Arsenal have a tougher edge this season, claims Gunners star
22:39 14 September 2014
PA Wire/Press Association Images
Jack Wilshere feels Arsenal have developed a more resilient streak this season after they recovered a first-half deficit to draw with Manchester City.
The Gunners, who remain unbeaten in the Premier League, came from behind on Saturday to achieve a result for the third time in their opening four games.
And Wilshere, who scored Arsenal’s first goal and provided the assist for Alexis Sanchez to net their second, says the squad have made a conscious effort to complement their ball skills with a little extra steel this season.
“We wanted to work on that this season – not letting our heads go down,” said the England international. “We had it last season but this year we’ve forced it a bit more.
“We’re not accepting it when we lose the ball – we’re not just letting the other team play. Those first five seconds are so important, we want to win the ball back and win it in a dangerous position.
“It was a bit like the Everton game at half-time – we said ‘keep going, keep going and if we get one we’ll get another’.
“In the second half we got the ball high in their half and put them under pressure and that’s where the first goal came from. Once we get behind the midfield with runners, teams can’t live with it.
“Towards the end of last season, when it looked like we weren’t going to get in the top four, we did sit down and say ‘this is not good enough’. But from the last seven or eight games of last season up to now we’ve had a fantastic attitude.
“Everyone in training is buying into the defensive side of the game. We want to improve that by winning the ball back higher up and, once we do that, our quality will show.
“At 2-1 up we should have won it – we should have been a bit smarter at the back but at the same time we showed great character to come from a goal down against the champions.”
Wilshere’s classy 63rd-minute goal, which cancelled out Sergio Aguero’s opener for the league champions, was his first strike in an Arsenal shirt since their 2-1 win at Aston Villa in January.
And the 22-year-old – who featured in a defensive midfield role for England last week but returned to a more attacking position against City – has reiterated his intention to increase his scoring rate.
“Our formation is different to the England one and I’m happy to play either,” added Wilshere, whose overall scoring tally for the Gunners reads 11 goals in 138 appearances.
“I’ve said in the past that my scoring record wasn’t good enough and I want to score more goals.
“The way we play – with one holding and two going forward – I should be scoring more goals. Hopefully that’ll be [the first] one of many.”
Arsenal looked the better side in the opening quarter of the game, when they created a handful of chances – the stand-out one falling to debutant striker Danny Welbeck.
The £16m signing from Manchester United took advantage of a sloppy pass from City midfielder Fernandinho but, although he beat Joe Hart, the post came to the visitors’ rescue.
There were few further opportunities for Welbeck to open his Arsenal account, but Wilshere was impressed by the contribution of his England colleague.
“I thought he was brilliant with his work-rate,” said the midfielder. “He works the centre-back, never lets them play it out easily, and when he was on the ball he showed quality.
“Unfortunately he didn’t score – he had a great little chance which was unlucky but there’s definitely a bit more to come from him.”