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Wenger: Don't ruin Wilshere with pressure

ESPN staff
January 16, 2013 « Dodson chasing pigs & squirrels to prepare for Johnson | Chartbeat test »
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Arsene Wenger has warned against placing too much pressure on Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere, despite agreeing with Thomas Vermaelen's assertion that the England international is already "world class".

Wilshere, 21, showed admirable defiance in Arsenal's 2-0 defeat to Manchester City on Sunday, and his performances have steadily improved since his return from long-term injury late last year.

Vermaelen has been so impressed with the swift re-adjustment that he effusively praised his team-mate on Tuesday. Wenger was equally emphatic, but cautioned against expecting too much of Wilshere ahead of Arsenal's FA Cup third round replay with Swansea.

"Of course I agree [with Vermaelen]. You want a player of such a young age to give him time as well," Wenger said. "I believe the most important thing is that he has talent and loves football. As long as he loves football, he will improve.

"So let's keep that kind of important ingredient in the development of a player right, and not make them feel that they have nothing to grow for. Jack is someone who wants to improve, he has a good attitude and if he keeps that he will always continue to grow.

"He is only 21, he has only [been] back for a short period of time after 17 months out, so I believe in England the way to protect the players is to just let them develop naturally and not put too much pressure on them.

"Here, the expectation level is so high individually on players that they are not in a normal development, sometimes there is so much focus on them that I feel it is a handicap.

"Let's not set any limitations [on how good he can be]. What is important is the day he will have made his career and thinks, 'I have been as good as I could have hoped to be'."

Wenger did admit that one of the keys to Wilshere's return to form has been the recovery of his "burst of speed" that marked him out before his injury.

"I trust my eyes on that and I would say you have seen the game against Man City, you are confident that he can pass people," Wenger said. "One month ago you could see he would have to fight with his body to get past people. Against Man City he looked comfortable to do that."

The Arsenal manager also said that he did not plan to rest Wilshere any time soon, despite the busy schedule in recent weeks. "Maybe not in this period, at some stage I will do it," he said. "At the moment I don't think he is overloaded because he just came back very recently, and you get the feeling he gets stronger.

"We have a good approach taking the physical analysis and statistical analysis between what the player feels and what the medical department thinks, and you have to come to a conclusion on that. At the moment, all these three are positives so I don't think at the moment I will rest him immediately. But it will happen."

Key battle: The right side of Swansea's defence took a battering in the 2-2 draw with Arsenal at the Liberty Stadium. Dwight Tiendalli and Angel Rangel will likely double up, but they will need to get tighter to Lukas Podolski than they managed last time.

Player to watch: Arsene Wenger claims Jack Wilshere has got his mojo back, which could be great news for club and country. But will others in the Arsenal team rise to his level?

Talking point: Laurent Koscielny, fast-improving defender or liability? Arsenal fans have been loyal to the centre-back, but the list of high profile errors continues to grow.

Bet of the day: Take Arsenal to win from behind in a rousing second-half comeback at 6/1 with bet 365.

Prediction: 2-1

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