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.”