There was mixed news for Arsenal and their teenage tyro Jack Wilshere yesterday.
The young midfielder was passed fit to play in today's north-London derby after recovering from the back strain which kept him out of England's midweek defeat to France. He also received a police caution for his part in a late-night street brawl in August.
The incident occurred in the early hours of Sunday morning in High Street Kensington after Arsenal's victory at Blackburn the previous day. At the time Wilshere's spokesman insisted he was merely “an important witness to the incident” who “played the role of peacemaker.” That was reiterated yesterday.
“During a night out with friends, Jack intervened as a peacemaker in an incident to protect a friend,” said the spokesman.
“The police have accepted that Jack's involvement was such that it could be dealt with by way of a caution. No further comment will be made as police investigations are ongoing and Jack may well be called as a witness.”
The caution, which Wilshere accepted after options including the prospect of facing charges in court were explained to him, suggests he was more involved than his club would have liked. However, given the seriousness of the incident — a woman suffered a broken arm and a man received facial injuries — it could have been worse. Last month, Duane Brailsford, 18, of Hitchin, Herts, was charged with affray and actual bodily harm in connection with the incident, Adam Mardell, 21, also of Hitchin, Herts, was charged with affray.
Arsenal and England will hope Wilshere has learned, from this brush with the law, that he has to be careful about how he spends his leisure time. He will seek to respond on the pitch as Arsenal look to extend their long unbeaten run in home derbies.
Arsenal can, for a few hours at least, go above Chelsea to top the Premier League should they once again beat their fierce rivals at home.
“It is a big motivation for us because we have created a momentum, and have won five of the last six,” said manager Arsene Wenger.
“We are the stage of the season now where we just want to go from game to game and get the points into our account, then see where we stand after.
“I always said since the first six games that it looks like the most consistent team will be rewarded.”
Robin van Persie chalked up a useful 45 minutes for Holland in midweek as he recovers from an ankle injury. When the Dutchman is fit Wenger will have plenty of firepower at his disposal.