Wenger bemoans lack of quality in transfer market

The Arsenal manager insists he will only buy players who strengthen his side but cannot see many options available, having made just three signings

Arsene Wenger says he will not be pushed into buying players for the sake of it, insisting he does not see many options available that would improve his Arsenal team.

The Frenchman intends to sign a defender to replace the injured Per Mertesacker, but it has been another relatively quiet close-season for the Premier League giants.

Wenger said he would only make signings if required, with Granit Xhaka headlining his three additions this summer.

“I buy players that I feel can strengthen our team. Today you have to be very strong inside the club when you are responsible, not just to buy [for the sake of it],” he said.

“There’s always a wave of opinions. I must say people are better informed today – they know all the players.

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“They tell you always that you should buy but when you ask them who to buy, they become much shorter.

“If you look at the market in Europe, there’s a lot of money available but not many players who really strengthen the teams. If you look at the teams that spend the most money in Europe, they’re not necessarily the teams that won the championships.

“The global investment of the clubs around us didn’t stop Leicester winning the championship.”

Wenger insisted Arsenal were “still on the market for players” and that he expected to sign a defender before the start of the season.

Leicester City star Riyad Mahrez and Lyon’s Alexandre Lacazette have also been linked, but Wenger was unwilling to be drawn on the duo.

“The best way to conclude transfers is not to talk about them, which is very difficult in the press conference,” he said.

“We are on the market but I don’t want to talk specifically about any player because that makes it more difficult for me – and it’s difficult enough.”

Top-four finish never enough for Arsenal, insists Wenger

The Frenchman insists that merely qualifying for the Champions League is not adequate for his side and insists that they will aim to end their Premier League drought in 2016-17

Arsene Wenger is adamant that a top-four finish will not be enough for Arsenal in 2016-17.

The Gunners have consistently finished in the Champions League places under Wenger, but have not won the Premier League title since 2003-04.

Wenger’s men had to settle for second place behind Leicester City last term and the Frenchman is desperate to go one better in 2016-17.

“A top-four finish is never enough,” Wenger, who is in the final year of his current contract, told the official Arsenal website.

“I personally believe that no matter what you do, it’s never enough. You have to give absolutely everything to take the best out of the team.

“I believe that we know what we have to do, because we were second last year and we had 18 teams behind us.”

Nevertheless, Wenger realises Arsenal will face stiff competition to end their Premier League drought.

“It’s a big ask, because when you look at the Premier League, every club is hugely ambitious,” he added.

“You look at the cheques that everybody signs and it’s quite scary.

“That’s what the Premier League is about at the moment.”

Drogba: No luck in Arsenal scoring record

The former Chelsea forward netted his 16th goal against the Gunners for the MLS All-Stars on Thursday, and insists that good fortune plays no part in his record

Didier Drogba insists that there is no luck involved in his scoring record against Arsenal, as he again found the net against the Gunners for the MLS All-Stars.

Former Chelsea forward Drogba scored on the stroke of half-time in the pre-season friendly to equalise for his side, but Chuba Akpom’s strike ultimately gave Arsene Wenger’s side a 2-1 victory on Thursday.

The goal was Drogba’s 16th in as many appearances against Arsenal, having tormented the club throughout his time at Stamford Bridge. 

And asked if he feels fortunate to constantly find the net against Arsenal, Drogba said: “I don’t know, I don’t know, I want to say that I’m lucky but when you score 16 goals against them I don’t think it’s luck no more.”

However, Drogba was left disappointed with the result – despite it only being a friendly fixture. 

“I want to help my team to win games. And I always say that the goal that I score and then we lose, for me that doesn’t count,” the Montreal Impact striker said. 

“For me it’s for fun because I scored against [former Chelsea, now Arsenal goalkeeper] Petr [Cech], but the result matters more than my goal or my own performance. It’s a bit disappointing to have lost this game in the last minute.

“I hate losing. So for fun, I will have fun with Petr because I scored. But he already killed me and said ‘This time I give you the goal’.

“But apart from that, no, the result I’m not happy with.”

Wenger was in a jovial mood after the game, and joked about Drogba’s impact against his side.

“He has always harmed us, and he continues. He’s a winner and I think that he’ll be like that until the end of his life,” Wenger said about the 38-year-old.

“At half-time, I was thinking ‘He’s still haunting us, even in the United States!’ Drogba is a typical poacher of a goal. He can do that in the box.

