Champions League: Wenger eyes frantic end to window after Europe boost

Frank Dalleres
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ARSENAL manager Arsene Wenger heaped praise on match-winner Aaron Ramsey after the Gunners all but secured their Champions League status and a £30m windfall – but insists he still needs a midfielder.

Wenger, who was last night also linked with Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema after admitting defeat in his pursuit of Liverpool’s Luis Suarez, said he would now dip into a £70m budget as the transfer deadline nears.

Comparing the window to a mass game of poker, Wenger’s comments came after Arsenal placed a stranglehold on this two-legged play-off tie with second-half goals from Kieran Gibbs, Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud.

“Quality-wise we don’t need anybody but number-wise we are short,” Wenger said of his injury-hit midfield, after defender Laurent Koscielny became the latest casualty.

“The transfer market starts for me now and a lot of activity will happen between now and 2 September. It is like a poker game. People hold their cards for as long as possible. It is always like that.”

Wenger had faced a torrent of criticism and a cacophony of calls to spend since losing Saturday’s Premier League opener 3-1 at home to Aston Villa, but his men dominated from start to finish in Turkey.

Chances proved elusive before half-time, with Giroud’s glanced header wide and shot over when off balance Arsenal’s best efforts, while Walcott terrorised left-back Michal Kadlec.

But just six minutes after the break Gibbs proved the unlikely saviour, the defender arriving at the far post to convert Walcott’s square ball for only his fourth goal in 108 appearances.

Ramsey was the architect of the opener, his pass releasing Walcott, but the second goal was all his own work, the Wales midfielder striding to the edge of the box and drilling past weak-wristed goalkeeper Volkan Demirel.

The Gunners inflicted a third goal, and almost certain elimination, on last season’s Europa League semi-finalists when Giroud stroked a languid penalty after Walcott had been felled.