“Outstanding” Wilshere has Wenger “Delighted”
Jack Wilshere showcased his fantastic natural – and rare – ability to keep calm on the ball as he played the heartbeat of Arsenals centre of midfield when he came up against some of the best central midfielders in the World; Xavi, Iniesta and Sergio Busquettes. Those three Spanish midfielders were an integral part of the World Cup winning side of 2010, and as they came up against Arsenal’s midfield on Wednesday, they must have been very excited at the prospect of the 19 year-old Englishman.
Wenger had only good words to say about Wilshere after Arsenal’s first ever win over Barcelona, and quite correctly pointed out that Wilshere was not fazed by the occasion, despite the massive significance of the hard fought game:
“He was outstanding tonight. Jack (Wilshere) wasn’t fazed by the occasion. In the difficult periods when we were under pressure he took the ball and kept the ball. He played really well.”
Wilshere had a great time, relishing every opportunity to show off his talents, and admitted he has had the best couple of weeks in his life playing for Arsenal:
“It’s been a great couple of weeks – the best of my life. There was a spell in the first half where for about 20 minutes we (Arsenal) didn’t touch the ball. But we knew they were going to do that.”
The young midfielder praised the Spanish midfield, but despite the quality of the opponent emphasised the need for Arsenal to continue to play their way, and in the end, it paid off:
“I watched these [Barcelona] players in the World Cup and they were the best team there, so I knew a bit about them before the game. But once you get into a game, you get used to them,” Wilshere said.
“We had to go up a level in the second half and we passed it around better. We had to carry on playing the Arsenal way and we did that.”
The second leg at the Nou Camp will be an altogether different proposition, and a far harder one, as the Gunners learned last year when they felt the full force of Lionel Messi’s magic as he scored all of the goals for Barca in a convincing 4 – 1 defeat of Arsenal. March 8th will determine how far Arsenal have come since last year. They gave a good account of themselves in a breathtaking comeback at the Emirates, and were drawing 2 – 2 this time last year, so an improvement is clear, but Barca need only one goal with no reply from Arsenal to progress on away goals.
Wenger however, is still revelling in the success of Wednesday night, and he highlighted the psychological belief that his team now have going into the secnd leg. The players now know that Barca are beatable, and they can go into the second leg, remembering this, and using it to their advantage:
“I am highly delighted. It was a special football night. The game promised a lot and fulfilled that promise. It was two exceptional teams who tried always to be positive.
“We are not favourites now, but what is important is the belief that we have a chance. Barcelona are still favourites. We know now that we can beat them, though. We did not know that last year.
“This gives us a chance to to go to Barcelona with belief. Every game is difficult but we will prepare well and be highly focused.
“We took advantage through one special skill from Robin van Persie and a second goal through a build-up of how we like it.”
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