Wenger coy on Aubameyang deal

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger insists he is not close to signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from Borussia Dortmund or anyone else.

The Gunners have sold Alexis Sanchez and Theo Walcott already this month and were believed to be lining up a move for the Gabon international.

However, Wenger is unsure whether a deal for the highly-rated 28-year-old will be completed before the end of the month.

He said: "Confident or not confident? I don't know. We are not close to a deal with Aubameyang or anyone else.

"It's one possible movement but we have other things in mind as well. The final decision is not made."

Meanwhile, Wenger is adamant that he wants to keep Danny Welbeck, even though the England international has endured an injury-ravaged time with Arsenal following his transfer from Manchester United.

The Frenchman added: "I want Danny Welbeck to stay here."

Arsenal take on Chelsea in the second leg of their EFL Cup semi-final on Wednesday, with Wenger saying of the match against Antonio Conte's side: "It's an important game.

"We want to go to the final. The two teams know each other very well. At some stage, the teams will have to open up so it should be much more spectacular than the first one.

"It has always been very tight and it's very unpredictable. Honestly, I don't see any favourite in the tie."

Arsenal are 6/5 to qualify for the final and 9/1 to beat Chelsea 1-0 in the second leg. Wenger's team are 4/1 to win the EFL Cup outright, while Chelsea can be backed at 10/3 to triumph.

Hodgson wants four signings

Roy Hodgson has said that he wants four new signings to bolster his Crystal Palace squad before the transfer window shuts.

With about two weeks of the January transfer window remaining, Hodgson prepares for the task of securing new signings from a position of strength.

Having arrived at Selhurst Park with the team bottom of the Premier League without a point or even a goal after their first seven games, the former England boss has seen the team revive their fortunes in style.

The Eagles are now 12th in the Premier League table, five points clear of the bottom three and within sight of the top half.

Having won successive league games, against Southampton and Burnley, Palace face Arsenal away on Saturday and Hodgson says that his plans for activity this month were discussed as soon as he arrived at club.

At a press conference ahead of the match against the Gunners, he said: "Our realistic thoughts after I'd been in the club two or three weeks was four, to make the squad as balanced and well-covered as it could be.

"I don't think it's unrealistic to think if we could get more than four players, it would be good for us, if we don't get the four players then our squad is going to be short of numbers apart from anything else."

Hodgson said that injuries to the likes of Jeffrey Schlupp and Ruben Loftus-Cheek have increased the need to bring new players in during this window.

Palace are 19/4 to win at the Emirates on Saturday and increase the pressure on Arsene Wenger whose side are 1/2 with the draw 7/2. 

Palace are 2/1 to end the season in the top half of the table.

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Wenger open to starting Sanchez

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has revealed he would have no issue starting Alexis Sanchez against Crystal Palace on Saturday despite the player edging towards a January exit.

Having seen Manchester City pull out of the race to sign the 29-year-old, Manchester United are in pole position to land the Chilean international.

Talks are thought to be ongoing with Sanchez and United but for the moment the player is still on the books at Arsenal and manager Wenger is adamant he would be happy to start the South American against Palace this weekend.

He told reporters: "As long as it's not over the line you have to accept it may not happen. These kind of things are not guaranteed.

"I have no problem with Sanchez's attitude. He was in training yesterday fully committed. He is 29 years old and the next contract will of course be very important to him."

Speaking about the possibility of United midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan heading in the opposite direction as part of the deal, Wenger added: "I like the player. We played many times against him when he was at Dortmund. He appreciated the quality of our games. The wages would not be a problem."

The Gunners are 1/2 to win, 7/2 to draw and 19/4 to lose to the Eagles at the Emirates Stadium.

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Wenger admits Sanchez leaving

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has accepted that Alexis Sanchez will be leaving the club this month with both Manchester clubs still interested.

The Chilean almost joined Manchester City in the summer with a deal falling through on deadline day.

However, with United now having joined the chase he looks to have played his last game for Arsenal, having been left out of the Gunners side who lost at Bournemouth.

Before that game Wenger addressed the fact that Sanchez was missing from the team. When asked if a move was imminent he replied: "Yes. Don't read too much in it because even I don't know which way it will go.

"He's being vague at the moment. The situation is not completely decided one way or the other, so I left him at home."

To make matters worse for Wenger, his side lost 2-1 at Bournemouth; the Cherries first ever win over Arsenal.

