Belfast Telegraph

Wenger: Wilshere answered critics

Arsene Wenger insists Jack Wilshere silenced his critics by inspiring Arsenal's fightback against Manchester City.

Former England and Manchester United star Paul Scholes has been the most outspoken in questioning why Wilshere's development has stalled since making his debut in 2008.

The 22-year-old issued the perfect response against the Barclays Premier League champions, reacting to Sergio Aguero's opener by lobbing Joe Hart before teeing up a sublime volley for Alexis Sanchez.

Martin Demichelis' late header salvaged a 2-2 draw for City, but it was the dynamic Wilshere who really caught the eye.

"The best place to answer critics is on the pitch," said Wenger, who was forced to defend the unimpressive Mesut Ozil once again.

"That's what Jack did, but I don't believe we can explain his good performance through the criticism of Paul Scholes.

"But you have to respond to critics when you're in a public job. You have accept criticism, go on the pitch and show you have the talent.

"The most important thing is to go show how good you are.

"Jack finished with his right foot and chipped a goalkeeper who knows him well. I'm very happy with that way he finished.

"He looked dangerous in the first half as well because he has found his pace again. I'm very happy."

Debate has raged over Wilshere's best position with Scholes highlighting the uncertainty before Saturday's Emirates Stadium showdown in his role as analyser for BT Sport.

But Scholes was greeted by an irrepressible display that argued a watertight case for being involved in the advanced role favoured by Wilshere and Wenger.

England coach Roy Hodgson has used him more defensively, but Wenger believes his strengths demand a different approach.

"Jack was always a boy who was at his most dangerous in the final third. That's why I prefer him to play higher up the pitch," Wenger said.

"One of his qualities is penetrating in the final third, but I'm not against him being defensive. He can do both because he is a good footballer.

"For a long time he didn't kick the ball well because of his ankle injury.

"The big difference now is that he stays on the feet, whereas before for a while when he was not as confident to push on his ankle he would go down.

"Now he has that solid aspect to the game he had before he was injured."

Wilshere took the diplomatic line by stating he is happy in either midfield role, but his words also made his preference clear.

"Naturally I want to go forward more. In Arsenal's formation it's nice to play forward and in the England one it's different. I'm happy to play either way," Wilshere said.

It was Wilshere's first goal since January and the Arsenal academy product admits he needs to be more prolific.

"I want to score more goals and my goalscoring record hasn't been good enough," Wilshere added.

"In the formation we play I should be scoring more goals. We play with one holding and two going forward and I'm the one who gets forward.

"I've had a few chances already this season and I should be scoring more. Hopefully that will be one of many."

Wilshere highlighted the new found spirit that ensured Arsenal would not fold after slipping a goal behind and City captain Vincent Kompany was impressed by what he saw.

"They have definitely made progress. They are a better side. They have more quality all over the pitch," Kompany said.

"Obviously they played well but they didn't have too many clear-cut chances.

"They didn't need too many to score twice, which is the sign of a strong team."

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