By James Cunliffe
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Arsene Wenger admitted he is wary of transfer target Mohamed Diame’s threat from midfield as he sweats over his own limited options ahead of Arsenal’s clash with West Ham United in the Premier League tomorrow.
The Frenchman dodged questions over his January wishlist at this morning’s press conference but the north London club have been monitoring the Senegal international, who has a £3.5million buyout clause in his Hammers contract.
He could face his suitors in tomorrow night’s London derby at the Emirates Stadium after negotiations between the 25-year-old defensive midfielder and the Upton Park club over a new deal failed.
“He has a great presence in the game,” Wenger said of Diame, adding: “I’ve seen him in games where he had a big impact, for example [against] Chelsea.
“They have many players who can be dangerous, but he can drive the midfield, yes.”
After back-to-back league defeats victory against the Irons is crucial as Arsenal bid to make up the seven points deficit between them and bitter rivals Tottenham, who currently occupy the last Champions League spot.
But the Gunners face a midfield crisis for tomorrow’s must-win game, that could see their interest in Diame accelerated ahead of next week’s impending transfer deadline.
“It is a position where we are short,” Wenger said after announcing that Mikel Arteta (calf) and Francis Coquelin (hamstring) have been ruled out, while Abou Diaby (thigh) is set to be assessed ahead of the game.
“We are short when Arteta is not there because he is a player with a lot of experience and gives us stability.
“You could see that in the last two championship games.
“It is a position where we are a bit vulnerable at the moment.
“Diaby is one of the guys that we’ll have to check today.
“You could see that he was not completely, physically fresh from the start onwards [against Chelsea].
“He did dig deep on Sunday to do what he did.
“He played four games on the trot after being out for four months and I will have to check him today.”