Arsenal latest: Per's response to big f****** German chants, Wilshere…

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Considering the mercurial rise of Jack Wilshere from a free-scoring attacker in the Arsenal youth teams, to the most revered young English talent available for Three Lions duty, to accomplished senior footballer, it is perhaps forgivable to assume Wilshere is older than he is.

'I think [people forget my age]. Not just because I've been around for a long time, but people hear I've got two kids and it's not often you hear about a 21-year-old with two kids,' said the footballer, to the club's official website.

Wilshere has shown great form this season, but he has also produced anonymous football. However, he has alluded to an exemption from criticism as he is still effectively at an embryonic stage of his footballing career.

'I've been in the first team since I was 16 so that's five years and that's quite a long time in football terms. I play week in, week out against 31 and 32-year-olds so I think you just have to take [the criticism].'

Wilshere's national team-mate with England, Joe Hart, has won the backing of the Gunner's club-mate Wojtech Szczesny: 'I rate Hart as one of the best, if not the best, goalkeepers in the world,' he is quoted to have said by Sky Sports.

Szczesny is perhaps more knowledgeable on the emotions that Hart will be feeling, as the Arsenal shot-stopper was frozen out of the first team last season, only to produce a number of clean sheets in the current campaign.

'Forget the last couple of weeks, where it has been very difficult for him and he has been dropped. Everybody has got to go through that. When you're out of the team, you have time to sort things out. It is very important to relax and maybe have a bit of time away from the pressure, getting the right mindset.

'It seems to be working for me, and I definitely hope that Joe will do the same. If he comes back stronger, it is scary to think how good he is going to be.'

And finally, Per Mertesacker's name is often heard being bellowed out by the Ashburton Grove faithful and the chants have not fallen on deaf ears as the BFG has embraced the song.

image: © Ronnie Macdonald

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