Arsenal can win title, but can't compete in transfer market

Arsene Wenger, AC Milan v Arsenal

Bloggers welcome Peter Hill-Woods interview, but some have reservations about money

LAST UPDATED AT 11:55 ON Wed 5 Sep 2012

ARSENAL chairman Peter Hill-Wood yesterday warned Gunners fans that the club could not compete with their big-spending Premier League rivals, but declared that Arsene Wenger's side still had a good chance of winning the title while at the same time insisting that the Emirates board was totally unconcerned about the club's seven-year trophy drought.

In an interview with the London Evening Standard the old-Etonian said Arsenal had a "pretty good chance" of winning the Premier League this year, but explained that they would have to do it through "skilful selection of players" rather than big money signings.

"We're very ambitious and want to win but, if you don't have billions of petro-dollars to throw around, you're going to have to do it some other way," he said. "Arsene has money to spend but there’s a limit. We can't spend £50m on one player.

"That annoys a lot of people but clubs have to be sustainable. We're not going to go bankrupt in the way one or two other well known clubs have."

He added that it was "not a worry" that the team had not won any silverware since the 2005 FA Cup, even though the departures of Manuel Almunia and Robin van Persie this summer mean that there are now no players at the Emirates who have won a medal with the Gunners.

He also expressed complete faith in manager Arsene Wenger, but irritated some fans by praising his financial management skills rather than ability to win football matches. "He got an economics degree from Strasbourg University so he's certainly no fool," said Hill-Wood.

The Le-Grove blog said his comments did little to get rid of the perception that Arsenal are "only interested in being the most sustainable set up of all time".

Others bloggers agreed with Hill-Wood over the need to be careful with money but the influential Arseblog appeared to warn against complacency. "If he suggested we might be capable of doing a bit more then I don't think too many people would argue with that either," it said. Short Fuse suggested that his comments about big-money transfers were a "surrender".

But despite some reservations the Gunners faithful appeared pleased with Hill-Woods's comments. Lady Arse Gossip claimed the interview "reads very well".

In some parts of the interview he appeared to be playing to the gallery. "I do not see Spurs posing a problem for us this season," he stated, claiming that their bitter local rivals were hamstrung by the lack of a new stadium and would not challenge the Gunners this season.

He also declared that Wenger had been even more influential than his old rival Alex Ferguson. "He has changed the traditions of the club and the outlook of the Premiership," said Hill-Wood.

The chairman added that he was "disgusted" by anti-Wenger elements in the club's support and praised the manager's decision to bring in former defender Steve Bould as his right-hand man this season. Bould is flavour of the month at the Emirates at the moment after the side showed an unexpected defensive solidity while keeping clean sheets in the first three games of the season. · 

For further concise, balanced comment and analysis on the week's news, try The Week magazine. Subscribe today and get 6 issues completely free.