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English Premiership

Besieged Wenger in line for new deal

WENGERLONDON, England, February 18- Arsenal are preparing to offer Arsene Wenger a two-year contract extension.

At the same time, the Gunners boss is said to have held up his players for 45 minutes after their shock FA Cup exit to Blackburn to launch an inquest in the performance.

The Sun reports that the under-fire Frenchman has hinted he wants to stay to reach two decades in the hot seat, ending all talk he will go when his deal runs out in June 2014.

And the Daily Mail adds Wenger held an immediate inquest into his side’s failings after the shock defeat by Blackburn in a bid to salvage their season.

And the furious Arsenal manager is determined to replace struggling goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny.

Wenger kept his players in the dressing room on Saturday to thrash out what was wrong after his side were booed off the Emirates pitch following their FA Cup fifth-round defeat.

Wenger’s future has been in doubt after eight trophyless seasons and last autumn he knocked back an informal approach from the club to arrange talks.

But there has been fresh impetus in the boardroom to keep hold of the manager and develop a team to take advantage of the new financial fair play rules, which start to bite in two seasons’ time.

Wenger, whose £7million-a-year salary makes him one of the highest-paid bosses in world football, has indicated to insiders he would be prepared to sit down for talks. And that could see him signing fresh terms before the summer.

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Arsenal’s renewed commitment to Wenger could be viewed as a surprise. But is a clear show the Emirates powerbrokers retain faith he is the man to restore the club to its former glories.

Wenger has been at the club since October 1996 and has won three titles and four FA Cups — although there has been no major trophy since their Millennium Stadium triumph over Manchester United in 2005.

The news comes at a time when his stock with the fans is at the lowest ebb of his 17-year reign.

Arsenal’s last hope of any silverware this season is the Champions League. But they face German giants Bayern Munich in the last 16 with the first leg at home Tuesday night.

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