Wenger will rethink his spending if Arsenal miss top-four spot


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The Independent Football

Arsène Wenger has indicated he will review his transfer policy this summer if Arsenal fail to finish in the top four for the first time in his 16-year reign at the club.

Arsenal's current standing in seventh place, five points below fourth-placed Chelsea and the lowest they have been under the Frenchman at this stage of the season , has thrown focus on the perceived weaknesses of the current squad, as well as raising the prospect of the club failing to qualify for the Champions League for the first time since 1997.

The manager has steadfastly rejected claims he should spend more freely and target more experienced, established players despite his side's failure to land a major honour since 2005, insisting his preference for nurturing youthful talent better supports Arsenal's long-term future.

Criticism of his failure to act decisively, however, has resurfaced after another transfer window during which his budget was left largely intact. Anything but victory over Blackburn Rovers at the Emirates Stadium today will provoke further discontent after a run that has brought just one point from the last four league games, particularly amongst those supporters planning a protest at the lack of transfer activity. A draw or worse against Steve Kean's struggling team would leave the top four an even more distant target and should Arsenal fail to recover ground, Wenger admits he will review his strategy.

Asked if that might mean spending heavily, he said: "We'll make that analysis at the end of the season."

Wenger described his team's recent run as a "little crisis" but claims there were enough signs in Wednesday's scoreless draw at Bolton Wanderers and the second-half recovery to win 3-2 against Aston Villa in last Sunday's FA Cup tie to suggest the worst is over.

"The competition is very interesting and I am confident that we will come back into a strong position," he said. "The fact that we have never been in this position is rather a credit to me in 16 years so I do not take that as a blame."

Andrei Arshavin has recently been a target of frustrated supporters but Wenger does not expect the midfielder to leave despite interest from Russia. "I have a huge respect for Andrei Arshavin and if you would see him behave every day you would have one as well," he said.