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Football | Barclays Premier League

Wenger backs Arsenal to improve



Arsene Wenger has rejected claims the Arsenal board have failed to back him in the transfer market and indicated he is only interested in signing 'exceptional' players in January.

Alisher Usmanov, the club's second-largest shareholder, claimed Wenger, whose side travel to Wigan this weekend, should have been given more finances for new signings after Robin van Persie became the latest high-profile player to leave the north London club in the last transfer window.

Yet after recovering from the humiliating League Cup quarterfinal defeat to League Two minnows Bradford by beating Reading 5-2 this week, Wenger reiterated his belief that Arsenal's current crop of players are good enough to have a successful season.

"What is important is this team develops in the way we want to play," Wenger said.

"I saw some interesting aspects on Monday night at Reading. Let's see how far this team can go. If we can add one or two exceptional players, we will do it.

"What we do not want to do is add players just because people put us under pressure to buy players.

"That is where we have to be strong enough. If we find a player who will give us something special, we will do it - but in January that will not be easy.

"We have money, and why should I not spend it if it is to find the right players? I believe as well the first and most important thing is to keep confidence in the players we have. If we are consistent, we can come back."

Five players, including young England players Jack Wilshere and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, signed new deals this week to keep them at the Emirates Stadium on a long-term basis.

That will give the side a lift ahead of the trip to the DW Stadium when Arsenal know a victory could take them above London rivals Chelsea, who play Aston Villa 24 hours later.

But Wenger insisted he has no problem with the amount of money he has been given to spend in the transfer market over the past few seasons, despite also losing stars like Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri and Alex Song.

"I believe I have always had the support from the board, and am very grateful for that," Wenger said.

"We have worked over the years in respecting what we did, which is to always work within our financial resources.

"Therefore we made decisions which from outside looked not based on purely footballing reasons, but it was based as well on financial reasons."

Wigan could once again be without as many as eight first-team players with their defence looking particularly short on options.

Spanish defender Antonio Lopez could be out for eight weeks with a hamstring problem and he joins Ben Watson, Ryo Miyaichi, who is on loan from the Gunners, and Albert Crusat as long-term absentees.

Latics manager Roberto Martinez hopes that defenders Gary Caldwell, Antolin Alcaraz and Ivan Ramis and key midfielder James McCarthy will be available over Christmas but expects Saturday's game to come too soon for the quartet.

Wigan have lost five of their last seven matches, but Martinez said: "It's rare to have the amount of injuries we've had, and in one position, but we can look forward.

"We're looking forward to the game and it's an opportunity for the players available to show what they can do.

"They were impressive at Reading the way they moved the ball and opened Reading up.

"You are starting to see the new signings adapt to the league and people like (Lukas) Podolski and (Santi) Cazorla were at their best and Arsenal have real style and real talent.

"It will be an open and exciting game but we feel we are in need of getting points."

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