Arsenal positive after 'difficult' Asian tour

PUBLISHED : Monday, 29 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 29 July, 2013, 3:55am


Arsenal have gone home on a positive note after what manager Arsene Wenger called a "very difficult" pre-season Asian tour.

"We are well advanced in our preparation," Wenger said as he looked to the season ahead, but added that it may take time to recover from the gruelling Asian tour.

"It depends now on how quickly we'll recover from that trip because it was very difficult."

The Gunners won all four of their Asian tour matches, although they struggled in the final match against J-League side Urawa Reds on Friday, squeezing through with a 2-1 victory.

Wenger enforced an intense training camp in Japan, with two tough sessions a day in temperatures of 30 degrees Celsius and at least 75 per cent humidity.

The French manager had already guided his 24-strong squad through even hotter conditions in Indonesia and Vietnam.

After signing 20-year-old French youth international striker Yaya Sanogo from Auxerre, Wenger has yet to clinch any high-profile deals before the start of the new season.

Arsenal have not taken a Premiership title since 2004.

Their repeated attempts to sign Liverpool's Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez have been rejected. The Gunners are preparing a third bid for Suarez after first offering £35 million (HK$417.4 million) and then £40,000,001 to Liverpool previously.

Wenger, 63, said the changing nature of the transfer market had made it tough to close deals.

"What has changed recently is that in Europe, countries like France have bought some very talented players who would two or three years ago all have come to England, he said. "That makes the chase for talent very difficult."

"We want as many top players as we can, but we have to focus on the [current] players and develop them as well," he said.

"In midfield you have plenty of candidates. There's a big fight in midfield. [Bacary] Sagna has settled in well as a centre back. We have a strong squad. We are there in the market trying to strengthen our team."

Frenchman Sagna, 30, has denied speculation he might move back to France, with Paris Saint-Germain and Monaco reportedly showing an interest in him.

French international striker Olivier Giroud, who scored six goals in three games during the Asian tour, believes Arsenal are already stronger than they were when he joined them last season.

"We have more knowledge now," Giroud said. "We also didn't lose anyone during the summer for the first time in a few years," he said.