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English Premiership

Young Gunners fire warning shots

LONDON, August 2 – Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger admits the impressive form of young Gunners Jack Wilshere and Emmanuel Frimpong has persuaded him not to sign another midfielder.Wenger planned to bring in another central midfielder before the transfer window shuts at the end of August because he wasn’t convinced Wilshere and Frimpong were mature enough to play regularly.

But with Cesc Fabregas resting after the World Cup and fellow midfielders Abou Diaby and Denilson injured, Wenger threw the youngsters in at the deep end during the Emirates Cup and was delighted with their response.

English 18-year-old Wilshere and Ghana-born Frimpong, also 18, held their own against experienced internationals Gennaro Gattuso and Clarence Seedorf in Saturday’s 1-1 draw with AC Milan.

And they followed that by showing impressive tenacity and composure in a frenetic 3-2 victory over Celtic on Sunday that ensured Arsenal retained the Emirates Cup pre-season event at their north London stadium.

"At the start I was not convinced Wilshere and Frimpong could be the central midfielders but they have showed they can play there," Wenger said.

"We were considering going into the market for a midfielder but we won’t do that now.

"Wilshere has done really well. At 18 you have to have patience but I believe he is stronger than last year.

"The few months he played on loan at Bolton last season has given him something.

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"Frimpong is more of a fighter than a dribbler but he is eligible to play for England or Ghana and if I was English I would make sure he doesn’t get away."

While Wenger is no longer looking for a midfielder, he has plenty of other business to attend to before his side’s Premier League opener against Liverpool on August 15.

He would still like to sign at least one more central defender to make up for the departures of Sol Campbell, William Gallas and Mikael Silvestre.

And a move for a goalkeeper, possibly Fulham’s Australian international Mark Schwarzer, is also on the agenda, while there is still the issue of Cesc Fabregas’s future to resolve as the Gunners captain pines for a move to Barcelona.

With that hectic list in mind, Wenger admitted he was relieved to see his two new signings, Morocco striker Marouane Chamakh and French defender Laurent Koscielny, perform well over the weekend.

Chamakh scored in Saturday’s draw against Milan and gave a solid cameo as a substitute against Celtic, while Koscielny looked competent in both games.

"Overall I’ve very pleased with the two games. I’ve seen the two new players can fit in well and the young players have shown they can contribute," Wenger added.

Celtic manager Neil Lennon also took plenty of positives away from the tournament after his side fought back from two goals down to draw with Lyon and narrowly failed to recover from a three-goal deficit against Arsenal.

The Scottish club will try to overturn a 3-0 first leg defeat when they face Braga in the Champions League third qualifying round on Wednesday and Lennon said: "In hindsight this tournament has been alright for us.

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"It has showed us we can compete and has given us a lot of food for thought going into Wednesday."

Lennon’s side will face Braga without Aiden McGeady as the winger, subject of a bid from Spartak Moscow, is nursing a calf injury and a confused mind as he contemplates a move to Russia.

"Aiden is in a difficult situation. I’ve been there myself towards the end of my time at Leicester when Celtic were in for me," Lennon said.

"Your head is all over the place and I think he is in that place. I think he is genuine over the injury, he wants to play whenever possible."

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