Wilshere gives Arsenal fallback for Fabregas - Premier League - Football - The Independent

Wilshere gives Arsenal fallback for Fabregas

Arsenal 1 Milan 1

Marouane Chamakh scored on his home debut for Arsenal in the Emirates Cup yesterday and took home the man-of-the-match award after a promising performance against one of Europe's powerhouses. But arguably the most eye-catching performance came from Jack Wilshere, the club's leading home-grown prospect.

While both of Arsenal's summer signings did well, Laurent Koscielny looking composed alongside Thomas Vermaelen in defence after a reported £10 million move from Lorient, it was Wilshere who caught the eye. The 18-year-old local, who was voted man of the match in both matches in this tournament a year ago and spent half of last season on loan to Bolton, confirmed his growing reputation with a dynamic performance in a deep midfield role.

"Bolton wanted to take him again, but I think I will keep him," Arsène Wenger, the Arsenal manager, said. "He can play on the flank and in the middle, behind the striker and deeper as well, so he should get a few games."

He did not look overmatched against a Milan team who were without Massimo Ambrosini, Filippo Inzaghi, Andrea Pirlo and Ronaldinho, but still included enough quality to test Arsenal's own depleted squad, which was missing Alex Song, Abou Diaby and Denilson as well as Cesc Fabregas and Robin van Persie, who are on post-World Cup leave.

Emmanuel Eboué and Koscielny had to make timely tackles when Alexandre Pato threatened to embarrass them with his pace, and Milan went closest when Mathieu Flamini, the former Arsenal midfield player who was booed throughout, saw a volley from 22 yards deflected by Koscielny on to the angle of post and crossbar.

Arsenal's best effort up to that point had been a glancing header by Vermaelen that demanded a fine save from Christian Abbiati, but after 36 minutes Andrey Arshavin held off Gennaro Gattuso and slipped the ball through for Chamakh, who had just stayed onside, to steer it past Abbiati.

Until then, the Morocco forward, a Bosman signing from Bordeaux, had looked slightly off the pace, but after the goal he developed a swagger and a clever flick after he had been sent through by Wilshere set up Arshavin for a shot that Abbiati palmed away.

The failure to score a second cost Arsenal the victory when Pato beat Vermaelen to nod home Clarence Seedorf's free-kick with 13 minutes to go, drawing Wenger's only criticism of Lukasz Fabianski, who will be replaced in goal for today's match against Celtic by Manuel Almunia: "I didn't feel anyone took charge of the organisation and that's a little bit down to the goalkeeper, but overall I thought he had a good game."

Gianluca Zambrotta almost won it when he cannoned a 20-yarder off the bar three minutes from time.

"It was a good test for the new players, the young players and the team," Wenger said. "It was a good first game for Chamakh, a good presence up front. He and Koscielny did very well. We wanted a forward who plays for the team and works hard and at the back somebody who is calm, can play out from the back and read the game well. Their attitude is good and they can only improve."

Massimiliano Allegri, the Milan coach, ruled out the possibility of David Beckham, who watched the match, returning to the club when he recovers from the ruptured Achilles tendon he suffered last season.

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