Wilshere admits it's 'nice' to go with his attacking instinct
Arsenal 2 Man City 2
Jack Wilshere has been given his homework, he has studied the videos of Andrea Pirlo and Javier Mascherano, but the reality of life at Arsenal is that practical opportunities to hone the holding midfield role he was trialled in for England will be almost non-existent.
Arsene Wenger wants to release, rather than restrict, his attacking qualities and after scoring one and creating another against Manchester City, Wilshere is making no attempt to hide an instinct that is more in tune with his club manager than Roy Hodgson.
"Naturally, I want to go forward more," Wilshere said. "I've said in the past I want to score more goals and my goalscoring record hasn't been good enough. We play with one holding and two going forward and I'm the one who gets forward. You saw with England that sometimes I lost a bit of concentration when I do go forward. But in our formation, it's nice to play forward and in the England one it's different."
Wilshere did add that he was "happy to play either", but watching his all-round performance here was to be reminded of his strongest suits when he is fully match-fit. They are not to sit diligently in front of a defence and quickly recycle possession, but rather to drive his team forward, to dribble, to hold opponents off with his upper-body strength and punch holes in opposition defences with slick passing moves.
"It can help him to do both as he has a good football brain, but it suits him naturally to win the ball and dribble in front of the defence," Wenger said. "His ankle is now clean again. He has found power back. He stays on his feet. He is penetrative and that is why I prefer him to be playing up there."
Wilshere underlined this in an exquisitely-finished equaliser, when providing a headed assist for Alexis Sanchez's volleyed second and then by creating an excellent chance from which Aaron Ramsey might have put Arsenal into an unassailable lead. As it was, City, who had earlier led with a counter-attacking goal from Sergio Aguero, earned a deserved draw when Martin Demichelis took advantage of non-existent marking with his headed equaliser. "Unbelievable," Wenger said.
Familiar defensive flaws will be further tested for at least two months when Arsenal will be without right-back Mathieu Debuchy, who suffered ligament damage in spraining his ankle.
Manuel Pellegrini also used the word "unbelievable" in his post-match press conference, but that was in reference to how he felt his team had been denied clear fouls in the build-up to both Arsenal goals as well as a penalty for a Wilshere handball.
"It is too many things that are difficult," Pellegrini said, in explaining why he already though it would be a huge task for City to retain the Premier League title. "Strong teams and referees, at this moment, are not helping."
What also did not help was the absence of Yaya Toure from midfield, particularly with Frank Lampard struggling to influence a match that was played at such a high pace before being substituted at half-time.
Even with Mesut Ozil back in his team following the World Cup, Wenger had continued with a 4-1-4-1 formation that meant again only using the German on the left and starting three natural central midfielders in Wilshere, Ramsey and Mathieu Flamini. Ozil seemed to offer a shadow of Sanchez's work-rate, but Wenger advised any restless supporters to re-watch recent matches before drawing definitive conclusions.
"People will always have this kind of attitude about him," Wenger said. "He worked hard and he played quite well. You always see a good Ozil when you watch the game again. Then you realise his timing, his quality of the pass."
Arsenal and City are now bound for Germany, with respective fixtures this week against Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich. Pellegrini has complained at how the Uefa seeding has again given City a more difficult Champions League group than Arsenal, but believes his team are now better equipped to make an impression.
"I think this team has a greater personality to try to win everywhere," Pellegrini said. "We showed that against Arsenal and, if we continue that way [against Munich], I think it will be a very close game." (© Daily Telegraph, London)
Who is your sportstar of the year?
Vote in the Irish Independent Sport Star Awards and you could win the ultimate sports prize.
Prizes include, tickets to Ireland's against Scotland in the Six Nations, All Ireland football and hurling final tickets and much more.