Hector Bellerin gave Arsenal the lead early in the second half but two goals in four minutes, from Callum Wilson and Jordan Ibe turned the game around and, though the visitors poured forward in search of an equaliser, they were lacking the invention often provided by Sanchez.

The result means that Arsenal are sixth in the Premier League table, five points off a top four place. It was also their second defeat in the space of a week after they were knocked out of the FA Cup by Nottingham Forest last weekend.

They are still in the EFL Cup having drawn with Chelsea in the semi-finals first leg and they are 4/1 to win the trophy at Wembley next month.

Arsenal are back in Premier League action next weekend, at home to Crystal Palace and, without a win in five matches, they are 4/9 to put that right against Roy Hodgson's improving side. The Eagles are 5/1 with the draw priced at 15/4.

Eddie Howe's side now have a four-point gap on the bottom three following this vital win and they are up to 13th in the table.

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‘Phenomenal’ Sanchez interests United

Jose Mourinho admits there are 'some players in the football world' that a club like Manchester United must try and sign if available, with Alexis Sanchez amongst them.

The Chilean forward is out of contract at Arsenal this summer and is being widely linked with a move away from the Gunners during this month's transfer window.

Manchester City is believed to be the preferred destination for Sanchez, though the Premier League leaders are said to be unwilling to pay more than £20m for a player that will be a free agent in the summer. Arsenal are holding out for closer to £35m for their player.

Manchester United are looking on with interest from the sidelines and, while not keen to talk about Arsene Wenger's player, Mourinho admits the Red Devils have a duty to be on top of the situation if Sanchez is to become available.

"I don't think it's correct to say things about Alexis Sanchez," the Portuguese said.

"At the general level, what I can say is that myself and the Manchester United board, we don't believe a lot in the January market. We don't believe in signing players just to sign a player, just to do something. We don't believe in that.

"What we believe really is that there are some players in the football world, if you have a chance to sign them, it doesn't matter if it is in January, March or July, you have to try.

"But in relation to Alexis Sanchez, I don't say a word. The only word I can say is the same word that everybody says, he's a phenomenal player.

"Apart from that, (he's an) Arsenal player, I feel I shouldn't say much more than this."

Man United are 2/9 to beat Stoke on Monday night at Old Trafford. The Potters are 14/1 while the draw is 6/1.

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Howe hands Simpson new deal

Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe has handed Jack Simpson a new two-and-a-half-year deal with the club.

The 21-year-old defender is now contracted to the Cherries until at least June 2020.

He has made three-first team appearances for Howe's side this season and scored on his debut during the 3-1 Carabao Cup fourth-round victory over Middlesbrough.

Meanwhile, Howe thinks Lewis Cook can be as good as Jack Wilshere, who spent last season on loan at the Vitality Stadium, and has set the former Leeds United player the target of being involved in this summer's World Cup.

Cook has featured in 14 of Bournemouth's Premier League games this season and could play against the Gunners on Sunday. Bournemouth, 3/1 to be relegated this season, are 15/4 to beat Arsene Wenger's team.

Howe said: "I can see why you make the comparison [between Cook and Wilshere]. I always think players are slightly different but there are links between Jack and Lewis – they are a similar stature, for a start.

"They are technical, creative players with an eye for goal. They are difference-makers.

"I've got a lot of time for Lewis, I think he is going to be an outstanding player and if he can get close to Jack's levels in the next few years, it will be great for him.

"I think the World Cup should be Lewis' target, I really do. Why not?"

Wenger: Sanchez hard to replace

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger accepts that is will be difficult to replace forward Alexis Sanchez if he exits the Emirates Stadium this month.

The Chile international is out of contract in the summer and is reported to be a target for Manchester City, with Manchester United also rumoured to have entered the bidding for the former Barcelona forward.

And Wenger admits that the balance of his side will change if Sanchez does opt to move on, telling reporters: "Is Alexis replaceable in the way that we find exactly the same players? Certainly not. But there's always a way to find a different balance.

"Alexis is an exceptional football player, he's a world-class player and, if that happens (he leaves), we have to find a different balance in the team."

Of the current situation surrounding Sanchez, who has scored 60 goals in 122 Premier League appearances for the Gunners since his arrival in the summer of 2014, Wenger added: "Normally he would stay until the end of the season, but we'll see.

"Nothing is really concrete at the moment and nothing is decided one way or another. Of course I want a quick resolution."

