Arsenal will sign 'top' replacements if Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil go - Wenger
LONDON -- Arsene Wenger insists Arsenal can live without Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil and says the club will look to bring in "top-quality" signings if they cannot persuade the duo to sign new contracts.
Wenger gave his strongest hint yet that he will look to bring in new players in this month's transfer window, and said that will be even more likely if Ozil and Sanchez do not sign new deals.
Both are out of contract in the summer, with Sanchez widely expected to leave on a free transfer if he is not sold this month.
"How do we cope with that? First of all we have not lost them yet, and secondly we will respond to that by bringing in players of top quality," Wenger told a news conference on Tuesday.
"This club has lost many, many big players and has always responded very well. Massive players have left this club and the club will always be in a strong position on that front. But you want to keep your best players, yes."
Wenger dismissed reports linking Arsenal with a move for Chelsea defender David Luiz, but made it clear he is looking to strengthen the team as Arsenal push to get back into the Premier League's top four.
"We are out there, and look of course to do some things, yes. We will do, but when is very difficult to say because it doesn't depend only on us," Wenger said. "We are open in any position for the exceptional player who can give us a plus.
"Therefore it depends a little bit on the injuries as well. On the other hand I must say as well it depends on [if we] will manage to extend the contracts of the players who are at the end of their contracts in June. It will depend on that as well, because we will have to take the consequences of these decisions and respond to it."
Injuries are piling up for Arsenal going into Wednesday's crucial home game against London rival Chelsea, with Sead Kolasinac ruled out for two weeks after picking up a knock at West Brom on Sunday.
Kolasinac joins Aaron Ramsey, Nacho Monreal and Olivier Giroud on the sidelines, while Wenger said Mesut Ozil and Laurent Koscielny only have "a little chance" of being available on Wednesday.
Ozil missed the West Brom game with a slight knee injury while Koscielny limped off in the second half. Wenger said Ozil would have a test later on Tuesday, but added: "He hasn't been out at all since Crystal Palace, so I don't know."
He said the team doctors "were pessimistic about Koscielny" but that the centre-back had a 30 percent chance of being available.
Kolasinac's absence will likely mean another start for 20-year-old Ainsley Maitland-Niles, while 22-year-old Calum Chambers looks set for his third straight Premier League game at centre-back.
"We have a squad that can cope with [injuries]," Wenger said. "But we cannot lose any more players now, because we are a bit short."
Meanwhile, Wenger remains hopeful of signing Jack Wilshere to a new contract, but would not give an update on how talks are going.
"Sometimes you think one day you make progress [in negotiations], the next day you move back again. So as long as something is not signed, you don't like to talk too much about it," he said.
Arsenal are seven points behind third-placed Chelsea going into Wednesday's game at the Emirates after dropping more points in the 1-1 draw at West Brom.
However, they can draw on several good results against Chelsea recently, including last season's 3-0 win at home and the victories in the FA Cup final and Community Shield.
"The gap [to Chelsea] is not big at the moment. We know that our home form will be absolutely vital," Wenger said. "We've just come home from West Brom frustrated because we lost two points that were really frustrating. On the other hand we know that puts under even more pressure to deliver a big result tomorrow."
Mattias is ESPN FC's Arsenal correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @MattiasKaren.