Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said he hopes to have a deal for Basel midfielder Mohamed Elneny wrapped up in "the next 2-3 days" ahead of the Gunners' FA Cup third-round clash with Sunderland on Saturday.
Per the Independent's Tom Sheen, Elneny has been reportedly on the verge of a move to the Emirates Stadium for the last week, but it has yet to be completed.
Wenger is confident, though, that all will be resolved soon in the capture of the 23-year-old Egyptian, per the Evening Standard's James Olley:
James Olley @JamesOlley
Wenger on Elneny deal: "Its complicated a little bit. We work hard on it and I hope in the next two or three days we get to the end of it."1/8/2016, 9:17:41 AM
Arsenal have won the FA Cup in both of the last two seasons, and Wenger is eager to make it three in a row, but he is aware that his players are under extra pressure as a result, per the Mirror's Hamish Mackay:
Of course [there is extra pressure]. Being the holders, we want to stay in the competition and do it again if possible.
I don’t see why the FA Cup should be ostracised because of the Premier League. We want to go for the competition and go for it 100 per cent.
The Gunners are topping the Premier League and, with the 66-year-old surely close to retirement, a triumphant domestic double could be on the cards this season.
Ahead of the clash with the Black Cats, Wenger revealed that he did not initially plan to stay at Arsenal for as long as he has—he took over in 1996—and he is eager to leave the club in a strong position, per Mackay:
"I just want to make sure the guy who comes after me has a good squad in a strong financial position with a good team. I didn’t plan to stay here for 20 years."
He has seen numerous managers come and go and said that he is interested in the prospect of Pep Guardiola joining the Premier League, following the Spaniard's recent revelation that he wants to coach in England next season, per Arsenal's Twitter feed:
Arsenal FC @Arsenal
Wenger on Guardiola: "It is interesting to have the best players and managers in the @premierleague." Watch it LIVE: https://t.co/fh4FyeG5tv1/8/2016, 9:18:27 AM
Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce has admitted that he will field a weakened side against Arsenal because of the "stupid" upcoming midweek matches in the Premier League, per the Evening Standard's James Benge.
However, Wenger is not expecting an easy game at the Emirates, per Arsenal:
Arsenal FC @Arsenal
Boss on #AFCvSFC: "I won't expect any weaknesses. His team will be focused no matter what." Watch it LIVE: https://t.co/fh4FyeG5tv1/8/2016, 9:20:17 AM
The Frenchman himself is likely to rest some players for Saturday's clash as the Gunners face Liverpool away in the Premier League on Jan. 13.
ESPN FC's Ben Dinnery relayed Wenger's update on his squad's fitness ahead of the FA Cup clash:
Ben Dinnery @BenDinnery
Wenger confirms "Mikel Arteta is available. Alexis Sanchez is a bit short. Tomas Rosicky is not far off." #AFC1/8/2016, 9:18:03 AM
Danny Welbeck, Francis Coquelin, Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla remain sidelined with long-term injuries, and a spate of recent fitness concerns has seen Arsenal linked with numerous players in the January transfer window, including Watford's Troy Deeney, per the Independent's James Orr.
Arsenal have proved in the past two seasons that they are experts in the FA Cup, but they face a challenge to even get past the third round this year, having been drawn against top-flight opponents.
The hosts have to be considered favourites for Saturday's clash, though, and with Wenger insisting that they will go out to win the competition again, there is unlikely to be any drop in intensity from the Gunners.