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Wenger to respond to Arsenal slump with off-season spending spree

Date

Jeremy Wilson

Troubled waters ... Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger.

Troubled waters ... Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger. Photo: AFP

Arsene Wenger is facing a defining off-season at Arsenal, with the club planning to entrust him with their largest ever transfer budget -regardless of whether they secure Champions League qualification.

Arsenal's FA Cup defeat against Blackburn on Saturday prompted an outpouring of anger from the home crowd at the Emirates Stadium but the club's faith in Wenger and their strategy is unshaken, even if they do go another season without silverware and fail to finish in the top four.

Around £70 million ($A105 million) will be - available for squad strengthening in the off-season, with Arsenal targeting "three or four" players, including a genuinely world-class striker to fill the void that has been left by Robin van Persie.

Target ... Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes.

Target ... Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes. Photo: AFP

Wenger's current contract, however, expires in 2014, leaving Arsenal - facing a potentially momentous decision over their most successful manager at some stage in the next year. Both Wenger and Arsenal would surely accept that the steady downward momentum of recent seasons must be reversed for the partnership to continue into another contract.

An immediate opportunity is provided by the Champions League tie against Bayern Munich tomorrow, with Wenger planning as many as six changes from the team that lost to Blackburn on Saturday. Wenger believes that his main job ahead of tomorrow will be to rebuild the players' damaged confidence and admitted that their collective mentality has become a significant problem.

Saturday was the first time that Arsenal had lost in the FA Cup to lower league opposition since Wenger's arrival in 1996. It follows the humiliation of being knocked out of the Capital One Cup by Bradford earlier this season.

Fiorentina striker Stevan Jovetic.

Fiorentina striker Stevan Jovetic. Photo: AP

"It is vital for the end of our season that we respond in a strong way," Wenger said. "First you have to rebuild the confidence because we are not playing against Blackburn on Tuesday. We play Bayern Munich so a lot of confidence will be needed.

"We have a great team but we still have to show more maturity on the mental front. We have to understand what it means to win big games. The top level is about consistency in every single game. Mentally, we are not capable at the moment of preparing in exactly the same way for every game. Maybe they still thought 'OK, we're playing at home against Blackburn, it will be difficult but we will win the game anyway'. It doesn't work like that."

Arsenal will publish their half-yearly accounts in the next fortnight, with the club expected to post sizeable profits due to the summer sales of Van Persie and Alex Song. Their running costs, however, remain virtually at break-even due to the size of a wage-bill that is the fourth highest in the Premier League.

January signing ...  Nacho Monreal.

January signing ... Nacho Monreal. Photo: Getty Images

Arsenal, though, do have an estimated cash balance of more than pounds 150?million, although much of this is for running costs and contingencies. This will be further boosted by the new Emirates shirt sponsorship deal, which is front-loaded, and a kit deal that is expected to be agreed imminently, probably with Nike or Adidas.

Arsenal's spending power would inevitably be affected if they lost the annual revenue of between £20 million and £40 million for the Champions League, although the club do not specifically budget for this in their business plan and this would not affect their existing cash reserves.

Wenger, who said the players were "angry and hurt" after the defeat on Saturday, does believe he has the core of a squad that can challenge the two Manchester clubs for the Premier League title in future seasons if he can add proven quality in selected positions.

His plan is to supplement his group of young British players, such as Jack Wilshere, Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Kieran Gibbs and Aaron Ramsey, with more players of a similar status to Lukas Podolski and Santi Cazorla. Having tried to sign David Villa and Etienne Capoue in January, Arsenal's only addition was Nacho Monreal at left-back.

Wenger's thinking was that it was better to keep the money for the summer if his targets were not available. There will be huge pressure on Wenger, however, to attract major signings this summer. Capoue remains a target but he is now likely to target younger strikers than Villa, with Fiorentina's Stevan Jovetic being watched regularly.

