Belfast Telegraph

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger challenging Gunners to fire for glory on all fronts

By Andy Sims

Arsene Wenger insists Arsenal will compete for every competition this season ahead of tonight's EFL Cup meeting with Reading at the Emirates.

The re-branded League Cup is usually a distant fourth in Arsenal's priorities, and probably more so now as they sit level with Man City and Liverpool at the top of the Premier League.

Wenger's training schedule was disrupted by the club's AGM yesterday but, in his speech to shareholders, the Gunners boss revealed his desire to get through to the quarter-finals.

"Our challenge is to compete for everything, starting (tonight) in the League Cup," he said.

"Even if you see some new faces, our desire is to qualify and fight for everything because I believe we have a squad that is more mature and better equipped to cope with all the challenges we have.

"I am committed to giving my best to ensure we are successful at the end of the season."

Wenger will make changes, so youngsters Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Rob Holding, Jeff Reine-Adelaide and Chuba Akpom, who played in the 4-0 win at Nottingham Forest in the previous round, could feature again along with Spanish forward Lucas Perez.

Striker Oliver Giroud could also be added to the squad following a toe injury, with Wenger determined to get back to winning ways after the goalless league draw against Middlesbrough on Saturday.

"That's our target," the Frenchman admitted. "Let's come back to winning habits straight away.

"It's about how you deal with disappointment and how you bounce back and I believe that the group is strong enough.

"We lost the first game here against Liverpool, and after that we bounced back in a strong way so that's what we want again."

Reading captain Paul McShane, meanwhile, says "the shackles are off" for his side as they put their primary objective of winning promotion on hold to tackle the Gunners.

McShane admits the Championship remains Reading's priority this season but insists at the same time they will be doing all they can to upset Arsenal, saying "everything is possible".

The 30-year-old defender conceded: "As a player, you want to be playing against big clubs like Arsenal week in, week out in the Premier League... so the league has got to be a priority. But that makes this one a bonus game for us.

"And it's not impossible. If you can get a good cup run and win a few games, suddenly you're in a semi-final and then a final - and if you win a cup, the club talk about it for years and years to come.

"The shackles are off. We'll go and enjoy the game, and everything is possible."

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