Arsene Wenger faces headaches after Arsenal loss

Opening loss increases pressure on Arsenal manager to spend to bolster his squad

PUBLISHED : Monday, 19 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 19 August, 2013, 3:34am

An opening-day Premier League defeat, a growing injury list and the weight of an unspent transfer kitty hang heavily over Arsenal as they head into Wednesday's Champions League play-off clash with leading Turkish team Fenerbahce.

The Gunners suffered a shock 3-1 home defeat by Aston Villa on Saturday, finding themselves unable to capitalise on Olivier Giroud's early goal as Christian Benteke scored twice and full-back Antonio Luna grabbed a debut goal for the visitors.

Matters were made worse by injuries to Kieran Gibbs, after a clash of heads with Andreas Weimann, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who came off second best in a challenge with Luna, and Bacary Sagna, Tomas Rosicky and Aaron Ramsey.

Influential midfielder Mikel Arteta is already out for about six weeks with a thigh problem while injuries kept Nacho Monreal, Thomas Vermaelen and Abou Diaby out against Villa.

Despite having up to £70 million (HK$847 million) to spend on new players, Arsenal have brought in only French youth international striker Yaya Sanogo in the close season.

Manager Arsene Wenger has also seen high-profile pursuits of Gonzalo Higuain, Luis Suarez and Luiz Gustavo, who made a strong debut for German club Wolfsburg on Saturday, fall through.

Wenger again said he would be willing to spend before the transfer window shuts on September 2, but many Gunners' fans at the Emirates Stadium made their feelings clear with calls of "spend some money".

Should they lose the two-legged play-off against Fenerbahce and miss out on the Champions League for the first time, attracting big-name talent will become even harder.

Wenger acknowledged there were issues ahead of the first leg in Istanbul.

"It's a big disappointment to lose a game like that because we prepared well, apart from the fact the players were away on international duty," he said.

"We started well and then suddenly everything went against us and in the end we lost 3-1 so it is a big blow and even when we had 10 men we had chances to come back to 2-2," added Wenger, referring to Laurent Koscielny's 67th-minute sending off.

"Not only did we lose the game but we have a few injuries. We have problems with some players in terms of recovering for Wednesday night."

Wenger said he sympathised with the frustrations of the supporters who have seen some of the club's leading players leave in recent seasons and the team fail to challenge for trophies.

"Yes, I can understand that," he said. "We want our fans to be happy. When you don't achieve that, you feel absolutely sorry and really disappointed.

"My job is to make the fans happy. We haven't lost the game because of that.

"That's what I just want to convince you of, That we are in the market, everybody knows that we are ready to buy players.

"Until we buy players we have to win football games and it's not an excuse not to have bought players to have lost the game."