Goalkeeper and right-back are other areas that are being specifically scouted. Bacary Sagna is increasingly likely to leave this summer while Wojciech Szczesny is now playing for his future as Arsenal's first-choice goalkeeper. There is a growing sense that Szczesny could benefit from more experience alongside him and a spell out of the first-team, with Wenger interested in Pepe Reina, Victor Valdes and Asmir Begovic.

The defeat against Blackburn on Saturday also posed questions about the depth of his squad and it is expected that Sagna, Podolski, Cazorla, Wilshere, Walcott and Aaron Ramsey will all return to the starting team against Bayern tomorrow.

Thomas Vermaelen, the Arsenal captain, said the "terrible" FA Cup result was because the side "didn't respect the game sometimes". He is adamant, though, that the Champions League does still represent a realistic chance of a trophy this season. "Anything can happen in the Champions League - we saw that last year with Chelsea - I believe in our chances," he said.

"Chelsea last year was an inspiration for everyone," Jack Wilshere said. "They weren't having a good season and they got a bit lucky in some games but showed great character. We need to come together as a team."

The Telegraph, London

Hyundai A - 2014-15 - All Rounds

Round 1
Fri, 10 OctTimes shown AEDT
VIC 4 vs WSW 1 Stats
Sat, 11 OctTimes shown AEDT
CCM 1 vs NEW Stats
SYD 1 vs MCY 1 Stats
Sun, 12 OctTimes shown AEDT
WEL 1 vs PER 2 Stats
BRI 1 vs ADE 2 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Fri, 17 OctTimes shown AEDT
ADE 1 vs VIC 1 Stats
Sat, 18 OctTimes shown AEDT
CCM 1 vs WEL 2 Stats
SYD 3 vs WSW 2 Stats
Sun, 19 OctTimes shown AEDT
MCY 1 vs NEW 1 Stats
PER 3 vs BRI 2 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Fri, 24 OctTimes shown AEDT
BRI vs SYD 2 Stats
Sat, 25 OctTimes shown AEDT
VIC 5 vs MCY 2 Stats
Sun, 26 OctTimes shown AEDT
WEL 4 vs NEW 1 Stats
ADE 2 vs PER Stats
Wed, 19 NovTimes shown AEDT
WSW vs CCM Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 4
Fri, 31 OctTimes shown AEDT
MCY 1 vs ADE 2 Stats
Sat, 01 NovTimes shown AEDT
PER 2 vs NEW 1 Stats
Sun, 02 NovTimes shown AEDT
SYD 2 vs CCM Stats
Mon, 03 NovTimes shown AEDT
VIC 2 vs WEL Stats
Wed, 03 DecTimes shown AEDT
WSW vs BRI 1 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 5
Fri, 07 NovTimes shown AEDT
WEL 1 vs WSW Stats
ADE vs SYD Stats
Sat, 08 NovTimes shown AEDT
NEW 2 vs VIC 2 Stats
BRI 1 vs MCY 3 Stats
Sun, 09 NovTimes shown AEDT
CCM vs PER 1 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 6
Fri, 14 NovTimes shown AEDT
NEW vs BRI 4 Stats
Sat, 15 NovTimes shown AEDT
ADE 2 vs WEL 1 Stats
SYD vs VIC Stats
PER 2 vs WSW 1 Stats
Sun, 16 NovTimes shown AEDT
MCY 2 vs CCM 2 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 7
Fri, 21 NovTimes shown AEDT
VIC 1 vs BRI Stats
PER 2 vs WEL 1 Stats
Sat, 22 NovTimes shown AEDT
WSW 1 vs NEW 1 Stats
MCY 1 vs SYD 2 Stats
Sun, 23 NovTimes shown AEDT
