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Arsenal: Knocked out of EFL Cup; Wilshere discusses future; Milan striker linked

Arsenal were knocked out of the EFL Cup by Southampton on Wednesday night. The Gunners lost 2-0 after conceding goals from Jordy Clasie and Ryan Bertrand. This is a competition that Arsene Wenger has never won during his 20-year reign as Arsenal boss and supporters are disappointed that he didn’t field a stronger side against Southampton. He started Premier League regulars Aaron Ramsey, Alex Iwobi and Mohamed Elneny, but the young Arsenal side toiled on Wednesday night. Despite dominating possession, it was Southampton that looked more dangerous with the ball and their quick counter-attacking style caused the hosts a lot of problems. It was a fair result on the night.

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Although Arsenal will be disappointed, it could be a blessing in disguise as they would have started 2017 in four competitions. The Gunners don’t have the squad depth to challenge on four fronts and they will be better off focusing on the Premier League and Champions League. Arsene Wenger will realise the need to challenge for major honours and the EFL Cup doesn’t qualify as that. There is plenty of work to do for the club to be considered serious contenders for the Premier League, but having one less competition to focus on certainly helps.

Jack Wilshere has given an interview to Sky Sports in which he discusses Bournemouth, Arsenal and his future plans. It was a shock when the England international opted to move away from the Emirates Stadium on loan, but it is looking like the correct decision as he has worked his way back into the England squad. Although his long term future is up in the air, it is obvious that Wilshere wants it to be at Arsenal.

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“I read what the boss at Arsenal said and at the moment I’m focused on performing for Bournemouth and putting myself in a position where Arsenal want to offer me a new contract and I’m in a strong position at the end of the season.”

It would take some huge performances for Jack Wilshere to play his way back into Arsene Wenger’s plans, given the players that Arsenal have in central midfield. That said, Wilshere has the talent and throughout the interview his motivation is there for all to see. If he manages to stay fit and perform consistently for Bournemouth, Wilshere could provide a boost to Arsenal’s central midfield options next season. Wenger has struggled to find his best combination in the centre of the park and he may see Wilshere as an answer to that in the summer.

Finally, Arsenal could do some business in the January transfer window depending on their position in the league table. One player linked in the Daily Express is AC Milan striker M’Baye Niang. They report that Arsenal are monitoring his situation, with the Frenchman stalling on a new contract at the Italian club. He is contracted until 2019, but his current hesitancy to commit for the long term at AC Milan could lead to some bids in January.

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The 21-year-old is a versatile attacker, who can play on the wing or as a striker. It isn’t a position that Arsenal are desperate to strengthen, but given his electric pace and huge potential, Niang could still interest the Gunners. He is a direct runner who has become a key part of the new-look AC Milan side that is once again challenging at the top of Serie A. This does seem like a classic transfer rumour that does the rounds during the period between windows. I don’t think Arsenal will be making a move for Niang as there are other positions in the squad that need to be strengthened more urgently.

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