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Jack Wilshere Can Add Goals To His Midfield Guile, Says Arsène Wenger

Arsène Wenger says Jack Wilshere has exceeded expectations this season after recovering from injury and hopes his young midfielder can inspire Arsenal to victory in Sunday afternoon's north London derby, describing his young midfielder as a natural leader.

Wilshere has been a shining light for Wenger despite Arsenal's campaign hanging by a thread. Trailing Tottenham by four points going in to Sunday match at White Hart Lane and on the brink of Champions League elimination, defeat at Spurs would be another hammer blow.

However, Wenger is optimistic that all is not lost and says that Wilshere's displays this season have proved that he is one of the finest midfielders in England, after coming back from an ankle injury that ruled him out of all of last season.

"What he has exceeded is the speed of his physical fitness in the game, I honestly never expected that," says Wenger, who believes Wilshere will soon add goals to his game. "I believe it is always part of his development to play more advanced, because you can always come deeper. In some games he is more comfortable deeper. He is a bit in the situation that [Cesc] Fábregas was for a while, he said: 'But I cannot score goals,' but you could see that it will come. Who doesn't want to score goals? I haven't met an offensive player that does not want to score goals. He's more a team player and a team worker, he'll never be a real goalscorer I think. But he can score and he will be capable to score."

Asked if Wilshere was a leader, Wenger added: "That is natural for him. He doesn't talk too much but he understands everything. You tend to forget how old he is when you see him play. You never come out of a game and think this guy is 21 years old. At that stage maybe others have not started.

"You think that he is already an established player in the Premier League and at international level. He's something special. Who will deny that he gets 100 caps for England? Nobody if he gets no injuries."

Wilshere will start Sunday afternoon's derby but Arsenal will be without their first-choice right-back, Bacary Sagna, and Abou Diaby is a doubt.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by James Riach, for The Observer on Saturday 2nd March 2013 22.30 Europe/London

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image: © Ronnie Macdonald

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