CCM vs ADE 2 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 8
Fri, 28 NovTimes shown AEDT
VIC 3 vs ADE 2 Stats
Sat, 29 NovTimes shown AEDT
BRI 1 vs PER 1 Stats
WSW 1 vs SYD 1 Stats
Sun, 30 NovTimes shown AEDT
WEL 5 vs MCY 1 Stats
NEW 1 vs CCM 1 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 9
Thu, 04 DecTimes shown AEDT
SYD 1 vs PER 2 Stats
Fri, 05 DecTimes shown AEDT
CCM vs VIC 3 Stats
Sat, 06 DecTimes shown AEDT
NEW 1 vs WEL 3 Stats
ADE 2 vs WSW Stats
Sun, 07 DecTimes shown AEDT
MCY 1 vs BRI Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 10
Fri, 12 DecTimes shown AEDT
ADE vs BRI 1 Stats
PER 2 vs NEW Stats
Sat, 13 DecTimes shown AEDT
WEL 1 vs CCM 1 Stats
VIC 3 vs SYD 3 Stats
Wed, 11 MarTimes shown AEDT
WSW 3 vs MCY 2 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 11
Fri, 19 DecTimes shown AEDT
NEW 2 vs ADE 1 Stats
Sat, 20 DecTimes shown AEDT
MCY 1 vs VIC Stats
PER 4 vs CCM 1 Stats
Sun, 21 DecTimes shown AEDT
SYD vs WEL 2 Stats
Wed, 25 MarTimes shown AEDT
BRI 1 vs WSW 4 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 12
Fri, 26 DecTimes shown AEDT
MCY 1 vs PER 1 Stats
SYD vs ADE 3 Stats
Sat, 27 DecTimes shown AEDT
CCM 3 vs BRI 3 Stats
VIC 1 vs NEW Stats
Sun, 28 DecTimes shown AEDT
WEL 1 vs WSW Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 13
Tue, 30 DecTimes shown AEDT
NEW 2 vs MCY 5 Stats
BRI vs SYD Stats
Wed, 31 DecTimes shown AEDT
ADE 1 vs WEL 3 Stats
Thu, 01 JanTimes shown AEDT
WSW vs CCM Stats
Fri, 02 JanTimes shown AEDT
VIC 1 vs PER 2 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 14
Sat, 03 JanTimes shown AEDT
SYD vs NEW Stats
Sun, 04 JanTimes shown AEDT
WEL 3 vs BRI Stats
CCM 2 vs MCY Stats
Mon, 05 JanTimes shown AEDT
PER 1 vs ADE 2 Stats
Tue, 06 JanTimes shown AEDT
WSW 1 vs VIC 2 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 15
Sat, 24 JanTimes shown AEDT
ADE 7 vs NEW Stats
CCM 1 vs SYD 5 Stats
Sun, 25 JanTimes shown AEDT
PER 3 vs VIC 3 Stats
Sun, 01 FebTimes shown AEDT
MCY 2 vs WSW 1 Stats
Mon, 02 FebTimes shown AEDT
BRI 3 vs WEL 2 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 16
Fri, 06 FebTimes shown AEDT
NEW 1 vs BRI 2 Stats
Sat, 07 FebTimes shown AEDT
CCM 2 vs ADE 1 Stats
VIC 3 vs MCY Stats
PER 1 vs SYD 3 Stats
Sun, 08 FebTimes shown AEDT
WSW 2 vs WEL Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 17
Fri, 13 FebTimes shown AEDT
CCM vs BRI 2 Stats
Sat, 14 FebTimes shown AEDT
WEL vs MCY Stats
NEW 1 vs WSW 1 Stats
SYD 3 vs VIC 3 Stats
Sun, 15 FebTimes shown AEDT
ADE 1 vs PER 1 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 18
Sat, 21 FebTimes shown AEDT
SYD 4 vs CCM 2 Stats
ADE 2 vs WSW 1 Stats
Sun, 22 FebTimes shown AEDT
WEL 2 vs NEW 2 Stats
MCY vs PER Stats
Wed, 15 AprTimes shown AEST
BRI 1 vs VIC 2 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 19
Fri, 27 FebTimes shown AEDT
MCY 3 vs ADE 1 Stats
Sat, 28 FebTimes shown AEDT
NEW vs CCM Stats
WSW 3 vs SYD 4 Stats
PER 2 vs BRI 2 Stats
