Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 24 September 2014

Wenger has no regrets over Arsenal's transfer dealings

Arsene Wenger insists he has no regrets over seeing both Emmanuel Adebayor and Kolo Toure leave Arsenal for Manchester City.

Much has been made of Mark Hughes' unprecedented summer spending spree at Eastlands, bankrolled by their new Middle East owners, as he looks to quickly compile a squad capable of challenging the top four.

Some £41million of that went to the Gunners for the services of their Togo frontman and long-time defensive stalwart Toure, who is likely to captain City in tomorrow's match between the two clubs.

Wenger, though, would not be drawn on the reasoning behind the transfers - amid reports of dressing-room unrest involving Toure and William Gallas, and suspicions Adebayor moved on financial grounds.

"There are no hard feelings for Toure or Adebayor," the Arsenal manager insisted.

"I always wish my former players to be happy.

"It is part of life that players move on. That is not a reason that you want them not to be happy.

"I am extremely confident they will be and wish them well."

Adebayor has certainly hit the ground running at his new club - finding form straight away for City with three Barclays Premier League goals in as many games.

Wenger admits the Togo striker, whom he plucked from Monaco three years ago, has been "on fire" - but rejected suggestions his switch to Eastlands was all about money.

"Adebayor has started the season on fire and we have to put that fire out," he said.

However, Wenger maintained: "I do not regret losing him.

"I believe we lost a great player, but we have other great players behind.

"I believe in Eduardo, [Carlos] Vela and [Nicklas] Bendtner and we of course already have [Robin] van Persie as a big asset in our team.

"We have a good striking force, we have [Theo] Walcott who can be turned into a striker so we can cope with that [loss]."

Wenger insisted: "I personally do not think that Adebayor was obsessed by money.

"I must say that to be fair to him.

"If you consider the Premier League, you cannot say we are one of the bottom clubs financially.

"We have very fair financial potential."

Before the season started, Arsenal were seen as the main target for City - only to open the new campaign in impressive form before a frustrating defeat at Old Trafford, where they had led 1-0.

Although his side are not at full strength, with Russia playmaker Andrey Arshavin ruled out for up to three games, Wenger feels tomorrow's encounter at Eastlands should provide some idea of just what challenge City can offer.

"It is difficult to assess, because the best way is to play against them and then you have a much more objective impression," he said.

"We will see on Saturday how strong they are.

"I believe they are a good side because they have good players and a good level of confidence because they started well.

"It will be an interesting test."

Wenger's young Gunners, who should welcome captain Cesc Fabregas back tomorrow after the midfielder recovered from a hamstring problem to play for Spain during the international break, certainly appear to have come a long way since their last trip to Eastlands during November 2008.

Gallas, now a consistent performer alongside new central defensive partner Thomas Vermaelen, had been stripped of the armband and Arsenal went down 3-0 to all but end a title challenge before it had begun.

However, following that result, the Gunners went on a 21-match unbeaten league run to take back a place in the top four, if ultimately coming up short in both the FA Cup and Champions League semi-finals.

"We have come very far since then," reflected Wenger, who should have England forward Walcott in contention for next week's Champions League group opener at Standard Liege following his back problems.

"We did not lose again until May against Chelsea and the semi-final exit of the Champions League.

"Overall I believe we have moved forward a lot from what was a low point.

"It was after an international game again and we can show tomorrow that we have learned from that and we are much stronger."

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