Jack Wilshere pictured smoking: 'He's an honest guy - when he is wrong, he knows it', says Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger

Midfielder scored crucial equaliser in Gunners' 1-1 draw at West Brom

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The Independent Football

Arsène Wenger praised Jack Wilshere as “an honest guy” who had responded to a difficult week in which he was pictured smoking outside a nightclub to score a crucial equaliser yesterday for Arsenal against West Bromwich Albion.

Wilshere struck in the 63rd minute to protect an unbeaten run for Arsenal that now stretches to 11 games. Asked whether he was sure that Wilshere had stopped smoking, Wenger replied “I don’t know”  although the Arsenal manager did so with a smile that suggested otherwise. The goal was Wilshere’s first in the Premier League since November 2010.

Wenger said: “At least the goal is done now. He had a difficult first half where he was fouled a lot. But showed he has character and kept going. I’m happy he was rewarded. He was pushed over a lot. I don’t think he was fouled dirty but pushed over. He didn’t get the fouls. In the second half he put in some great balls and had a very good second half.

“He’s an honest guy. When he’s wrong he knows it. I think today the players don’t get away with anything. We got away with more. They know the rules of the game and modern  society and have to deal with it. He’s learned very quickly. What is more interesting for England and Arsenal is that he shows the right result on the pitch.

“I don’t think he will ever be a goalscorer. He is a player who can create chances and provide chances for other. In our job you have two kind of players, those who can score goals and those who get the ball to those who can score. He [Wilshere] comes into the second category.

“He knows he can score. We had some problems with [Aaron] Ramsey a while ago [scoring goals]. Suddenly when they start to score it comes easily.”

Wenger said that he appreciated the “mental comfort” of going into the international break at the top of the Premier League. “The mentality of champions is something that builds up through a season. I believe what is important is that we continue to focus on the way we want to play. Have a desire and a spirit. After that, for title, it’s a bit early. It’s only October. You need to show it in March, April.”

Wilshere said that he struggled being played out of position on the left side of the attacking three behind Olivier Giroud. He said: “It was a tough game, coming here is never easy. We are happy with the point. It was a tough game for me. I am not used to playing on the wing, I’m still learning it, but I’m happy to do it for the team. I got a goal which was nice, I’ve always said I want to score more goals.

“At the end of the day when it comes to the weekend you’ve got to do your job and we’ve done it well.”

The West Brom manager, Steve Clarke, praised his team, who beat Manchester United at Old Trafford last week. “I’m not sure my feelings are disappointment [at the result]. I’m pleased for the players. It’s another good game against another top team and four points from United and Arsenal is good for us. We are not just getting results but competing in the games and are looking a top team.”