Arsene Wenger praises Jack Wilshere's 'outstanding' contribution as Arsenal beat BATE
Arsene Wenger praised Jack Wilshere's "outstanding" contribution to Arsenal's 4-2 Europa League victory at BATE Borisov.
On the same day the midfielder was omitted from the latest England squad - at a time when they are short of options in his favoured position - he consistently demonstrated the vision and creativity that once made him such a promising talent.
Aged 25 he is attempting to recover a place in Wenger's starting XI and earn an extension to the contract that expires at the season's end, but having recovered his fitness, at the Borisov Arena in Belarus he proved he still has much to offer.
Santi Cazorla's long-term Achilles injury has left Arsenal short of composure in central midfield. Wilshere - recalled alongside Theo Walcott, Per Mertesacker and Olivier Giroud as Wenger made nine changes in preparation for Sunday's fixture at home to Brighton - possesses that quality and showed it playing throughout the final third.
His passing repeatedly stretched BATE, whose defeat was secured by two finishes from Walcott, another from Rob Holding and Giroud's penalty, which was his 100th goal for the club, and Wenger said: "He had an outstanding first half.
"He fights until the end. He's on his way back to his best and showed that. He's at an age where a player normally gets to the best of his career. He's on the way up. He's only been stopped by a series of injuries.
"Hopefully, I just pray, he is not hampered by any more problems and that will see him getting stronger and stronger. He's shown again that he's not lost his football.
"We had a team that was a mixture of experienced players and young players and we had good cohesion and played football like I want them to play, with a good pace.
"We maintained it for 65 minutes and then the last 20 minutes were a bit more difficult. Overall I'm very pleased with our performance.
"BATE is a good team, has good cohesion, good technical level, works well together, and we needed a good performance to beat them."
Giroud's 49th-minute penalty restored Arsenal's three-goal lead to put them 4-1 up, but when Mikhail Gordeychuk scored the hosts' second in the 67th, Arsenal fell under increasing pressure.
David Ospina impressed in making several fine saves as he deputised for Petr Cech, and ensured Giroud's "remarkable achievement" was complemented with a victory that left them top of Group H with the maximum six points from their opening two games.
He also had little influence beyond his goal, but of him joining Thierry Henry, Ian Wright, Cliff Bastin and others in scoring 100 goals for the club, Wenger said: "I just congratulated him for his remarkable achievement.
"He is in good company, when you look at the number of goals he's scored.
"It's a remarkable achievement. I congratulated him for that remarkable achievement."