Arsene Wenger said today that Tottenham Hotspur could discover that they struggle to integrate all their five new signings into the club, as Arsenal – who have acquired two free transfers all summer – prepare to face their old rivals on Sunday at the Emirates.
The Arsenal manager, who re-signed Mathieu Flamini yesterday, said that in his experience, wholesale squad change did not necessarily produce results immediately. Tottenham have signed Paulinho, Nacer Chadli, Roberto Soldado, Etienne Capoue and Erik Lamela already this summer with Vlad Chiriches and Christian Eriksen expected to arrive in the next few days.
Asked how he assessed Spurs' activity in the transfer market, Wenger said initially that despite being well aware of the players they had bought he found it "very difficult to predict" how Andre Villas-Boas would assimilate them all. Had Spurs closed the gap on Arsenal, having failed to finish ahead of them in the Premier League since 1995?
"I don't know, they tried very hard of course, that's normal," Wenger said. "But in our job there is a technical risk when you buy more than three players because you unbalance a little bit the stability of your squad. I know that in England it's very well seen [to buy players], but it's always difficult when you bring so many players in to predict how well they will do.
Later he added: "You have to find a way to integrate more. And your squad is always a balance, and there's a bit more risk. It [signing players] can work as well. It can click fantastically well, but there is a little risk in the stability of the squad and on the technical consistency.
"Honestly I must confess that I am not too much worried about their [Tottenham] risk [to Arsenal] and what they do. I believe you win games when you focus on yourself and the quality of our game. It's not a special statement for Tottenham. For us it's exactly the same. It's always difficult to integrate players together."
Asked whether he felt that Gareth Bale was worth the £86m that Real Madrid are anticipated to pay him, Wenger replied: "They are very generous". He added: "There are very, very, very few players [for whom] it justifies economically or makes sense to play over £50m."
With less than four days left until the transfer window closes at 11pm on Monday, Wenger said once again that he would "not panic buy" and that he was "confident" new players would come in. So far Arsenal have signed free agents Flamini and Yaya Sanogo. Wenger confirmed that Lukas Podolski has a "grade three" hamstring tear and will miss up to ten weeks. Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey will be fit for Sunday's game at the Emirates.
He said that when Flamini had returned to train with Arsenal this summer he originally had no plans to sign the French midfielder. "At the start I didn't want to sign him, I'll be completely honest about that," Wenger said. "I didn't envisage doing it at all. Circumstances and his attitude convinced me to do it.
"That's why at the end of the day, because I didn't expect him to be in that mental state and physical shape. Our job has a great quality. It is a good teacher of humility so you always have to be ready to change your mind. And he changed my mind."