Sun, 01 MarTimes shown AEDT
VIC 2 vs WEL 3 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 20
Fri, 06 MarTimes shown AEDT
NEW vs SYD 1 Stats
Sat, 07 MarTimes shown AEDT
WEL 2 vs ADE Stats
VIC 1 vs PER 1 Stats
Sun, 08 MarTimes shown AEDT
CCM 1 vs MCY Stats
BRI 1 vs WSW Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 21
Thu, 12 MarTimes shown AEDT
ADE 2 vs CCM 1 Stats
Fri, 13 MarTimes shown AEDT
WSW vs VIC 3 Stats
Sat, 14 MarTimes shown AEDT
MCY 4 vs NEW Stats
PER 1 vs WEL 2 Stats
Sun, 15 MarTimes shown AEDT
SYD 5 vs BRI 4 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 22
Fri, 20 MarTimes shown AEDT
SYD vs MCY 1 Stats
Sat, 21 MarTimes shown AEDT
WSW 1 vs NEW 2 Stats
ADE 2 vs VIC 2 Stats
Sun, 22 MarTimes shown AEDT
CCM 1 vs PER 1 Stats
BRI 1 vs WEL 2 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 23
Fri, 27 MarTimes shown AEDT
VIC 2 vs CCM 1 Stats
Sat, 28 MarTimes shown AEDT
MCY 1 vs BRI Stats
PER 3 vs WSW 2 Stats
Sun, 29 MarTimes shown AEDT
WEL vs SYD 3 Stats
NEW vs ADE 1 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 24
Thu, 02 AprTimes shown AEDT
BRI 6 vs CCM 1 Stats
Fri, 03 AprTimes shown AEDT
WSW 1 vs MCY 1 Stats
Sat, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
SYD vs ADE 1 Stats
Sun, 05 AprTimes shown AEST
WEL vs VIC 3 Stats
Mon, 06 AprTimes shown AEST
NEW vs PER 2 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 25
Fri, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
VIC vs NEW 1 Stats
PER vs SYD 3 Stats
Sat, 11 AprTimes shown AEST
ADE 2 vs BRI 3 Stats
CCM 1 vs WSW Stats
Sun, 12 AprTimes shown AEST
MCY vs WEL Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 26
Fri, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
WEL 3 vs CCM 2 Stats
NEW 3 vs SYD 4 Stats
Sat, 18 AprTimes shown AEST
WSW 2 vs ADE 1 Stats
BRI vs VIC 1 Stats
Sun, 19 AprTimes shown AEST
PER vs MCY 17:00nib Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 27
Fri, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
BRI vs NEW 19:40Suncorp Stadium
Sat, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
WSW vs PER 17:00Pirtek Stadium
ADE vs MCY 19:30Coopers Stadium
Sun, 26 AprTimes shown AEST
WEL vs SYD 15:00Westpac Stadium
VIC vs CCM 17:00AAMI Park
View All Fixtures
Round 28
Fri, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
vs 15:00TBC
Sun, 03 MayTimes shown AEST
vs 15:00TBC
View All Fixtures
Round 29
Fri, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
vs 15:00TBC
Sun, 10 MayTimes shown AEST
vs 16:00TBC
View All Fixtures
Round 30
Sun, 17 MayTimes shown AEST
vs 16:00TBC
View All Fixtures
Hyundai A - 2014-15 - Ladder
Overall standings
Team P W L +/- Pts
Melbourne Victory 26 14 4 23 50
Sydney FC 26 13 5 16 47
Wellington Phoenix 26 14 8 11 46
Perth Glory 25 12 5 7 44
Adelaide United 26 13 9 12 43
Melbourne City FC 25 9 8 0 35
Brisbane Roar 26 9 13 -2 31
Central Coast Mariners 26 5 13 -22 23
View all
 
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