Arsenal must make possession count against teams like Chelsea, says Gunners midfielder
- Credit: EMPICS Sport
Jack Wilshere concedes Arsenal must learn how to press home their advantage if they are to compete with the top teams this season.
The Gunners looked in control during the opening quarter of the game against Premier League front-runners Chelsea on Sunday, but ended up empty-handed after conceding goals to Eden Hazard and Diego Costa.
And, although the Gunners’ performance represented a significant improvement on their dismal record against top-four sides last season, Wilshere admits they need to be more clinical.
“Last year in the big games, after 20 minutes, the game was almost over – we were either one or two down and, when you come to places like this, it’s always tough,” said the England international.
“This year we really focused on keeping it tight and I think we did that, but you can’t really plan for a bit of magic from Eden Hazard and suddenly you’re 1-0 down.
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“We’d kept it tight up to then, we defended well and created a few half-chances ourselves. We feel we’re getting better as a defensive unit.
“But at this level, especially against the top three in the league, when you’re on top you need to take those opportunities. If you don’t you’re going to get punished.
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“That’s the difference – when you get on top you have to really make it count. You didn’t really see Cesc or Diego Costa all game, then suddenly there’s a 50-yard ball and a great finish.”
For all their positive passing moves, Wilshere and his team-mates failed to force a genuine save from either Thibault Courtois or his replacement in the Chelsea goal, Petr Cech.
The 22-year-old had one of the Gunners’ better opportunities soon after Hazard’s opener, when Alexis Sanchez put him in the clear, but he was let down by his control and Cech managed to gather the loose ball.
However, Wilshere says he is still getting back to his best form after last season’s injury setbacks, when an ankle problem meant he missed most of the build-up to the World Cup.
“I’m always looking to improve,” added Wilshere, who is in the England squad for this week’s European Championship qualifying games against San Marino and Estonia.
“For a person of my age I’ve missed a lot of football, so I’m just trying to train and play as much as I can.
“I’ve always said, since I came back from injury, it takes between five and 10 games. Some players are different, but some need a run of games and I’m one of those players.”
Arsenal’s defeat at Stamford Bridge, their first Premier League reverse of the season, left them eighth in the table and trailing the leaders by nine points.
But Gunners goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny believes his team-mates are capable of closing that gap when they return to league action after the international break.
“We’ve had a tough run and I’d like to think our run has been solid, not as good as we expected from ourselves but I believe after the international break we can push on and get more points,” said Szczesny.
“You can’t say we played badly – it’s just we’ve come up against a very strong side who are probably the favourites to win the championship at this point.
“I thought they were very good – they took their chances and came up with two brilliant moments.
“Sometimes you’ve just got to take your hat off to the brilliance of the opposition.”
Arsenal’s next Premier League game is on Saturday October 18, when Hull City are the visitors to Emirates Stadium (kick-off 3pm).