Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 30 July 2014

Wenger happy despite Spurs spree

Arsene Wenger has challenged his side to show their true worth against big-spending Tottenham

Manager Arsene Wenger has challenged his Arsenal squad to show their true value when big-spending Tottenham head to the Emirates Stadium for Sunday's north London derby.

While Spurs star man Gareth Bale is on the verge of a multi-million pound move to Real Madrid, they have nevertheless smashed the club transfer record three times this summer bringing in the likes of Paulinho, Etienne Capoue, Nacer Chadli and £26million striker Roberto Soldado, with the signing of Romanian defender Vlad Chiriches from Steaua Bucharest confirmed on Friday.

Tottenham's summer spending spree passed the £90million mark when they completed the signing of Erik Lamela from Roma while the club announced last night they had reached an agreement with Ajax over the transfer of Denmark midfielder Christian Eriksen.

By contrast, Wenger has completed only the free transfers of midfielder Mathieu Flamini and France Under-21 striker Yaya Sanogo.

Arsenal are, though, expected to be late movers ahead of the September 2 deadline - with Karim Benzema, Mesut Ozil and Angel di Maria of Real Madrid said to be top of the wanted list.

Wenger, however, insists his men can show they are more than a match for Spurs' new big-money signings by continuing on from the wins over Fulham and Fenerbahce following an opening day home defeat by Aston Villa.

"I can understand that it is very interesting for people to read the newspapers and see who goes in and out, but there is only one thing that matters if you really love football - and that is what happens on the pitch," said Wenger, who will be without forward Lukas Podolski for up to three months because of a torn hamstring.

"We have a way to play, good players and let's focus on that.

"It's a good opportunity for us to show our strengths against Tottenham because they have as well strengthened their team.

"I am confident that we will have a very good performance."

Wenger is not in awe of Tottenham's summer spending spree - and even claimed it could end up destabilising the balance of the squad rather than turning them into Barclays Premier League top four contenders.

"I know all the players they have bought. For the rest, we will see how well they integrate and how well they will do. It is very difficult to predict that," said the Arsenal boss, whose side again finished above Spurs in fourth place last season.

"They try very hard (to bridge the gap) of course, that is normal. In our job, there is always a technical risk when you buy more than three players because you unbalance a little bit the stability of your squad.

"I know that in England it is very well seen, but it is always difficult when you bring so many players in, how everybody will do to predict that."

Wenger says Arsenal - who failed in bids for Gonzalo Higuain, Luis Suarez and Yohan Cabaye earlier this summer - will never be bullied into paying what they believe are inflated fees to push through a deal or make any "panic buys" ahead of the September 2 deadline.

"We have financial potential, I wouldn't deny that, but we will decide still to pay the right price," he added.

Wenger maintains direct comparisons between Arsenal and Tottenham's strength cannot be drawn just on spending alone.

He continued: "I think about does my squad have a chance to fight for the Premier League or not. We don't compare to Spurs especially.

"Last year, if you had looked at Chelsea's squad at the start of last year, would you have said they had a squad to fight for the Premier League last year? Yes.

"However, they finished two points ahead of us and it is in the last game that it (third place) has been decided.

"So you let people talk and you try to analyse the quality of the game you have.

"I just can say one thing, in the last six months we have lost one game."

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