“When I see him in the box and fighting with young defenders I always think that now there is danger there because you know he will get the upper hand and score you a goal and that’s what he did.”

Wenger: Arsenal need an experienced striker

The Gunners coach is already on the lookout for a new defender after Per Mertesacker’s injury but admits he also hopes to add further depth to his attacking options

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is on the hunt for another attacking option before the transfer window closes after admitting his side lacks experienced forwards.

The Gunners were 2-1 victors over an MLS All-Star side in San Jose on Thursday, with 20-year-old Chuba Akpom – who spent last season on loan at Hull City – grabbing an 87th-minute winner.

Wenger has already earmarked bringing in a defender before the end of August after Per Mertesacker sustained a long-term knee injury and Valencia centre-back Shkodran Mustafi is thought to be the top target.

But the Frenchman is also keen on bolstering his front line with the club having already had a bid for Alexandre Lacazette rejected by Lyon this month.

GOALREAD MORE  | Arsenal edge past MLS All-Stars

“At the moment I have not too many attacking options in terms of experienced players,” Wenger said. 

“But let’s not forget we still have a few players at home.

“There are also a few players who did not play against the MLS All-Star team, like Santi Cazorla and of course Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey are at home. Olivier Giroud is also not here.

“So we have options but we will still look outside to find one more.”

With Laurent Koscielny still recuperating from playing for France at Euro 2016 and Gabriel Paulista not travelling to America due to illness, England Under-21 international Rob Holding – signed from Bolton Wanderers this month – was given a chance to impress in the Arsenal defence against the All-Star side.

And Wenger was impressed with the 20-year-old’s mature performance.

“He’s adapted surprisingly well – he reads the game well and understands what’s going on,” he added.

“He anticipates well and that’s a quality you don’t see very often at such a young age.”

MLS All-Stars 1-2 Arsenal: Akpom wins it late as Xhaka makes debut

Didier Drogba was among the goals as he cancelled out Joel Campbell’s opener before the 20-year-old fired the Gunners to victory three minutes from time

Substitute Chuba Akpom netted a late winner as Arsenal saw off the MLS All-Stars 2-1 in San Jose on Thursday.

Akpom came off the bench past the hour-mark and he proved to be the difference, scoring from close range with three minutes remaining, while big-money recruit Granit Xhaka made his debut for the Premier League giants at Avaya Stadium.

Scores were level at half-time following Didier Drogba’s equaliser at the third time of asking for Kaka and Co., cancelling out Joel Campbell’s 11th-minute penalty.

The result ended the All-Stars’ run of consecutive wins against European opposition, having upstaged Tottenham last year and Bayern Munich in 2014.

Arsenal settled quickest of the two teams, unsurprising given the lack of cohesion and understanding between the All-Stars.

And while Giovani dos Santos forced Petr Cech into an early save, Arsenal took advantage of a disjointed back four, with Campbell stepping up to convert from the spot.

The Costa Rica international lobbed the ball over onrushing goalkeeper Andre Blake and was brought down by Laurent Ciman, before channelling his inner Simone Zaza as he shuffled toward the ball in a stuttered run-up and fired into the bottom corner of the net.

Tucked away. Campbell sneaks one past Andre Blake to put @Arsenal in front. #MLSAllStar https://t.co/sOfN1SidJo

— Major League Soccer (@MLS) July 29, 2016

GOALREAD MORE  | Mertesacker injury a blow for Arsenal

Mohamed Elneny almost doubled Arsenal’s lead, forcing Blake into a fine finger-tip save approaching the half-hour mark, which eventually saw the withdrawal of All-Star pair Andrea Pirlo and David Villa due to their upcoming New York City commitments.

Kaka and his All-Stars, however, did manage to draw level thanks to Drogba on the stroke of half-time.

This guy knows how to score against @Arsenal , huh? #MLSAllStar https://t.co/Jesm9Ryxm2

— Major League Soccer (@MLS) July 29, 2016

After receiving a throughball from Dos Santos, Drogba bundled the ball into the back of the net after his initial shot was saved by Cech and blocked on the line.

Xhaka came off the bench at half-time to make his debut for the Londoners, the Switzerland international looking composed on the ball in midfield, forcing David Bingham into two saves.

All-Star substitutes Cyle Larin and Chris Wondolowski almost combined for the match-winner in the 82nd minute, but Arsenal snatched the victory three minutes from time via Akpom.