Wenger: Wilshere at his best soon

  • Last Updated: September 22 2013, 8:13 BST

Manager Arsene Wenger has moved to reassure Arsenal fans it will not be long before Jack Wilshere is back to his dynamic best at the heart of the midfield.

Wilshere: On his way back to his best
Wilshere: On his way back to his best

The England international has seen his role for club and country scrutinised this season following some subdued displays, notably in the recent World Cup qualifier against Kiev in Ukraine.

Jack Wilshere

10. Jack Wilshere

Title Number
Appearances 33 (7)
Goals 5
Assists 5
Yellows 7
Reds 0
*Current Season

Following the £43million club-record signing of Mesut Ozil and injury to Santi Cazorla, Wilshere has found himself deployed on the left of Arsenal's midfield - with Wales' Aaron Ramsey relishing his central role, scoring a sixth goal in the 2-1 Champions League victory away to Marseille.

Ramsey's return to form follows a long injury lay-off, and Wilshere, 21, has also endured his own share of fitness issues which ruled the naturally combative midfielder out of contention for both England's 2012 European Championship finals campaign and representing Team GB at the London Olympics.

Wenger, though, is confident once Wilshere has some more game time under his belt, those all-action performances will soon return.

"There are similarities (to Ramsey) because it takes time to come back to your best physically," the Arsenal manager said.

"However, you could consider Jack was ahead of his age before he was injured, it is not the same. Aaron Ramsey had to make his way there.

"For Jack, I think it is more a fitness problem than anything else, but that will come back much quicker than the rest.

"Aaron had heavy metal in there (to pin his double leg break), and also the psychological impact of the injury, it took him a while to get back. When he was injured he was not there, he was still in a development phase."

Wenger continued: "Fitness wise Jack is between 80-90% of his potential.

"For the rest, he has not a lot to learn - he understands the game, can play anywhere, defensive midfield, central midfield. he is a complete player Jack."

Ozil has impressed on his two performances so far, helping to set up Olivier Giroud for the opening goal at Sunderland.

Wenger believes the German playmaker can help Arsenal unlock stubborn defences, with Stoke the visitors on Sunday afternoon.

"Before you could get the cross in and the guy could jump over everybody and head the ball in - today you have to find him through little pockets, maybe this is why this kind of player (Ozil) becomes more important because that creative aspect needed is higher," Wenger said.

"Ozil is a similar type to (Dennis) Bergkamp. He created a lot, but Dennis' evolution through his career was an adaptation to his physical qualities - when he could not score any more he became a great provider."

Per Mertesacker returned to the defence in France, having missed the Sunderland game through illness.

Apart from one sliced backpass which was hacked off the line, the 6ft 6in German was a commanding presence in what is becoming a tight Gunners rearguard.

Wenger believes Mertesacker has come a long way since signing from Werder Bremen in August 2011.

"He is becoming a recognised centre-back with being a leader in our team," the Arsenal manager said.

"It took a while, but honestly I think he has improved in his mobility, his technical ability, personality too.

"Mertesacker is not the player today that he was when he arrived here. He is one of the leaders of the team."

The solid partnership with Laurent Koscielny has meant club captain Thomas Vermaelen was not an automatic recall once fit again from his back problem.

Wenger, though, feels the Belgian will soon be in contention again.

He added: "The room will come back for him, they will not play all of the games.

"Tomas is nearly ready now, he will come back into the team, I am not worried about that. We have three recognised centre-backs, that is not many."


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