Meanwhile, Wenger also praised Sanchez for his continuing commitment, which the Frenchman says has not wavered despite recent speculation about his future.

He concluded: "When he's on the football pitch he wants to win, he's committed. I've never questioned his professional attitude when he's on the football pitch."

The Gunners are in action at Bournemouth on Sunday, with the visitors having claimed a win and a draw on their two previous Premier League visits to Dean Court.

Arsenal are priced at 3/4 to win on Sunday and are 8/1 to secure a 2-1 victory, with Danny Welbeck available at 11/10 to score at any time.

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Allardyce confirms Walcott interest

Sam Allardyce has revealed that he is aiming to bring Arsenal's Theo Walcott to Everton before this month's transfer window closes.

The 28-year-old has spent more than 12 years with the Gunners but has slipped out of the first-team picture this season and failed to impress last weekend when making a rare appearance in the 4-2 FA Cup third-round loss at Nottingham Forest.

Allardyce has already signed striker Cenk Tosun from Besitkas for £27million this month but has sold Ross Barkley to Chelsea.

The Toffees boss said Walcott, who is also being linked with a return to Southampton, would be a "fantastic addition", who would offer a "goalscoring threat".

He added: "I don't think there's a chance of a loan. It's not imminent but negotiations are going on.

"I don't get optimistic otherwise I get disappointed. I'll be very excited and enthused when someone, even if it's not Theo, has signed on the dotted line.

"He's scored 100 goals for Arsenal from wide positions. His pace is a key strength which we lack. To add goals would be very important for me and he's only 28."

Walcott has scored 108 goals in 395 games for Arsene Wenger's side but has only made five brief substitute appearances in the Premier League this season.

Everton play Tottenham at Wembley on Saturday evening and can be backed at 12/1 to win the match while Tosun is 9/2 to score at any time.

Allardyce's side are 4/11 to finish in the top half of the Premier League this season while Spurs are 5/4 to seal a top-four spot.

Wilshere plays down injury fears

Jack Wilshere has suggested that he may have recovered from an ankle injury in time to feature for Arsenal at Bournemouth on Sunday.

Gunners boss Arsene Wenger had said after the 0-0 draw against Chelsea in the first leg of the EFL Cup semi-final on Wednesday that Wilshere would not be able to play against the Cherries because of the ankle sprain that forced the midfielder to be substituted at Stamford Bridge.

However, the 26-year-old, who has made 11 Premier League appearances this season, said on Twitter: "Thanks for all the messages and support after Wednesday night. Good news is I should be back in a couple of days."

Meanwhile, Francis Coquelin has admitted that he should have left Arsenal earlier after completing his £12million transfer to Valencia.

The French midfielder has only started one Premier League game for Wenger's team this season, and said: "It's true that there was interest in the summer but in my head I wanted to continue at Arsenal and do well there.

"It wasn't to be and now this opportunity has come up.

"I almost regret not having come before. I think it's an excellent opportunity for me and I'm very grateful. It's a big challenge, and a new start in my life for me, which I'm very excited about."

Arsenal, 11/4 to finish in the top four of the Premier League this season, are 3/4 to beat Bournemouth on Sunday and 7/1 to win the match from behind.

Coquelin close to Los Che move

Arsene Wenger has announced that Francis Coquelin is set to complete a transfer to Valencia this month.

The Arsenal manager confirmed the news after his side's goalless draw on Wednesday at Chelsea in the first leg of the EFL Cup semi-final.

The 26-year-old Frenchman, who is set to join Los Che for a reported £12million, has featured in 105 Premier League games for the Gunners.

When asked if Coquelin was about to leave Arsenal, Wenger replied: "Yes.

"He goes to Valencia, he didn't get enough games. I let him go."

Coquelin, who has never scored a goal for Arsenal, has started only one Premier League game this season.

"The best way to replace him is getting [Aaron] Ramsey and [Mesut] Ozil back," Wenger added.

"Then we'll see. We have players injured."

Meanwhile, Jack Wilshere, who has started seven of Arsenal's last nine games, was forced to limp out of the goalless draw at Stamford Bridge after appearing to twist his ankle.

Arsenal are 6/5 to qualify for the EFL Cup final and 11/4 to finish in the top four of the Premier League this season.

They visit Bournemouth on Sunday and can be backed at 8/11 to beat the Cherries and at 7/1 to win the match from behind.