September 18 2014 Latest news:
By James Cunliffe
Thursday, February 6, 2014
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger insists he has no regrets over failing to sign Liverpool striker Luis Suarez in the summer and claimed he was never out to replace Olivier Giroud.
The Gunners fell short in his pursuit of the Reds’ Uruguayan hitman, making two offers, the second a controversial £40million plus £1 bid – an amount they mistakenly hoped would trigger a clause in his contract allowing him to leave Anfield.
That is where the north Londoners travel for a lunchtime Premier League kick-off on Saturday – the first to two games in eight days against the Merseysiders.
Suarez is the top flight’s leading marksman this term with 23 goals, despite missing the first five league games of the campaign as part of his 10-game ban for biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic last season.
His goals, plus 14 from striker partner Daniel Sturridge, have kept Liverpool in the title hunt, although their manager Brendan Rodgers yesterday ruled out a challenge for anything other than a top four finish.
Arsenal fans again bemoaned their club’s failure to sign a striker in last month’s January transfer window. Asked if missing out on Suarez plays on his mind, Wenger said: “No, because you sometimes have regrets when you’ve had a player that [has] played for you and scores goals or does well somewhere else, but he was never our player.
“It’s just a situation that didn’t come off and that’s it.”
Pressed on whether it’s a deal he may try to resurrect this summer, Wenger said: “At the moment, no.”
After further failed attempts to land Wayne Rooney, Gonzalo Higuain and Demba Ba last summer, Olivier Giroud has remained the focal point of Arsenal’s attack this season and has notched 10 times.
Wenger said: “We never did want to replace Olivier Giroud. We always had complete confidence in him.
“I said at the beginning of the season that he has always done better in the second year, everywhere.
“He’s shown that again this season. He’s a very important player for us.
“I’m not surprised at all that he’s doing well.”
A victory for the Gunners on Saturday could send them five points clear of Chelsea and Manchester City at the top of the Premier League, albeit for a couple of hours, when their rivals play Newcastle and Norwich respectively.
Wenger’s side managed to keep Suarez and Sturridge quiet when they came to the Emirates in November – when the Gunners triumphed 2-0 – and the Frenchman admitted the plan then, as now, was “to dominate the game and leave them as few balls as possible”.
He added: “That will be one of our targets of course but at Liverpool the task might be a bit more difficult. The philosophy on our side has to be the same – to master the ball, have the ball and dominate the game.”
He added: “For us the important thing is to win the game. What happened in the summer [with Suarez] has nothing to do with that.
“If you want to win the game, what is for sure, is that he’s one of the players that we have to keep quiet.”
Arsenal could have Jack Wilshere available for the Liverpool game after an ankle injury has kept him out of the last two games.
Mikel Arteta, who took a knock in Sunday’s 2-0 win over Crystal Palace, will be fit to play, while Mathieu Flamini serves the second of a three-match ban