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Arsene Wenger insists he will do Southampton boss Claude Puel no favours in EFL Cup

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger

The Arsenal boss managed the Southampton manager whilst the pair were at Monaco 30 years ago.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has told the Daily Mail that old friend and current Southampton manager Claude Puel will receive no favours from him on Wednesday night, as the Gunners prepare to face the Saints at the Emirates Stadium in the EFL Cup quarter-finals.

Wenger and Puel developed a close relationship when the Arsenal boss managed the 55-year-old at Monaco over 30 years ago, and the pair have remained in contact over the years, with the vastly-experienced Wenger generously giving his fellow Frenchman numerous pearls of wisdom during the opening stages of his managerial career.

Puel has since gone on to forge a bright coaching career, with the former Nice manager replacing ex-Southampton manager Ronald Koeman in the Saints hot-seat over the summer and earning many plaudits for his impressive work at St.Mary's to date.

Although they remain close friends and there is a clear mutual respect between the pair, Arsenal boss Wenger insists that, with a place in the semi-finals of the EFL Cup and a potential stab at silverware on the line, there will be no room for sentimentality between them when he faces off against Puel at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday night. 

"I spoke with him (Puel) before he joined Southampton," Wenger told the Daily Mail. 

"After he signed, we became competitors and it's different. But before he signed, I gave him my impression of the Southampton team and the quality of their players.

"I always felt that they've had a very strong side of very good quality. You see the likes of Jose Fonte and Cedric are European champions now with Portugal, so Southampton have done extremely well with their scouting.

"We talk, of course, but not before the game. When I was at Monaco he was one of my players.

"I followed his career and was always ready to talk when he needed me, but he's now older than 50, has experience in this job and I think he has done very well at Southampton so far.

"I'm not at all surprised that Puel and Southampton are doing well. He did a good job at Nice over the last four years."

Although he is likely to hand several fringe players an opportunity to impress against Southampton, Wenger will still field a strong starting XI on Wednesday night, as he vies to bring the first major silverware of the season back to North London.

Defender Mathieu Debuchy will miss the game after hobbling off in the early stages of Sunday's 3-1 win over Burnley, while in-form striker Olivier Giroud is also set to miss out due to a groin problem.

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