Arsenal eye signings after booking Euro berth

LONDON - Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger was renewing his quest for major signings on Thursday after his side battled through to the Champions League group stages and tried to move on from an otherwise horrid start to the campaign.

The 2-1 win at Udinese on Wednesday set up a 3-1 aggregate victory in the Champions League play-off and meant the 2006 runners-up made the group stages for the 14th season in a row.

The achievement should aid the Londoners in trying to attract new recruits in the final days of the August transfer window as Wenger attempts to fill the void left by the loss of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri to Barcelona and Manchester City.

The Frenchman was giving little away but Lille winger Eden Hazard, West Ham United midfielder Scott Parker, Blackburn Rovers defender Chris Samba and Bolton Wanderers centre-back Gary Cahill have all been linked in the media.

"We work very hard [on signings]. I have said that many times, but we have many players out as well so I think we can be very positive as well," Wenger said in Udine.

"There may be signings but I cannot give you any names tonight. I cannot lie and say we sign somebody tomorrow."

One of the big positives for Arsenal from their trip to north-eastern Italy was the performance of a signing they have already made - former Lille forward Gervinho.

The Ivorian was sent off on his Premier League debut and had so far failed to convince the Arsenal faithful but he showed superb pace, guile and composure on Wednesday as he set up both goals.

He helped an inexperienced side belie their patchy early domestic form and bravely fight back after a first-half onslaught put the hosts ahead.

Robin van Persie and Theo Walcott netted following Antonio Di Natale's opener while Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny made a stunning penalty save from the Italian.

It was a small but hugely important step to redemption for Wenger, who has revolutionised the club in his 15-year reign but has been criticised like never before after six trophyless seasons.

"We live in a society where everybody has an opinion on everything. I'm like somebody who flies a plane for 30 years and I have to accept that somebody can come into the cockpit and thinks he can fly the plane better than I do," he said.

"But that's part of our job and we have to accept that. I just would like to say that the club is in overall a very strong position."

The financial benefits of reaching the group stage plus the vast transfer fees for Fabregas and Nasri could at least herald a spending spree rarely seen by Wenger in the coming days.