Former Arsenal academy player Jack Wilshere, celebrating his birthday on New Year’s Day, had reason to be happy both on and off the pitch against Cardiff.
The midfielder was at the heart of everything good about Arsenal’s late 2-0 win over Cardiff City at the Emirates stadium.
On his 22nd birthday, the Gunner drove Arsenal forward and kept up the aggression as home team went in search of an unlikely late winner.
Cardiff City had frustrated Arsenal throughout, and with Arsenal spurning many opportunities, a draw looked likely until Nicklas Bendtner’s late right footed winner, which was shortly followed by Wilshere teeing up Theo Walcott to clip home.
Wilshere was an attacking presence throughout, completing 7 successful dribbles, making five key passes and taking three shots of which one came back off the post.
The England international capped off his impressive performance by laying off fellow England international Theo Walcott with a perfectly timed through ball.
Wilshere was also comfortable in crowded areas, picking up the ball just behind the forwards and his movement between the Cardiff City defensive lines was equally impressive. In possession, he made 64 passes in total with 83% of those finding their intended target.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger had urged Wilshere and his fellow midfielders to up the tempo in the second half, but admitted that the goal was a bit of a relief
'We wanted to play high up in the second half and speed up our tempo and we did it quite well.
'It looked like the goal was coming, but sometimes it doesn't. But we had the resilience and Nicklas got us great relief.
'We have a good togetherness and if you don't have that then you have no chance'.
With Arsenal going through an apparent injury crisis, especially in the attacking areas and with Aaron Ramsey out for at least the next fortnight, Arsene Wenger will be counting on the likes of Jack Wilshere to maintain his current performances so that Arsenal can remain at the top of the Premier League table.