Belfast Telegraph

Wilshere glad to be back as shot-shy Gunners progress

Arsenal 0-0 Red Star

By Jim Van Wijk

Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere said he is enjoying his football after last night's goalless draw with Red Star Belgrade in the Europa League.

The 0-0 stalemate in north London means Arsene Wenger's team have made sure of qualification from Group H with two games to spare.

Wilshere played the full 90 minutes and said: "I feel good. I'm trying to get in the team, which is difficult here because there are good players, but I'm doing well in training and trying to impress when I get the chance.

"I'm happy where I am. There's a little bit more to come from me, but I'm happy here. It's good to be back in an Arsenal shirt."

On the match, the 25-year-old continued: "That was the plan before we started... to do it (qualify) as soon as possible. We've qualified and now we want to do it properly and win the group.

"If you can't win the game, don't lose it. We're not delighted with the point, but we'll take it.

"It was different from the away game. We were better in the second half - not as good as we have been in recent performances - but we didn't lose."

The Gunners travel to leaders Manchester City in the Premier League on Sunday and Wilshere added: "We'll have to be better when we go to City, they're a good team.

"But we'll be ready for it and go there full of confidence and hopefully get something out of the game."

With Wenger continuing his policy of completely rotating his Premier League side for this competition, the Gunners were toothless as the visitors wasted the best chances of a forgettable contest.

Wilshere, who failed to prove a point to England manager Gareth Southgate following his omission from the latest Three Lions squad, came closest to winning it for the hosts only to see a second-half effort superbly cleared off the line by Damien Le Tallec.

Wenger's changed outfit, featuring the likes of Wilshere, Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott, had won their three Group H games leading into this tie.

A point against the Serbia SuperLiga side proved to be enough to assure them of a place in next month's draw as Cologne beat BATE Borisov in the other game.

While neighbours Tottenham and rivals Manchester City were beating some of Europe's elite in the Champions League just 24 hours earlier, this had none of the glamour, attraction or skill of those noteworthy wins.

But, as Everton lost at Lyon to be knocked out of the competition, this was enough to secure safe passage for Wenger's side into the round of 32 where it remains to be seen if his big-name players will be utilised.

The final whistle was greeted by some jeers - and plenty of relief - by the home fans as the Red Star bench celebrated a point which keeps alive their own hopes of progressing.

Belfast Telegraph


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