Football: Arsene Wenger defends Arsenal spending policy from Jose Mourinho jibes

Arsene Wenger (left) has defended Arsenal's spending policy from criticism by Chelsea's Jose Mourinho.
Arsene Wenger (left) has defended Arsenal's spending policy from criticism by Chelsea's Jose Mourinho.PHOTOS: REUTERS, AFP

LONDON (GUARDIAN) - Arsene Wenger has recommended that Jose Mourinho check the "real statistics" if he wants to scrutinise Arsenal's transfer policy, citing his record of developing young players and adding that he does not think it worth listening to the Chelsea manager.

Wenger was responding to Mourinho's comments about the amount of money that Arsenal have spent trying to build a team capable of challenging for the Premier League title.

Mourinho, beginning his annual campaign to get under Wenger's skin even earlier than normal this season, had cited the acquisitions of Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil, Calum Chambers and Mathieu Debuchy as evidence that Arsenal were not as careful with their money as many people believe.

That drew a withering response from Wenger as he looked ahead to Sunday's meeting of the two clubs in the Community Shield. He said: "I believe that one day, if you make real statistics of the players we have developed here, and you compare them to all the other clubs, you would be surprised."

"If you want to create success - which we want desperately - the best way is to focus on what happens inside, try to do as well as we can, believe in the football we want to play and play it as well as we can, and let other people talk.

"You must not listen too much to what people say because sometimes in the same week I get two different reproaches. One is that I don't spend too much and another is I spend too much.

"We spend when we think we have to spend and do not listen too much to what people think or say. We just try to make the right decisions. When you have the money available, we spend it. When we don't have it, we don't spend the money."

Wenger has made only one signing in the close-season, with Petr Cech joining the club from Chelsea for a fee of just under £11m, and the Arsenal manager used Eden Hazard to make his point that the team from Stamford Bridge were actually the league's big spenders.

Wenger explained that he had tried to beat Chelsea to the Belgian's signing when he was playing for Lille. Asked how close it was, he said: "A few millions."

The Frenchman also said that he still believes Cech can become an even better goalkeeper in Arsenal's colours than he was for the club where he won the Champions League.

"Petr Cech was already at the top but he will still improve. He's at the stage of his career - 33 to 37 - where a goalkeeper can be at his peak. He has the desire. As long as you have the right attitude you can always improve in life. It's just down to him to keep at the top, physically, and from the rest with his experience he will always improve."

In turn, Wenger believes that will help his team to bridge the gap with Chelsea and make a sustained title challenge. He said: "You cannot say that we finished third in the league last season and that we have no chance at all. The desire is to improve and move up there to fight for the championship. If I didn't think that, it would mean we were standing still.

"Let's not forget that Chelsea won the championship with a comfortable distance so we have to make our way up. There was still a gap between them and the others.

"Manchester City, Manchester United and Liverpool have all made big efforts in the market and it's very difficult at the moment to speculate on these teams."

He also dismissed speculation that Chambers, who has been linked with a possible loan move to his former club Southampton, would leave this summer.

"I think it's important that I want to develop him as a centre-back. At the moment we have just the right number. He will get games here."