Belfast Telegraph

Jack Wilshere is lifted by Arsenal's fighting spirit

By Paul Hirst

Jack Wilshere thinks Arsenal will be brimming with confidence against Besiktas thanks to their comeback heroics at Everton. Arsenal looked destined for defeat at Goodison Park on Saturday after goals from Seamus Coleman and Steven Naismith.

The Gunners missed a host of chances in the second half, but dogged determination bore fruit as Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud scored in a dramatic final seven minutes to snatch a point.

On Wednesday, Arsenal host Besiktas in the second leg of their Champions League play-off.

With the tie currently standing at 0-0 after the first leg, Arsenal need a win to make the group stages for the 18th consecutive time, but Wilshere is not worried about the prospect of failure.

"This was a fantastic point and now we have a big game on Wednesday and this will give us great confidence going into that," said Wilshere.

"We have got great character, great togetherness and some leaders out there that keep us going.

"We also have great players to go with that.

"We never give up and at this level that is massive. We have always shown over the years that Arsenal are going to battle like mad right until the end."

All the pre-match talk had been about a possible venture into the transfer market for a defensive midfielder, but based on this match, Arsenal are more in need of a top-class striker.

Alexis Sanchez endured a torrid first half against centre-backs Sylvain Distin and Phil Jagielka. His replacement Giroud fared little better for most of the second half, wasting three chances to score before nodding in Nacho Monreal's cross in the 90th minute.

Arsene Wenger, who may be without Giroud for Wednesday's game, admits Arsenal's finishing was not good enough on Saturday.

"Normally when you score two away from home, you should win the game," the Arsenal boss said.

"We had plenty of chances."

Wenger must have privately been wishing Everton's number 10 was on his books. Romelu Lukaku had an outstanding game, muscling Per Mertesacker off the ball all match.

The big Belgian gave the German the slip to set up Naismith on a stunning counter which saw the hosts go 2-0 up at the break.

Naismith, who also scored on the opening day draw at Leicester, says it is a pleasure to play alongside a man he thinks can go on to become one of Europe's best.

"He is a good young guy with a massive amount of potential," the Scot told Press Association Sport.

"I have even noticed a difference from last season and that is only going to continue over the coming years so I am sure when he gets to his mid-20s, he will be one of Europe's best strikers."

Lukaku signed for Everton on a permanent basis after he scored 15 league goals on loan at the Merseyside club last year.

Naismith thinks the £28m signing will be out to show the Blues what they are missing next week when they come to Goodison Park.

"I am sure there will be things he wants to prove to Chelsea," Naismith said.

Belfast Telegraph


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