Despite seeing his Besiktas side crash out of the UEFA Champions League to Arsenal, Slaven Bilic doubts the Londoners can win the competition.
After a goalless draw in Istanbul last week the Turks knew if they managed to score at the Emirates Stadium they would be in a good position to progress, but despite creating chances, they couldn’t find a way through. So Alexis Sanchez’s first half goal was enough for the Gunners, who clinched their place in the group stage for a successive 17th season despite Mathieu Debuchy being sent off with 15 minutes left to play.
After the match a relieved Arsene Wenger insisted he would not be rushed into the transfer market to sign a striker, although Olivier Giroud could e sidelined until the New Year with an ankle injury. Yet Bilic believes this would be a mistake by the Frenchman, as he doesn’t believe Arsenal can go beyond the likes of Bayern Munich and current holders Real Madrid when it comes to challenging for the Champions League crown.
“I would love it (if Arsenal won it) because it would make us look like contenders,” the former Croatia coach told Sky Sports. “If they improve (they have a chance), and of course they are going to improve, the league just started and they have got a few injuries. They are missing the strikers although Alexis Sanchez was good tonight. But to win it? With Bayern Munich and Real Madrid? Football is strange but it would be difficult.”
Wenger has been linked with a host of strikers this week, notably Manchester United’s Danny Welbeck, Monaco ace Radamel Falcao and, somewhat bizarrely, 33-year-old former Birmingham City target-man Nikola Zigic. However, the Gunners coach has played down such speculation, and with the window set to close at 11pm on Monday evening, he insists that at least for the moment, he has no plans to add to his options.
“You will ask me straight away who we will buy,” Wenger said. “I will give you the answer – at the moment, no-one. If you want to make everyone happy, you buy all of these players but what is important is the performance on the football pitch. You cannot buy every time a player is injured. We are open for any position as long as we feel the player can strengthen the existing squad. Buy to buy? I don’t see the purpose of that.”
The options Wenger speaks of are 21-year-old Yaya Sanogo and 22-year-old Joel Campbell, who have just 10 Premier League appearances between them, whilst Giroud’s injury would appear to end any chances Juventus may have had of luring Lukas Podolski from the Emirates. Theo Walcott, meanwhile, has been out of action with a cruciate ligament injury since January, but could be back in full training during September.
Once other potential option for Wenger is Loic Remy, currently of Queens Park Rangers. The 27-year-old has been linked with Arsenal in the past, and sparked speculation when he was in attendance for the pre-season Emirates Cup competition. Although the Gunners boss denied any knowledge of the striker’s presence at the stadium, he will no doubt be aware that the former Marseille star has an £8.5million release clause in his contract.
Arsenal fans, is Bilic right? Without a new striker, do you have any chance of winning the Champions League? And who do you think Wenger should sign? Why not let us know your thoughts by joining in with the discussion below!