wenger added. "I have big experience in the Champions League – I have over 150 games – and I know if you want to knock somebody out you need attitude and commitment or you don’t do it. That is what is at stake for us. That demands attitude and commitment and desire to play the game with full power, like we love to do it.
"We had two good games recently, at Fenerbahce and against Fulham, and we want just to continue that run, going into the game to win the game without thinking about the result of the first game. The Champions League is a fight. Everybody wants to give his best. We want to finish the job tomorrow. We have a decent advantage, but we want to get over the line."