Wilshere close to new deal

Andre-Pierre Gignac’s first goal since his return from injury
moved Marseille level at the top of Ligue 1 with a 1-0 win at
nine-man Toulouse on Saturday.

Gignac returned from a broken foot off the bench late in the
midweek win at Bastia and saw Cheikh M’Bengue and Franck Tabanou
sent off before his 47th-minute introduction.

Andre Ayew had also missed a first-half penalty but France
striker Gignac decided the contest against his former club on 68
minutes.

The win lifted OM level with Lyon at the top, although Les Gones
can move clear tomorrow when they face a tough trip to big-spending
Paris St Germain.

Champions Montpellier moved into the top half of the table for
the first time this season as they secured a third consecutive win
– 4-0 over Bastia.

After Marco Estrada’s sensational 14th-minute opener,
second-half goals from Emanuel Herrera, Younes Belhanda and Anthony
Mounier ensured the recent resurgence of Rene Girard’s side has now
started to gather real momentum.

The 4-0 scoreline was Montpellier’s biggest win of the campaign
– beating the 3-0 success over Ajaccio only last weekend – as their
disappointing start has started to fade from memory.

Sixteen-year-old winger Neal Maupay came off the bench to score
a dramatic late winner as Nice came from two goals down to beat
Evian 3-2 at the Stade Municipal du Ray.

Maupay was given his Ligue 1 debut in the 87th minute and duly
rewarded manager Claude Puel, who saw his side move up to fourth,
with a volley in the first minute of stoppage time.

That looked unlikely when strikes from Yannick Sagbo and Cedric
Barbosa put Evian two goals to the good inside 13 minutes, but a
goal in either half from Dario Cvitanich levelled proceedings
before Maupay notched late on.

Troyes picked up only their second league win of the season, 3-2
over Ajaccio to move off the bottom of the table – but came close
to throwing away the victory at the death.

Jean-Marc Furlan’s side headed into the game having collected
just nine points from 17 games, but raced into a three-goal
interval lead thanks to strikes from Stephane Darbion, Benjamin
Nivet and Fabien Camus at the Stade de l’Aube.

The visitors finally got going in the closing stages – pulling
one back in the 89th minute through substitute Paul-Bastien Lasne
and reducing the deficit further in stoppage time when Johan
Cavalli’s free-kick flew in off the head of Troyes defender Granddi
Ngoyi – but they had left their charge too late.

Brest claimed their first away win, 2-1 at fellow strugglers
Sochaux. Cedric Bakambu gave the home side the lead in the second
half but goals from Kamel Chafni and Eden Ben Basat turned things
in Brest’s favour.

A first goal in six games was not enough for Reims to claim a
much-needed win as they drew 1-1 with Lille.

Despite the recent profligacy of Hubert Fournier’s team they led
with just six minutes on the clock through Anthony Weber.

However, just when they looked on course to claim a first win
since October 6, the home side conceded an equaliser to Dimitri
Payet.

Manager Arsene Wenger takes his misfiring side to bottom club
Reading on Monday night looking for a response to the Capital One
Cup humiliation by Bradford.

Wenger insists he has full confidence in his squad, who have
been criticised for a string of below-par displays this season
which have left them well off the pace in the Premier League.

And Wilshere’s intention to commit himself to the club will be a
welcome boost for the Gunners.

“I am talking to the club and I probably will be committing my
future to the club in the next couple of weeks,” he said.

“I know the team are going through a bad stage at the moment,
but that is like any team.”

The 20-year-old also sees no reason why Arsenal cannot turn
things around in 2013.

“We can still realistically win everything we are in. I know we
are a long way behind in the Premier League, but football changes
quickly,” Wilshere said at a FIFA 13 Ultimate Team appearance in a
Q&A reproduced on www.skysports.com.

“If we win three games and another team loses a couple and draws
one, we are back in it. It is not in our hands so we need a bit of
luck.

“We are in the last 16 of the Champions League, that is going to
be difficult, but we know in the Champions League anything can
happen. It is two games and we can beat anybody. We showed that at
home before when we beat Barcelona. There is no reason why we
cannot do it again.

“We have got a hard game against Swansea in the FA Cup, but if
we win that and a couple of big teams go out, anything can happen
in cup football.”

Wenger’s position has come under scrutiny following one of the
most testing spells of his 16 seasons at the helm.

But Wilshere is in no doubt the 63-year-old remains the best man
for the job.

“For me, there is no question he is the right man. You cannot
start questioning him because we have had a few bad results. The
players have to look at themselves,” Wilshere said.

“Every year he has been in the Champions League and there is no
other manager who has done that. He has built a legacy at this
club. He changed everything from when he came in 15-16 years ago.
He brought the Total Football, if you like, to Arsenal – the
passing game.

“He has also been great for me, has shown great faith in me from
when I was young. He stuck with me when I was injured and has still
stuck by me.”

Despite all of Wilshere’s positive rhetoric, the fact remains
Arsenal have not won a trophy since the 2005 FA Cup.

The midfielder accepts that run cannot be allowed to drag on
towards a barren decade.

“It is something we have to change. It is there and it adds to
the pressure. It has been too long for a club like Arsenal,”
Wilshere added.

“We used to win trophies in the past so there is no reason why
we cannot.

“We have got good players. Maybe there is just a mental block we
need to get over. When we get our first one, it can all start to
happen.”