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Wilshere will add goals to his game, says Wenger

Arsenal's Jack Wilshere. Picture: David Davies/PA Wire. Arsenal's Jack Wilshere. Picture: David Davies/PA Wire.

Sunday, March 3, 2013
8:10 AM

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes that Jack Wilshere will eventually operate higher up the pitch and become a 10 to 15 goal a season man.

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At 21 years old the midfielder has already established himself as an integral part in the engine rooms of both club and country.

In four seasons of senior football Wilshere has only netted six times but Wenger is convinced he can follow in the footsteps of former Gunners captain Cesc Fabregas.

In his first three full seasons from 2004 to 2007 the Spaniard struck just eight times in over 150 appearances. That all changed in the 2007/08 campaign when he fired 14 goals in 55 outings for club and country and is now seen as a goalscoring midfielder, something Wenger is confident Wilshere can emulate.

“I believe it’s part of his development to play a bit more advanced,” the Arsenal manager said.

“He likes to come deeper and in some games he’s more comfortable deeper, but I believe he has a little dribble that can get him through in the final third. The finishing will come.

“He’s in the same situation Fabregas was for a while. He said, ‘but I cannot score goals’.

“You could see it would come.

“He [Wilshere] doesn’t talk about it. Who doesn’t want to score goals? I’ve never met anybody, whose is an offensive player, that doesn’t want to score goals.

“He’s more a team player than a goalscorer. He’ll never be a real goalscorer I don’t think. He can score, he is capable.”

Wenger admitted that 10-15 goals would be a realistic target for Wilshere in the next few seasons and believes Arsenal’s style has already helped his midfield partner Santi Cazorla score more than he has in previous seasons.

Signed in the summer, the 28-year-old Spaniard’s biggest total was nine for the whole of last term at Malaga. His double in last weekend’s victory over Aston Villa saw him surpass that with 11 Premier League games still to play.

Wenger said: “Cazorla has always played on the flanks. Cazorla is now 28 and he was never in double figures in his whole life. He comes to us and he’s up to 11 already.

“That means, first of all, we play a very offensive game and, secondly, that at any age you can develop that.”

Tottenham’s Gareth Bale has hogged the limelight in the build-up to this afternoon’s north London derby at White Hart Lane but Wenger would not be drawn on comparing the Spurs ace with Wilshere, though he does believes his midfielder is an exceptional talent, mature beyond his years.

He said: “When you look at Wilshere, who will deny that this guy will get 100 caps for England? Nobody, if he has no injuries.

“My worry is not to compare Wilshere with anybody else, my only worry, when you are a football player of that talent is to become as good as you can become. That’s the only thing that is of any interest to me.”

Wenger admits even he is still surprised at the level of Wilshere’s performances this term after missing the whole of last season through injury.

“What he has exceeded is the speed of his physical fitness in the game,” he said, adding: “Honestly, I never expected that.

“You tend to forget how old he is when you see him play. You never come out of a game and think, ‘this guy is 21 years old’

“He’s at the stage where the others [of his age] have not started. You think about him already as an established player in the Premier League and at international level. That is still something special.”

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