After another parsimonious summer Arsène Wenger yesterday insisted he could spend £30m on a striker if he wanted to, but he did not need to. Wenger has spent a net £3.2m pre-season, most of it on Samir Nasri who should be fit to make his debut against West Bromwich Albion this lunchtime. He admitted he is likely to buy again, but the probable target is a midfielder, and it will not break the club's £11m transfer record set when Sylvain Wiltord joined from Bordeaux in 2000.
"I would spend £30m on one player," Wenger said, "but I have the quality. I have [Robin] Van Persie, [Emmanuel] Adebayor, [Nicklas] Bendtner – who I have been patiently building up to be at the level I want him to be. I have Carlos Vela, Eduardo Da Silva."
Wenger partially contradicted himself when he said: "I am able to make signings at very high prices but you have to have the cohesion in the way you buy. Man United is in the bracket of £20m-£30m, Chelsea is in the unlimited bracket. We have to be in our bracket, we have to be very shrewd. When we bought Adebayor, who was thinking Adebayor was a great player? We bought him at the time at €4.5m(£3.5m). It is not just the price of the player, it is about how good he becomes.
"I have the money available to buy the players but we go into the competition with the target of balancing the budget, which I think every manager should do. Three or four years ago we embarked on a different policy. We have opted for stability with young players who have the spirit of our game, the spirit of our club. I believe we can show we are more united, that should be one of the advantages we have.
"The quality of a manager is spotting players when they are not necessarily stars. Big signings reassure [fans], but good performances are better."
Nasri should replace Emmanuel Eboué on the flank but with Cesc Fabregas and Abou Diaby injured Wenger is likely to retain the midfield pairing of Aaron Ramsey and Denilson.
Albion will, said manager Tony Mowbray, seek victory. "You have to have a belief that you can win. Otherwise, why bother turning up?"
Arsenal are without a trophy since lifting the 2005 FA Cup but Wenger said: "Every season is the season you have to win something."