Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is attempting to spin his inexcusable decision to not sign a center half this summer by saying that there were no quality players available to buy.
Yet Wenger has rejected the suggestion that he should shoulder the blame for a defensive crisis that has developed following injuries to Mathieu Debuchy, Nacho Monreal and Kieran Gibbs, while Per Mertesacker is set to play against Tottenham on Saturday while carrying a minor knock.
When asked whether there was a lack of top-class defenders to buy in the last transfer window, Wenger replied:
“That is exactly [the issue], you sum it up very well.
“There is not a lot on the market and if you look at the other clubs, they had exactly the same problem. If you went anywhere, everybody is looking for defenders.
“I feel that we made a very good buy with Calum Chambers and we are a bit unlucky to lose Debuchy and Monreal at the same time together. No matter how many players you buy, you cannot have three players in every position because it is impossible to manage.”
The problem with that statement is that is it patently not true. Manchester City signed defender Eliaquim Mangala from Porto. Bayern Munich signed Roma’s Medhi Benatia and Barcelona signed Jérémy Mathieu from Valencia as well as Thomas Vermaelen from Arsenal.
Which begs the question. If the market for central defenders was so difficult in Arsene Wenger’s eyes, why did he let his captain leave for Barca?
Arsenal’s latest financial results confirmed a huge surplus of cash in reserve, which encouraged many supporters to suggest Wenger could have added to his summer signings of Alexis Sanchez, Chambers and Danny Welbeck, but the Gunners boss offered an alternative view.
“Our profit did sink and is not as big as the years before because we spent a lot of money,” he added. “It’s good to have a little cushion in case we need to buy when the right players come up. If we need to strengthen the squad we will do it.
“In the last two years, we have invested a lot of money and we will continue to do so with the money that is available.”
Wenger confirmed that Mertesacker should be fit to face Tottenham at Emirates Stadium on Saturday, with Chambers set to fill one of the full-back roles after being asked to perform in the centre of the Arsenal defence earlier this season.