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HindustanTimes Sun,20 Apr 2014

Football

Defiant Wenger defends transfer policy as Arsenal slump
AFP
London, England, August 18, 2013
First Published: 10:09 IST(18/8/2013)
Last Updated: 10:13 IST(18/8/2013)

Arsene Wenger was forced to mount a defiant defence of Arsenal's transfer policy after his side suffered a disastrous start to the Premier League campaign.

A 3-1 home defeat to Aston Villa on Saturday prompted an angry reaction from supporters at the Emirates Stadium who made it clear they were unimpressed with Wenger's failure to land his principal targets during pre-season.

Yaya Sanogo, the young French striker, remains the only newcomer after failed attempts to sign Gonzalo Higuain, Luiz Gustavo and Luis Suarez.

Yet while Gunners boss Wenger insists he will continue with his efforts to strengthen his squad, he denied the absence of a big name signing was responsible for his side's dismal opening day defeat to an impressive Villa side.

"Could we have won the game with the players we had on the pitch? I say yes," Wenger said.

"And if we don't spend the money it's because we don't find the players.

"We want our fans to be happy and when you don't achieve that you feel sorry and really disappointed.

"My job is to make the fans happy. But we haven't lost a game because of that. That's what I want to convince you of.

"We are in the market, everybody knows we are ready to buy players, but until we buy players we have to win football games and it's not an excuse not to win the game."

Wenger was in a tetchy mood during his post-match press conference as he fielded a barrage of questions about his club's plight.

Arsenal look no closer to ending the club's eight-year trophy drought and Wenger already gives the appearance of a man feeling the pressure.

"You got what you wanted, you should be happy," Wenger told reporters. "Before the start of the season that was all you wrote in the papers so what do you expect?

"Everybody has opinions and I have to live with that. I think in 16 years I have shown my loyalty to this club.

"My only worry is to do well and I am hugely disappointed because we came out of last season without a defeat in 10 games and we start the new season with a defeat at home.

"It's a massive blow and that's why the solution is not to sit here and say we'll buy players to keep you happy."

Olivier Giroud put Arsenal ahead but two goals from Christian Benteke and a late effort from new signing Antonio Luna secured Villa's victory.

Arsenal's difficult day was capped when Laurent Koscielny was sent off after collecting two yellow cards, while a raft of new injuries did nothing to lift Wenger's mood.

The Frenchman's focus now shifts towards the first leg of the Champions League play-off round tie against Fenerbahce in Istanbul next week and he expects to be without Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Bacary Sagna.

Kieran Gibbs, Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey and Tomas Rosicky also picked up knocks and will face fitness tests.

For Villa manager Paul Lambert, the victory provided a welcome tonic after last season's relegation fight and the dynamic performance of Benteke showed why Lambert fought so hard to keep the Belgian striker.

Lambert, though, reserved his highest praise for England forward Gabriel Agbonlahor, who he believes could have a major impact on the club's campaign.

"I thought Agbonlahor was just unplayable. He was absolutely fantastic. It was as good a performance as I've seen from an individual for many a year," Lambert said.

"He has been like that for the last four months of last season and he started this season the same way. Him, Benteke and Andi Weimann are an absolute threat.

"The no fear attitude was key. Because we're young, everyone probably thought there'd be an adverse reaction in this match but I've got to give them a lot of credit.

"Brad Guzan made two world-class players towards the end. Big players perform in big moments."


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