ESPN FC: Arsenal's lack at the back
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has confirmed the January transfer window will see the club focus solely on bringing a striker into the club, but he admits the search may prove to be fruitless.
Wenger said on Thursday that the season-ending injury to Theo Walcott, sustained during the FA Cup third-round win against Tottenham on Sunday, has “accelerated his desire” to make additions to his squad this month.
However, the Gunners boss sounded out a note of caution when speaking at a news conference ahead of his side's game at Aston Villa on Monday.
“What I say is we are open to possible solutions and if something interesting turns up, we will do it. It could be a loan [deal] as well, yes,” Wenger said.
“Everybody has a right to have an opinion, but what I say is in January it is not easy [to sign players]. The priority is to play well on Monday night and win the game. That is our priority. After that, the priority for the media is to talk about the transfers. For me, it is to play good football.”
Wenger went on to deny that Arsenal are in negotiations with Real Madrid over a loan deal for striker Alvaro Morata, while stating his belief that the January transfer window should be scrapped.
“We are not in talks with Real Madrid about anybody,” he said. “I don’t speak about specific names. The people [being linked with Arsenal] in the newspapers do not help us to win games on Monday night.
“It’s always sensitive to talk about specific names, especially when players play at other Premier League clubs. At the moment we have no shortage unless we have some other big injuries.
“The transfer market is a distraction that for me is not welcome. It would be much better if there is no transfer market in January and the teams starting and finishing with the same players would be fair unless you have big injuries.”
Wenger suggested Germany international Lukas Podolski could provide a solution to his lack of striking options, and also touched on how the injury to Walcott has affected the England international.
“Podolski looks sharper in training now,” Wenger said. “He has been out for four months and needs time to come back. I don’t think we have seen the best of him yet. Football players can always improve. He is a fantastic finisher. One person you want see in front of goal in a shooting position is him.
“With Theo, it was a big shock to him because none of us expected such a bad injury straight after the game. It was devastating to hear that on Monday night. He is very strong mentally, level-headed and deals with it as well as he can when confronted with this kind of situation.
“I am convinced he will be back [as good as before]. Deep studies show that players around 25 with that kind of injury come back as normal. When you are over 29 or 30 you do not ever come back the same. But 25 to 28, you come back to the level you had before.
“What he has said to me is that he is under shock. He will fight as ever to come back. He is strong mentally. He had a few setbacks, a few disappointments. First to go to a World Cup at 17, to be left out in South Africa [for the 2010 World Cup] was certainly a massive blow to him, but he always recovered and I’m confident he will do it again. We will be on his side and always support him.”