Arsenal vs Crystal Palace: Arsene Wenger leaps to defence of Jack Wilshere after midfielder is criticised by pundits

The midfielder was lacking sharpness due to illness, said Wenger

A new season is a time of hope, but it does not take long for doubts to intrude. They muscled their way in at Crystal Palace even before the opening day when Tony Pulis walked out. Saturday’s last-minute defeat at the Emirates intensified concerns. Palace were organised and spirited but the unresolved limitations in the playing staff, which appear to have prompted their erstwhile manager’s exit, were clear.

The furrowed brows were not restricted to the losers’ dressing room. Arsenal were delighted to snatch a late win but one of their players may have suffered dark thoughts.

Jack Wilshere was once England’s and Arsenal’s great hope. He has since been overtaken at club level by Aaron Ramsey and with his country by Ross Barkley. Paul Scholes criticised him last season for not “training on” and Jamie Carragher and Jamie Redknapp joined in the criticism on Sky after Saturday’s match. Ramsey, said Redknapp, was doing what Wilshere should be doing, seizing games by the scruff of the neck and winning them. Both men felt that, if everyone was fit, there would be no place for Wilshere in Arsenal’s starting XI. Which, with Barkley potentially out until Christmas, is not good news for Roy Hodgson.

Read more: Match report - Arsenal 2 Crystal Palace 1
Szczesny frustrated by goal
Video: Cazorla gets coated in vanishing spray

Wilshere, after an ineffectual hour, was withdrawn on Saturday long before Arsenal won the match. This was, said Arsène Wenger, because the midfielder was short of sharpness due to illness last week. “He was sick in the last few days and I felt he started to miss his competitiveness,” said the manager. Wenger added that the criticism of Wilshere was “not fair”.

The 22-year-old has had a series of injuries in the last two years and Wenger said: “Let’s give him games, he has to build up slowly. The most important thing to him is not to have any problems with his ankle but it looks like he’s on the right way on that front. He looks sharper every week.”

 

Wilshere will need to maintain that improvement as Mesut Özil and Lukas Podolski will soon be back in contention after an extended break following Germany’s World Cup success. They will join a pool of midfielders that besides Wilshere and Ramsey includes Mikael Arteta, the new captain, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Santi Cazorla, Tomas Rosicky and Mathieu Flamini. With Alexis Sanchez playing an advanced role, that leaves nine players (plus Theo Walcott when fit) competing for four places.

Crystal Palace celebrate Brede Hangeland's goal on his debut to put the Eagles into the lead Crystal Palace celebrate Brede Hangeland's goal on his debut to put the Eagles into the lead  

Palace’s next manager can only dream of choosing from such quality. Steve Parish, the co-chairman, denied a dispute over transfer policy drove Pulis to quit but did concede “there were a lack of targets the manager felt were good enough”.

Parish said he hoped to make an appointment this week but all but dismissed caretaker boss Keith Millen’s application, made to the media after the match, when he told Match of the Day he wanted someone with “intimate experience” of the Premier League. Malky Mackay, sacked by Cardiff City last season, remains favourite.

One of the players Pulis and Parish did manage to bring in, Brede Hangeland, put Palace ahead before Laurent Koscielny and Ramsey gave Arsenal the victory.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee