Wenger out to beef up Gunners

LONDON. — Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has admitted he’s hoping to sign two players in the next 10 days.

The 65-year-old revealed last month that he expected to be “busy” in the window following injuries to Francis Coquelin and Santi Cazorla.

The Gunners are believed to be on the cusp of bringing Basel midfielder Mohamed Elneny to the Emirates in a £7.4million deal.

And, though Wenger says no deal is imminent, he’s revealed he’s hopeful of completing a couple of deals in the next 10 days.

“I don’t give much away (about transfers) because I don’t know (what’s going on),” said Wenger.

“I want to talk about them and hopefully we are capable of doing something in the next 10 days.

“It’s more about quality than quantity because our players will not stay out injured forever. Francis Coquelin is starting to run, Santi Cazorla will be back in mid-February, and Mikel Arteta is back now so, hopefully, if we can add one and, if needed, two maximum.”

Meanwhile, Wenger praised Arsenal’s grit and determination as they moved two points clear at the top of the English Premier League soccer table with a tense 1-0 win over Newcastle United.

After watching Laurent Koscielny’s 72nd-minute strike secure three points at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday, Wenger said winning ugly will help his players believe they can do so again if they are unable to overwhelm an opponent with their attacking play.

“It was a difficult game against a good Newcastle side,” the Gunners boss said. “Our legs were a bit heavy and we were tested against a team with a lot of good technical quality.

“Our fluency and our movement were not there. From then on it was: Let’s stick together and try to win the game however we can.

“The mental aspect of our team was tested and our defensive solidity more than our ability going forward.

“If you’re in Newcastle’s place you’re sorry for them because they played very well. But I’m in the game long enough that when you’re capable of winning and you don’t play well, that shows the mental aspect of your team.

“Not to drop points when you play like we did is very important. I think it helps the team as well because we go through moments in the season when we will not play well and the memory of having done that before and still having won the game helps you to hang on sometimes.”

A valuable element of Arsenal’s resilience was the reliability of goalkeeper Petr Cech, who made two excellent saves from Georginio Wijnaldum either side of half-time.

“He made two big saves, one in the first half and one at the beginning of the second and on top of that he stays calm, never panics and today we needed that,” Wenger said.

As he surveyed a haul of nine points from a Christmas programme of matches against Manchester City, Southampton, Bournemouth and now Newcastle, Wenger agreed that his team had not been consistent but pronounced himself satisfied.

“We have given a lot over Christmas and we had games before like that,” he said.

“At the end of the day, four games, how many points have you made? We knew nine would be acceptable or even good, 10 close to ideal because last year Man City made 10, the second-best made seven, we made six.”

Newcastle manager Steve McClaren was also pleased with his team’s display, which was only lacking quality finishing. — AFP.

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