Jack Wilshere says he’s pleased Arsenal have qualified from their Europa League group with two games to spare but accepts the Gunners’ performance against Red Star Belgrade was below par.
The England international cut a frustrated figure all night as Arsene Wenger’s mix-and-match starting XI laboured to a drab 0-0 draw at the Emirates.
“It’s nice to go through, that was the plan before we started this group,” Wilshere told Arsenal.com after the game.
“We knew we had the quality to get out of it and we wanted to do it as soon as possible. Of course we wanted to win the game tonight, but as they say, if you can’t win it, don’t lose it, so we’re not delighted, but we will take it.
“We had to wake up in the second half, and I thought we got better. We weren’t as good as we have been in recent performances. I know we’ve qualified but we still want to do it properly and win the group.”
Wilshere had Arsenal’s best chance to score on the evening, however, despite beating Red Star keeper Borjan with a deft chip in the second half, his effort didn’t have enough on it to beat a defender on the line.
In retrospect, the 25-year-old might have left the shooting opportunity to teammate Ainsley Maitland-Niles who looked ready to put his foot through the ball.
“I thought that was in. Ainsley probably won’t be happy with me as I took it off him, but I thought I could score. On another day it could have gone in, but it was great defending.”
Having garnered headlines and plaudits for recent performances, there were growing calls for Wilshere to be selected by England. Alas, when Gareth Southgate announced his squad for the upcoming Interlull prior to this evening’s kick-off, the Arsenal man was not on the list.
Arsene Wenger, who backed Jack returning to the England fold, said after the game that he still thinks it could happen in time for the World Cup.
“He needs these kinds of games to come back to his best level and what Jack needs is to be injury free for a long period until the end of the season and get games like that,” said Wenger.
“Then I don’t believe he could have been involved [for England], he’s not, so maybe if he keeps fitness he will be next time.”