Wenger: Arsenal must sell before buying as 33-man squad is ‘not manageable’

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Arsene Wenger wants to slim down his Arsenal squad before making any further additions.

Some of the north London club’s shortcomings, particularly defensively, were exposed as they suffered a 1-0 defeat at Stoke in the Premier League on Saturday.

Gunners manager Wenger has not ruled out more signings before the transfer window closes at the end of the month, but his immediate priority is to move out unwanted players.

“I expect to sell players first,” the Frenchman said. “We have too many players. It is not manageable. Many clubs are in this situation – that is why the transfer market is quiet.

“We have 33 players at the moment. We have too many players.”

Regarding arrivals, Wenger said he could not get into “transfer mode” in the immediate aftermath of the loss at the bet365 Stadium.

Arsenal outplayed Stoke for long spells and were aggrieved not to gain at least a point after a strong penalty appeal was rejected and a goal disallowed. They spurned a host of other chances.

Hector Bellerin felt he should have been awarded the spot-kick after being brought down by Mame Biram Diouf in the first half.

Jese Rodriguez compounded their frustration by scoring a superb debut goal for the Potters early in the second period.

Arsenal finished strongly with Alexandre Lacazette rifling home a fierce shot but he was ruled marginally offside.

Wenger conceded his side, who despite their dominance were vulnerable to counter-attacks, were caught out, but dismissed the general criticism of the defence that has grown since last week’s frantic 4-3 win over Leicester.

“Last week we conceded two goals on corners and they only had three shots on goal, so I don’t believe we defended so badly,” he said. “On set-pieces, yes.

“But here I say we could look at ourselves and, on the goal we conceded, we were 100 per cent guilty.”

Wenger, who expects Alexis Sanchez to be fit next week, added midfielder Mesut Ozil “did fine” and should not be singled out for criticism.

“Personally, I don’t think he deserves it,” he said of remarks from TV pundits Steven Gerrard and Martin Keown.

Stoke boss Mark Hughes felt his side had proved a point to their critics after showing resilience to hold out for a notable first win of the season.

He said: “I felt it was important we put in a performance. A lot of people were maybe questioning what we were about this year, for some reasons that were valid and others that were ill-informed and didn’t have the whole story.

“At the end of a window if you are stronger than you were at the beginning – it doesn’t matter how much you spend – you’ve had a good window, and I believe we have, even now with two weeks to go.”

The signing of Jese certainly paid a quick return. The former Real Madrid forward joined the club on a season-long loan from Paris Saint-Germain only last week but immediately looked ready for the challenge.

His running troubled the Arsenal defence and he was an instant hit with the majority of the stadium-record 29,459 crowd at the newly expanded venue.

“I am really happy for him,” striker Saido Berahino said. “It was a brilliant debut for him, especially at home in front of our fans.

“We were put under a lot of pressure by Arsenal but we kept in there and that shows the character of the lads. They were brilliant.”

Source: PA

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