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Wenger plays down January activity

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has dampened down expectations that he will splash the cash in the January transfer window in a bid to revive his team's flagging season.

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After the club triumphantly announced a new £150 million sponsorship deal with Emirates Airlines last month, the expectation was that Wenger would finally flex his muscles in the transfer market and shed his tag of being the most financially prudent manager in the Premier League.

Yet while Wenger has insisted he is not afraid to spend big as he looks to breath life into his Arsenal squad, he has been quick to reject suggestions that he is plotting to buy his way out of trouble with a glut of signings next month.

"The game is not all about money," said Wenger. "We have to continue to believe that it's not only about that. What is the game about then?

"Football has to be even, interesting, unpredictable. I don't say that money doesn't play a part in it, but it's not only about that.

"It doesn't mean we will not spend money. I am always painted like a guy who refuses to spend money, like a greedy guy, but I just think I act like a responsible manager because we went through a period where we had restricted funds and I acted in a responsible way.

"We will see where we stand at the end of the season but we have just qualified for the last 16 of the Champions League. People who have spent a lot of money have not done it. So we have to trust this team and stand behind them because they deserve it. They will deliver.

"I have big respect for the passion about the game in England, I have big respect for this country, but football is more than just splashing out. It's much deeper, much bigger than that. It's about sweat, thinking, working hard. It's what makes this football strong and interesting. I am scared all these qualities have less importance in the game today."

Meanwhile, Wenger has lavished praise on West Bromwich Albion boss Steve Clarke ahead of his side's visit to Emirates Stadium on Saturday, as he has suggested that the trend for hiring foreign managers that his arrival at Arsenal in 1996 may have ended.

"I think you have a lot of competent coaches in England and when they get a chance, I am very happy about that," added Wenger. "Clarke is one of them, he knows the game well.

"The most important thing is to be in touch with the top, top level to see what is requested. He has done that for a long time. He shows now that he is ready for the job. You need that in a country, a good mixture, some input from outside but the core of the coaching has to be from your own country."

Baggies boss Clarke is one of 13 British managers working in the Premier League this season, with the top five clubs chasing promotion to England's top flight heading into this weekend's fixtures also all British.


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