December 7 2013 Latest news:
By James Cunliffe
Friday, October 4, 2013
Arsene Wenger sees Jack Wilshere’s future as a deep-lying midfielder but has admitted it is impossible to keep all of his Arsenal stars happy amid increasing competition for places.
The Gunners are in fine fettle and the stand on the verge of a club record that even his title-winning Invincibles couldn’t manage which will be nine straight away wins should they beat West Brom at The Hawthorns on Sunday.
Their sparkling form, which sees them sit atop the Premier League, after six games has been marked by some standout performers in the middle of the park.
Aaron Ramsey is in the form of his life with four goals in six league appearances (eight in all competitions), while the re-signing of Mathieu Flamini has given the north Londoners some steel in midfield.
And, of course, there has been the fast integration of record £42.5million signing Mesut Ozil, while in his pre-match press conference Wenger sung the praises of birthday boy Tomas Rosicky – 33 today – who is returning from injury, as is Santi Cazorla and, in time, Abou Diaby.
Mikel Arteta too made his first start of the campaign in Tuesday’s 2-0 Champions League win over Napoli and that saw Wilshere dropped to the bench.
And now, with a wealth of midfield talent at the manager’s disposal, one could question where the England international fits into the grand plan.
Wenger believes the 21-year-old’s best position is a holding role which would put him in direct competition with Arteta and the seemingly indispensible Flamini.
Asked if it was possible to keep them all happy, Wenger replied: “Honestly? No.
“But it’s part of our job, to make unpopular decisions.
“No matter what happens, you have 25 players and they well know that only the 11 players that start a game are happy. That’s part of our job to cope with that.”
He added: “We have seen the other night [in the Champions League]; Bayern [Munich] had [Mario] Gotze and [Javi] Martinez on the bench. People said, ‘look, Bayern only cost £92million and Manchester City £190million.’ But they [Munich] had over £100million on the bench.
“Part of big clubs today is that you have big players on the bench.”
On Wilshere’s position in the squad, Wenger said: “He is an important member of the squad but there is competition for places, of course.
“On one side, people want you to have good players, [but] on the other side, you cannot give any guarantees to anybody.”
The Gunners boss had to swat away questions about the youngster’s behaviour after he was pictured outside a nightclub in the early hours of Thursday morning with a cigarette.
The player’s representatives issued a statement that he had not taken a puff, while Wilshere posted a tweet on his personal Twitter account saying that he does not smoke.
But what is smouldering away is the question of Wilshere’s place in the Arsenal side. In the wake of his demotion to the bench in midweek he insisted that the competition brought by the summer arrivals of Ozil and Flamini will make him a better player.
Wenger then today hinted that the Englishman has not yet fully reached top form this term, or discovered his ideal role in the side.
“I believe [his best position is a] deep lying midfielder or wide,” the Frenchman said.
“Higher up, he’s less comfortable at the moment. He doesn’t like to have his back to goal. He likes to face the game.
“Why? Because he has a burst to pass people with the ball at his feet and from deep he does that very well.
“He creates the openings through that little burst and he’s a physically strong boy. He has a good body that’s very strong so he can win the challenges, make a difference and open the game up.”
But asked if he’s just slightly off the pace at the moment and missing that ability to make driving runs as he has done in the past, Wenger said: “He’s getting it back.
“To play on the flanks helps him to get that back, because on the flanks you have to do a lot of that.
“His performances recently, physically, are like that.
“If you ask every good footballer, ‘where do you want to play?’ he says, ‘in the centre’.
“Nobody says ‘I want to play wide’. I’ve never heard that.
“But on the other hand, I had [Samir] Nasri and [Gilberto] Silva – they’ve all played wide because it’s not like they’re forced to stay out there.
“Ramsey, the other night, played on the right side and he had an outstanding game because he’s not pinned there, he can move.”
Wilshere will hope to get the nod again on Sunday when Arsenal travel to the Hawthorns in what will be the Gunners last game before the international break.
Afterwards the midfielder will link up with England as the north Londoners’ only representative, with regulars Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain both out through injury.
Asked if the youngster be ready for England’s two crucial World Cup qualifiers against Montenegro and Poland, Wenger joked: “Even with one cigarette, he will be good.”