Aston Villa vs Arsenal: Gunners post financial results with £173m in the bank adding to the pressure on Arsene Wenger

Manager may again face calls to open his wallet after European struggles

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The Independent Football

Arsenal supporters calling for Arsene Wenger to bring in more major signings were handed further ammunition when the club announced huge cash reserves of £173.3m in their latest financial results.

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Wenger saw his side slump to a 2-0 Champions League defeat at Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday where the strength of his squad was badly exposed and the club’s recruitment policy brought into question yet again.

Despite only being five weeks into the new season, Arsenal fans have already voiced their unhappiness during the 1-1 draw at Leicester at the end of last month over Wenger’s stubbornness to strengthen the side.

That outcry, alongside Olivier Giroud’s ankle injury which will sideline the French striker until the new year, finally prompted Wenger – who was forced to defend £42m club-record signing Mesut Özil at his weekly press conference yesterday following a series of lacklustre performances – to move into the market and buy a striker with the deadline-day purchase of Danny Welbeck for £16m.

 

The £60m in transfer fees, plus wages and bonuses, spent on Welbeck, Alexis Sanchez and Mathieu Debuchy was not included in the new figures – but the revelation of such an amount in the bank will only cause further consternation among Arsenal supporters. It also adds fuel to the argument of those who feel the club are still not competing at the very top level for players despite winning their FA Cup – their first major silverware in nine years – last season.

“The club is in excellent shape, both on and off the pitch,” said chief executive Ivan Gazidis. “Our guiding principles are the same and our focus is clear, on delivering more on-field success. This remains the shared ambition of our majority shareholder Stan Kroenke, the board and everyone connected with the club. We are well placed to deliver against those ambitions.”

Wenger, whose side travel to Aston Villa today, was busy yesterday justifying his continued selection of Özil out wide, citing the example of the great 1970 Brazil World Cup-winning side to highlight that supreme players can make a system work.

Mesut_Ozil.jpg
Mesut Ozil

 

Özil, who won the World Cup with Germany in July, has been criticised for ineffective displays in both the Premier League and the Champions League this season. But Wenger claimed he would rather try to accommodate Özil in his starting line-up than leave a good player on the sidelines.

Wenger said: “This guy has played for the German national team and won the World Cup playing wide and nobody found a word to say. He has been criticised during the World Cup and still played well and he was always in every single team.

“[Zinedine] Zidane went to Real Madrid, he played on the left. There was never a debate and he had to play there because in the middle they had Raul and Ronaldo and he made room and played on the left. When you have the ball you play where you want and go where you want.

“It is a debate as old as the world. Since we played football. When you look at the Brazil team in 1970 they had Tostao, Rivelino, Pele, Jairzinho and Gerson. They played all No 10 in their club. They didn’t know what to do. They put them all together and they won the World Cup in a convincing way.

“What is [Jack] Wilshere? Basically a No 10. He played his whole life at No 10. Somebody had to go out there. Is it Wilshere, Özil, [Aaron] Ramsey and nobody is really natural out wide? So you keep good players out or you try to get them together.

“We organise to give him freedom. We have that desire to play well altogether and  I think we can really  achieve it. We can have a  fantastic team.”

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