Wenger weaker and Arsenal still can't defend - Merson pulls no punches in transfer assessment

The former Gunners star believes the man in charge at the Emirates had business dictated to him, with a lack of defensive additions most bemusing

Arsene Wenger had January transfer business dictated to him and is “weaker” for it, says Paul Merson, while a lack of defensive additions remains baffling.

The Gunners are widely considered to have enjoyed a productive winter window, having acquired Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in a £55 million club-record deal and Henrikh Mkhitaryan in exchange for Alexis Sanchez.

Merson, though, has suggested that new head of recruitment Sven Mislintat was responsible for the additions, with Wenger’s input on the wane.

The former Gunners midfielder has also questioned a lack of movement at the back, with Arsenal having bolstered an already well-stocked attacking unit while failing to address their deficiencies at the opposite end of the field – despite being heavily linked with the likes of Jonny Evans.

Merson wrote in a column for the Daily Star: “Arsenal spent a lot of money during the transfer window – but the new arrivals just made Arsene Wenger weaker.

“My old club finally loosened the purse strings but there is no way it was Wenger spending all that money. You can put that down to new recruitment boss Sven Mislintat.

“He’s come in from Borussia Dortmund and so he knows Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan and you can bet it was him who pushed for both of those deals.

“Aubameyang is 29 this summer and they’ve paid nearly £60m for him – when has Wenger ever done something like that?

“He’s a good player but he’s all pace and he’s not going to get any quicker at that age. There’s no sell-on value for Arsenal at all, so it’s very unlike them.

“But it doesn’t address the big problem at Arsenal anyway. They still can’t defend!

“How can you pay all that money for Aubameyang and fail to get Jonny Evans from West Brom? I find that amazing.

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“Defending has been Arsenal’s Achilles heel for years but what did they do to correct it in this window? Absolutely nothing. Good luck with that.

“I don’t think these signings buy you a top-four finish. They leave you with more questions to answer.”

Arsenal sit sixth in the Premier League table at present, eight points adrift of London rivals Chelsea and the final Champions League spot.