Jack Wilshere silenced his critics with a goal-scoring performance against Manchester City on Saturday, according to Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger.
Former England midfielder Paul Scholes in particular has been vocal in questioning why Wilshere has not developed into a world-class player since bursting onto the scene in 2008.
Working as a pundit for BT Sport during Arsenal’s 2-2 draw with Manchester City, Scholes labelled Wilshere “confused” and claimed he was a “frustrated figure … trying to force the play.”
Wilshere prefers attacking role
- Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere has admitted he prefers to be deployed as an attacking midfielder rather than the defensive-minded role he’s been handed by England manager Roy Hodgson for the Euro 2016 qualifiers.
Hodgson has singled out Wilshere for a role at the base of his midfield, with his performance in the opening qualifier against Switzerland last week drawing criticism from some.
Yet Wilshere was back to his best as he scored and turned in a dynamic display in a more attacking midfield berth against Manchester City on Saturday and he said he is more at home in that kind of position.
“Naturally, I want to go forward more,” Wilshere told reporters. “You saw with England that sometimes I lost a bit of concentration when I do go forward, but in our formation it’s nice to play forward and in the England one it’s different.
“I’m happy to play either. In the formation we play, I should be scoring more goals. We play with one holding and two going forward and I’m one who gets forward. Hopefully that will be one of many.”
Wilshere however, issued the perfect response to Scholes’ criticism, chipping Joe Hart to draw Arsenal level after Sergio Aguero’s opener before setting up Alexis Sanchez to fire home on the volley.
“The best place to answer critics is on the pitch,” Wenger said, who side were denied three points by a late Martin Demichelis equaliser. “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’ criticism centring on the 22-year-old’s struggle to define himself on the pitch. Wenger used him in an advanced role on Saturday, but England manager Roy Hodgson has deployed him more defensively.
“Jack was always a boy who was at his most dangerous in the final third,” Wenger said. “That’s why I prefer him to play higher up the pitch.
“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.”