Arsene Wenger has spoken about his decision to sign five new players before the close of the transfer market and stressed his belief that the current Arsenal squad is more mature than that which started last season.
The Frenchman snapped up defensive duo Andre Santos and Per Mertesacker, midfield pair Mikel Arteta and Yossi Benayoun and striker Chu Young Park in a frantic 48 hour period as he looked to cover the loss of Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri, Gael Clichy and Nicklas Bendtner.
Speaking about his squad in his pre-match press conference, Wenger told assembled press:
“The squad is stronger. If you look at the squad now and imagine Wilshere and Diaby coming back, plus the players like Vermaelen who will come back soon and I think we have a more mature squad.
“I think Fabregas and Nasri were mature because they are 24, but we have now the players of the quality that we wanted who were available.
“The age was not a priority for me, if Arteta had been 24 and Benayoun 24 I would have taken them as well. It is a fact that they have more experience.”
Asked whether he would also have liked to have signed Gary Cahill, for whom a bid was lodged with Bolton Wanderers, Wenger admitted that the England international was a defender he admired but refused to compare him directly with Per Mertesacker.
“I don’t want to compare. Personally I like Cahill as a player. Both are good players, Mertesacker is a good player he has more experience, more international experience. Cahill is a young, promising English player. Both would have done well for us, we’d have accepted both.”
With Jack Wilshere injured it appears likely that both Mikel Arteta and Yossi Benayoun are challenging for places in the starting line-up against Swansea on Saturday, as such the coach confirmed he had high expectations of the pair’s ability to integrate quickly.
“I expect him [Arteta] to have an immediate impact and the same of Benayoun because they are players I rate highly for their technical qualities. For me they are mobile and technically gifted and that’s a game that we want to play so they should integrate well into the team.”