Wenger accepts African departures
Arsene Wenger will not blame the African Cup of Nations should his side fail to win the title.
By Chris Burton
Last Updated: 09/01/08 3:35pm
Arsene Wenger insists that he will not blame the African Cup of Nations should his side fail to win the title.
Along with Chelsea, Portsmouth and Everton, the Gunners have lost key players to the competition at a vital point of the season.
Kolo Toure, Emmanuel Eboue (both Ivory Coast) and Alexandre Song (Cameroon) could miss as many as nine games as Arsenal continue to fight for the Premier League title and both domestic cups.
Sitting just two points ahead of Manchester United, who have been unaffected by call-ups, the Gunners boss is well aware that the next few weeks could be vital.
However, despite the lack of numbers available to him he believes that the loss of the players will not be a valid excuse should his side eventually fall short.
"I believe it will be Chelsea who suffers most, though on the other hand they can buy more than anyone else to correct that," Wenger told the club's official website.
"But losing (John Obi) Mikel, (Michael) Essien, (Didier) Drogba and (Salomon) Kalou, that's four main players. Nobody else loses that many.
"We are just behind Chelsea and Portsmouth. But I won't use it as an excuse if we don't win the title because I've known who we will lose since the start of the season. If the players were injured, I wouldn't complain."
Despite the potential for failure when players have to leave for the tournament, the Arsenal boss is refusing to rule out bringing in more African imports in the future.
"It won't put me off, but when you do buy them (African players) you have to consider how many to go for," he said.
"If we lose four or five games at that time you can't win the championship so you have to consider the balance. You can afford to lose two maybe but not five. It's certainly a problem you have to consider."