Arsène Wenger admits he has to buy after bruising Champions League win

Arsène Wenger admitted that his determination to make new signings had been intensified as he counted the cost of a bruising Champions League play-off second leg against Fenerbahce.

Arsenal won 2-0 at Emirates Stadium and 5-0 on aggregate to advance into the draw for the competition's group stage on Thursday but Wenger lost Lukas Podolski to a hamstring tear that will take at least three weeks to repair. He also saw Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey, the two-goal match-winner, suffer problems. The manager hopes the two midfielders will be fit for the derby at home to Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.

Wenger has a list of transfer targets that he will pursue before the summer transfer window closes on Monday and he admitted that he liked the Chelsea midfielder Juan Mata, whose father and agent, Juan sr, was a guest in the Emirates Stadium directors' box.

Wenger almost signed Mata two years ago before the Spaniard joined Chelsea but Arsenal will not make a move for him now, even though the manager said that he had heard the player could be available. Wenger is frustrated by English clubs' refusal to sell to domestic rivals.

"I have heard like you, because I watched the game last night [between Manchester United and Chelsea] that Juan Mata could be on the market," Wenger said. "I don't know ... there is anyway a reluctance in England to sell to each other. I like him."

Wenger was asked whether Mata's father had been an invited guest of Arsenal. "No. I don't know. Maybe," he said.

Wilshere, whom Wenger had said was only 90% fit after his well-documented ankle problems, returned to the starting XI and he took a tackle to his right ankle from Raul Meireles in the 82nd minute, for which he required treatment. Wenger had used his substitutes but he said that he was ready to withdraw Wilshere and finish with 10 men, so concerned was he at Fenerbahce's physical approach.

"I wanted to take him off," Wenger said. "I would have played with 10 men. We were 2-0 up and they had to score five goals in 10 minutes. Even with 10 men, we could have avoided that. He wanted to go on. That's what he told the physio."

Wilshere would absorb further clattering challenges from Bruno Alves and Gokhan Gonul. Ramsey sustained a groin problem and departed in injury-time to leave Arsenal with 10 men. He, too, did not want to come off but Wenger said that he had intervened to make the decision.

"The negative of the evening is that we paid a heavy price on the injury front as we lost Podolski … I don't know how bad Ramsey is and I don't know how Wilshere responds to an ankle problem," the manager said.

"We have to check that in the morning. The tackles on Wilshere were disappointing but we cannot change that now.

"He looks all right but Podolski is definitely out for 21 days. Jack should be all right for Sunday [against Tottenham] and I am hopeful on Aaron as well. We have to check how severe Ramsey's groin is. I took him off with three or four minutes to go but I don't know how bad it is because I haven't seen him yet."

The Fenerbahce manager, Ersun Yanal, said that his team "did not target any single Arsenal player" but the consequence for Wenger was that the injuries have forced his hand still further in the transfer market, where his targets include Angel Di María, Mesut Ozil and Iker Casillas of Real Madrid and Newcastle United's Yohan Cabaye. He is also poised to sign the former Arsenal midfielder Mathieu Flamini as a free agent.

"Yes, this forces my hand," Wenger said. "We have to see how bad the injuries are but I cannot tell you more than that we are on the market. The whole world knows that now but I cannot give you more answers at the moment."

Powered by article was written by David Hytner, for The Guardian on Wednesday 28th August 2013 01.04 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010


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