Jack Wilshere has welcomed Arsenal's rise back into the Champions League places but has admitted that, in the long term, he and his team-mates will not be satisfied merely with regular top-four finishes.
The England midfielder returned from an ankle complaint in Saturday's 3-1 victory over Norwich City, a win that hoisted Arsène Wenger's side into third place, having not featured since the defeat at Tottenham Hotspur in the first week in March. The manager has conceded the 21-year-old has been "rushed" back and is "not entirely ready" but Arsenal's continuing tussle with Chelsea, Tottenham and Tuesday's visitors, Everton, has necessitated his return.
The player himself is eager to make up for lost time after an untimely six-week absence, the ankle injury having prompted concern given he had returned from a 17-month spell on the sidelines with problems in his other ankle only in November. His return saw Arsenal leapfrog Spurs and Chelsea. "It's great, especially considering the position we were in before," he said. "We've shown a lot of character. But while it's good to look at now, we want to be better than that. We don't want to be happy with third in the league.
"We've got great players and want to be challenging for first and second. We're happy with third when you look at this season but really we want to be higher. We want to be challenging for everything every year, we don't want just to be saying that we got into the Champions League. We want to be winning trophies and having that experience as a team. There's nothing better than winning, especially when you've been around a team that's been working hard to win something for so long. To be rewarded at the end of it would be great."
Everton will test Arsenal's recent league revival, which has seen Wenger's side – who will be boosted by the return of Per Mertesacker and Tomas Rosicky, though Lukasz Fabianski has suffered bruised ribs and Wojciech Szczesny may step in – win seven of their past eight league games. "We need to win, we know that, and we'll do whatever it takes to achieve it," added Wilshere. "This is big, a really important game, and if we win then we're in a good position. But even then we're definitely not over the line, we've got some tough games coming up: Fulham away will be tough, and then Manchester United, and we obviously don't want them winning the league at Emirates stadium, so we'll be up for that.
"Personally, it's good to be back. [The latest injury] was frustrating because I was flying just before I got injured in March. I felt good, confident, and then picked up another injury. Things then drag a little and you lose your sharpness. But this time it wasn't anything like as long as the one before, so hopefully this time I can get it back more quickly. I needed that game on Saturday – you always need your first one out of the way. I wasn't great, I know it myself, I'm better than that, but you need just to get that first game in so that your sharpness and understanding come back."
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