Arsene Wenger was quick to temper expectations surrounding Jack Wilshere following the midfielder’s impressive performance in last night’s win over Doncaster Rovers in the Carabao Cup.
Wilshere made his first start for the Gunners in 493 days but he certainly didn’t look like an outcast, fitting in perfectly alongside Alexis Sanchez and co. as Arsenal secured a 1-0 win.
But the 25-year-old’s career has been curtailed by injuries and so it’s perhaps not surprising that Wenger wants to see how he responds before handing him a starting role.
“I wanted to leave him on to give him 90 minutes and overall I think it was an ideal game for him to gain confidence and fitness,” Wenger said after the win, per the Evening Standard.
“We’ll see after that how he responds. Normally he’s alright after the game.”
Wenger was also quick to remind fans that a third round EFL Cup contest against League One opposition doesn’t match the intensity of a Premier League contest.
“I think you have to put this game into perspective as well, it does not exactly have the intensity of a Premier League game,” he added. “But it’s important for him to build him up gradually.”
Wilshere ruined Doncaster's free-kick
Still, it was pleasing to see Wilshere pulling the strings at the Emirates Stadium once again.
But it wasn’t just his creativity going forwards that caught the eye but his attentiveness in defence.
Wilshere lined up in the wall when Doncaster won a free-kick in a dangerous position in the second half.
The League One club attempted a fancy routine involving four players and wasted a few seconds in lining the ball up to get a shot away.
In that time, Wilshere broke from the wall and produced a perfect sliding tackle to completely ruin Doncaster’s routine.
Check it out below.
Wilshere was alert to what was happening and saw through Doncaster’s set piece.
Wenger isn't sure when Wilshere will next play
Wilshere’s talent is obvious but it’s also his work rate and passion that have so endeared him to the Gunners faithful, who would love nothing more than to see him healthy and performing well.
It’s unclear yet, though, when he will next be in action for the club, with Wenger undecided on the players who will play in next week’s hectic schedule.
“We play next week three games – Monday, Thursday, Sunday – before the international break so I will have to make decisions to balance the team, to see who I play and where,” the Arsenal boss continued.
“For me now he’s available to play, the decision I have to make is when to play him.”
Sooner rather than later is the view of most Arsenal supporters.