Arsene Wenger feels Jack Wilshere is more of a provider than finisher, but has backed the Englishman to develop that side of his game after scoring his first Premier League goal since November 2010 on Sunday.
The Gunners midfielder started on the wing against West Bromwhich Albion and endured a tough first half, struggling to impose himself on the game. However he came out a different player in the second, orchestrating plenty of chances and was rewarded with the equalizing goal after a well dispatched volley took a deflection to send it past Baggies ‘keeper Boaz Myhill.
Wilshere has been under the spotlight recently for his performances and has played out of position for the Gunners as their winger injury crisis continues. He came under even more scrutiny after pictures were revealed of him smoking during a night out in mid-week, but Wenger feels his prodigy midfielder has responded brilliantly on the pitch today.
The Arsenal boss talked to the media after his side’s 1-1 draw against WBA:
[on Wilshere scoring his first league goal since November 2010] At least that is done now but he had a difficult first half where he was fouled a lot but he has shown that he has character and kept going until the end. It’s good that he was rewarded.
[On his performance] He was pushed over a lot. I don’t think there was any dirty fouls on him but he was pushed a lot and didn’t get the fouls. I think in the second half he gave some great balls to score where we had chances. Overall he he had a very good second half.
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[on speaking to Wilshere before the game] No, he is an honest guy and when he is wrong he knows it. I think today the players don’t get away with anything. We got away with it a bit more but they know that’s the rules of the modern game. They have to deal with it and I think he learns very quickly. What is more interesting for him and for Arsenal is that he shows the right response on the pitch.
[on Wilshere’s honesty about his goalscoring form] I don’t think he will ever be a goalscorer but he is a player who can create chances for others. In our job it’s quite simple, you need players who score and players who give the ball to those who score. He is more in the second category than the first. But of course from the second category you want a few goals so it’s good that he knows he can score goals. Let’s not forget that we had the same problem with Ramsey a while ago and suddenly once they start to score it comes naturally.
Wilshere was perhaps lucky to not have been withdrawn before his goal due to Aaron Ramsey’s knock (Wenger confirmed the Welshman is OK), but warranted his place with an inspiring second half showing. He played a sumptuous lobbed through ball to Giroud who should have won the match and threatened whenever he was on the ball not to the mention netting Arsenal’s only goal.
With midfield places very precious in Wenger’s stacked squad, Wilshere has to exercise consistency and bring his overall game back to its original level if he wants to return to the heart of the midfield.
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