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Speaking after his side’s 4-0 humbling at the hands of Southampton on Boxing Day (Saturday), Wenger was asked when Wilshere, alongside a whole host of other injured players, might be ready to make their return to the field. Wenger’s honest, no-frills response will leave Arsenal fans across the world hugely disappointed — quotes from the Guardian:
“He will not be back before February, that’s for sure. Is there a comeback date? I say February but, honestly, I don’t know. I let him do his recovery. It’s going slowly. Once he goes outside to train and once he is back again into sharp, hard work, physically, you count five or six weeks. At the moment, he is not there yet.”
So, if Wilshere won’t be returning until roughly the three-quarter mark of the season, and the midfield is already depleted by injuries, surely Arsenal will be looking to the January transfer window in an attempt to strengthen their bid for this season’s Premier League title. Then again, it’s Arsenal and Arsene Wenger, so maybe not.
“[Buying players] is always the question you get. We have many players who are injured and will come back soon.
“Buy, buy, buy, buy is always the solution that people see. I think it’s true that we couldn’t score, but we conceded goals [against Southampton] and we have enough defenders.”
Wenger is famous for his “a player returning from injury is like a brand new signing” mantra, which in a way is true and laudable in a time where spending on players is clearly out of control, but how many more years will the Gunners suffer from the same setbacks — widespread injuries and a lack of first-team-capable cover — before he considers a different approach?
You know, just to see what would happen. In a season where Arsenal not only have a shot at winning the league title, but might actually be favorites to do so, one or two key signings in January might just be what puts them over the top. It’s true, there’s not a ton of value in the transfer market at the midway point of the season, but if overspending a little bit for the right player(s) leads to a title, isn’t it worth every penny?