Arsene Wenger has his old Jack Wilshere back much sooner than expected

England midfielder hugely impressive in victory over West Brom

For someone carrying the huge expectations of club and country on his shoulders, Jack Wilshere is walking remarkably tall. During a depressingly long period while missing the whole of last season and then the first two months of this one, he was walking only with a limp, but the past few games have demonstrated exactly what Arsenal and England have missed.

An outstanding performance in Arsenal's 2-0 home win over West Bromwich Albion on Saturday offered further encouragement that 2013 could be a breakthrough year for a player who begins it by celebrating his 21st birthday on 1 January; breakthrough in the sense of becoming an indispensable international footballer.

Arsenal, only too aware of the setbacks Wilshere suffered during that cruel year out, will continue to make sure he is not overplayed, the decision to leave him at home while they went to Greece last midweek for a dead Champions' League game having been vindicated by the freshness of Saturday's display.

"I have still to be cautious," the manager Arsène Wenger said. "For example today is the first time I see him very, very close to the player he is. We have to see if he has no reaction.

"It was good to leave him at home in midweek. To give him a breather from time to time – maybe two, three games and then one breather. But when he plays at that level, and you are under the pressure we are under to win the games, it is difficult to leave him out."

There's the rub. Tenth place before the game may have been a false reflection of Arsenal's performances – and unquestionably of their ability – but they need to take advantage of a run of winnable games to make up further ground before dates with Manchester City and Chelsea after Christmas.

Wenger, however, has always been conscious of the pit falls in developing young players. "I played him when he was 16 because I saw something. I'm just happy that a boy of 20 years old can play football because he was out for 17 months."

"Got your old Jack back?" he was asked, responding: "Yes... our young old Jack. Not at his maximum yet but not far away on what he has done today. The surprising thing for me is that he is in advance. I expected him to be back at his best next year in February. He's an enthusiastic player – he goes for the challenges the day before a game. I don't hold him back because I think it is good to have that attitude. When the best players have that attitude, you have always a chance."

Albion, meanwhile, were more concerned with three crucial decisions that went against them. The Football Association will consider today whether to charge the manager Steve Clarke for his comments about the referee Mike Jones.

Clarke had said following the game: "I don't want to have a witch hunt on referees but we got one of the poorest of the group of Premier League referees today."

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
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory