Arsene Wenger 'cheating fans' by not buying striker, says Paul Merson
Arsene Wenger has been accused of 'cheating' Arsenal fans by refusing to buy a striker despite knowing that striker Danny Welbeck had suffered a serious injury.
Welbeck was ruled out until Christmas on Thursday after learning that he required surgery on a knee injury.
It leaves Arsenal facing a dearth of striker options, with Wenger effectively limited to Olivier Giroud, Alexis Sanchez, Theo Walcott and Joel Campbell as his options to play up front. Of those, only Giroud could be classed as an out-and-out centre-forward.
Arsenal were repeatedly linked with moves for Karim Benzema and Edinson Cavani during the summer transfer window, but Wenger ultimately refused to sign a single outfield player. The only addition to his squad was Petr Cech in goal.
That stance has infuriated many fans and former Arsenal forward Paul Merson has now added his voice to the chorus of criticism, suggesting Wenger is being disingenuous to supporters.
“It cheats the fans," he said. "They think ‘what are we coming for? We turn up every week, pay the highest prices and what for - the top four? We might get a day out at Wembley again in the FA Cup.’ Wow-ee!
“Just put in a bid for Benzema - £75m. If Real Madrid turn around and say ‘we’re not selling him’, you can’t argue with that. You’ve put in a bid and if they turn it down or the lad doesn’t want to come, that’s the way it goes. But show something.
“There’s a saying in life: Keep on doing the things you do and you’ll get the same results. How different is this season going to be for Arsenal? It’s the same team that finished 12 points behind Chelsea last year. Why, this year, will this team finish above Chelsea?
“I can tell you now, there will be a phase this season when they’ll be unbelievable, win seven on the trot and play the best football you’ve ever seen. But at the end of the season, with this team and no signings, I’d be absolutely shocked if they won the Premier League.”
It is the latest example of Merson and Wenger being involved in a public row. Merson - who was sold to Middlesbrough by Wenger in 1997 - was one of the most outspoken critics of Arsenal's performance against Anderlecht in the Champions League last season, when they threw away a three-goal lead.
That prompted a rebuke from Wenger, who said: "I managed Paul Merson. I tried. I'm not interested in Paul Merson.
"These debates are a joke, a farce. People who have managed altogether zero games teach everybody how you should behave. It's a farce. Honestly, I cannot even be upset about it.
"People criticise without any proven fact, just because they love to criticise. It’s much more about bitterness than any real objective facts.”