Search

Wilshere feels Arsenal have learned secret of success

11:05 06 January 2014

Jack Wilshere, Arsenal

Jack Wilshere, Arsenal

PA Archive/Press Association Images

It has long been classified as the mark of champions – the unerring ability to keep assembling results without always reaching the highest level of performance.

Manchester United, in particular, turned it into an art form under Sir Alex Ferguson right up until his retirement last season, when they rarely caught the eye as an outstanding side but still lifted the Premier League title.

If anything, Arsenal have come to represent the flip side of the coin in recent years, frequently producing breathtaking passing moves on the field but rarely translating that into the relentless accumulation of points.

Yet Arsene Wenger’s side have begun to show themselves more adept at grinding out results this season, most notably in the Champions League at Borussia Dortmund, but also in domestic games.

Midfielder Jack Wilshere feels that a more gritty element to the Gunners has emerged since the tail-end of the previous campaign, when a late run of victories ensured that they overhauled Tottenham for fourth place.

“Something clicked towards the end of last season,” Wilshere reflected. “We knew we had to get fourth, we had to get results and we went out and got them.

“We were still winning games where we weren’t playing well, and we’ve carried that on this season. I think that’s vital, because you’re not going to play your best every game.

“If you look at the Cardiff game [on New Year’s Day], we weren’t at our best in the first half. Even in the second half, it looked like it wasn’t coming, but we kept trying to the end and that was a massive win for us.

“If we keep doing that we’ll be up there. There have been a few games like that this season and we’ve seen teams like Man United and Chelsea do it in the past. Now we’ve started to do it as well.

“We’ve got great character in this squad – we’re genuine friends who get on off the pitch. There’s a mix of cultures, but we all get on and I think that’s helping us.”

Over the years, many title hopefuls have ultimately seen their challenges derailed by a punishing schedule – often as a result of successful cup runs that contribute to a fixture backlog.

However, with the Champions League not resuming until mid-February, Arsenal should be able to enjoy something of a breather over the coming weeks.

Unless they fail to overcome Coventry City at the first attempt in the FA Cup fourth round, the Gunners face just one midweek fixture – away to Southampton on January 28 – during the next month.

And Wilshere is confident that there is enough strength in depth to cope, even if Arsenal find themselves caught up in a more intense schedule during the run-in.

“Over the last few years we’ve struggled with that, but this year we’ve got a good squad and we can rotate in midfield, which is what we’ve been doing,” said the England international.

“We’ve been playing every three days for most of the season, with the Champions League and the Christmas period, which is always busy. Now we’ve got one game a week, which is going to help us.

“We’ve won a few games in a row now, we’re sitting in a good place in the league and we’re into the next round of the FA Cup. It’s important we get our rest in and we’ll go again next time.”

That FA Cup fourth round spot was secured courtesy of the Gunners’ 2-0 victory in Saturday’s north London derby against Tottenham – the second time they had beaten their neighbours this season.

Of course, the pair have yet to meet a third time, when Arsenal travel to White Hart Lane in March, and Wilshere added: “We always seem to come out on top against them at the Emirates.

“It’s a London derby, pride’s at stake and we did well. But you know it’ll be a difficult game when we go there in the league.”

Latest Hampstead & Highgate Sports News

Tottenham head coach Mauricio Pochettino

Mauricio Pochettino says he felt compelled to confirm his commitment to Tottenham to prove to the club’s current stars and prospective signings that he will be staying at White Hart Lane.

Saturday, April 30, 2016
Arsenal's Gabriel Paulista celebrates Danny Welbeck's winner against Norwich

Arsenal 1 Norwich City 0

Tottenham head coach Mauricio Pochettino

Mauricio Pochettino hopes to emulate Sir Alex Ferguson’s reign at Manchester United and create his own legacy at Tottenham after announcing he has agreed a two-year contract extension.

Dele Alli (right) appeared to punch West Bromwich Albion's Claudio Yacob during Monday's 1-1 draw at White Hart Lane and has been banned for three games

Dele Alli will continue to take part in training until the end of the season, even though he cannot play for Tottenham, to maintain his fitness ahead of this summer’s Euro 2016 Championship.

Tottenham head coach Mauricio Pochettino

Mauricio Pochettino has announced he has verbally agreed a two-year contract extension at Tottenham, extending his stay at White Hart Lane until 2021.

Thursday, April 28, 2016
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe  (back row, centre) visited Haringey Police Boxing Club on Tottenham High Road. Pic: Dieter Perry

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe visited Haringey Police Boxing Club to meet a contingent of fighters who are hoping to compete in the Haringey Box Cup in June.

Thursday, April 28, 2016
Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla of Arsenal (Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

Although they spurned the chance to win the league title, Arsenal Under-21s still have a chance to reach the top tier of second-string football via the play-offs.

Thursday, April 28, 2016
James Harris in action for Middlesex

Middlesex seamer James Harris feels squad rotation is essential if the club are to successfully negotiate a punishing schedule during the coming weeks.

Newsletter Sign Up

Most read Hampstead & Highgate sport

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Property Newsletter Sign-up

Get the latest North London property news and features straight to your inbox with our regular newsletter

I am also happy to receive other emails...
Fields marked with a * are mandatory
Email Marketing by e-shot

Competitions

Kindle 7 inch tablet

Are you looking for a brand new gadget to help you stay connected on the go and make that long journey home a bit more entertaining? Look no further. MyOffers is giving you the chance to win 1 of 50 Kindle Fire 7” Display Tablets! That’s 50 times more chances to win, so hurry up and enter our competition today and you could be one of our lucky winners!

Yummy traditional afternoon teas for two

MyOffers is giving you the chance to win 1 of 50 Traditional Afternoon Teas for two at a location of your choice! That’s 50 times more chances to win, so hurry up and enter our competition today and you could be one of our lucky winners!

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today

Subscribe