Wenger defends Arsenal star after draw with West BromJack Wilshere applauds the fans after the 1-1 draw at West Brom. Photo: Nick Potts/PA Wire
Monday, October 7, 2013Jack Wilshere proved there was no smoke without firepower as his goal earned Arsenal the point that took them top of the Premier League.
But he responded to the subsequent debate by claiming his first league strike in almost three years -albeit via a healthy Jonas Olsson deflection - to secure a 1-1 draw against West Brom, who had taken the lead through Claudio Yacob.
A share of the spoils took Arsenal level with Liverpool on 16 points going into the international break and ahead on goals scored.
Manager Arsene Wenger had been forced to answer a number of questions about Wilshere’s apparent smoking before the match and was happy to reflect on a more positive day for the England international.
“Today the players do not get away with anything - we got away with a bit more - but they know the rules of the game and the rules of modern society and they have to deal with it,” he said in reference the negative headlines involving Wilshere.
“He is an honest lad and when he’s wrong he knows it. But what is more interesting for England and for Arsenal is that he shows the right response on the pitch.
“He had a difficult first half where he was fouled a lot but showed he has character and kept going.
“He has character as well. He doesn’t give up, he continues to play his game.”
Wilshere, who last netted in league action against Aston Villa on November 27 2010 - previously his only league goal - has spoken recently about his desire to improve his scoring ratio but there is no pressure from Wenger on that front.
“I don’t think he will ever be a goalscorer,” said the Frenchman.
“He’s a player who can create chances and provide for others. In our job it is quite simple: you need players who score and players who give the ball to those who score.
“Jack is more in the second category than the first. But from the second category you want a few goals as well so it is good that he knows he can score.”
West Brom’s former Arsenal striker Nicolas Anelka had two fine opportunities to put the home side 2-0 ahead prior to Wilshere’s leveller, but his side were left to cling on in the last 20 minutes.
Manager Steve Clarke was more than happy with the result, particularly following his side’s surprise win at Manchester United last weekend.
“I’m pleased with the players for another good game against another top team,” said the Scot.
“On the back of what we did at Old Trafford four points from these two games is a good return for us.
“But it’s not just the fact we’re getting results against top teams it’s that we’re in the game. We look a good team.
“It was a good game between two good teams. I thought we more than deserved the point.”