Tuesday 20 February 2018

Wenger refusing to pull Wilshere out of firing line

Paul Kelso

ArsEne Wenger will not rest Jack Wilshere in the near future as he relies on his brightest English talent to bring authority to Arsenal's midfield in a difficult season.

Wilshere only returned from injury last October after more than a year out, but with Arsenal struggling for momentum in the chase for a Champions League spot, Wenger says he has no intention of omitting the England midfielder.

With Mikel Arteta out with a calf strain which, while not as serious as first thought, will keep him out of a run of games – including tonight's FA Cup replay against Swansea and Sunday's trip to Stamford Bridge – Wilshere's importance to the side has grown. Despite receiving a rough ride in defeat to Manchester City, including the tackle that led to Vincent Kompany being sent off, Wenger is confident Wilshere is up to the rigours of regular football.

Asked if he would rest Wilshere, Wenger said: "Maybe not in this period, at some stage I will do it. At the moment I don't think he is overloaded because he just came back very recently, and you get the feeling he gets stronger."

Wenger also said he was confident that Wilshere had regained the change of pace that can make him a potent ball carrier: "I trust my eyes on that and I would say you have seen the game against Man City, you are confident that he can pass people. He has a low centre of gravity, he uses it well and gets in front of people. When you provoke people, sometimes you get hit."

Wenger said the Swansea game, which will be played in front of thousands of empty seats at the Emirates, offered a "pure" test of character for his side. (© Independent News Service)

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