Jack Wilshere 'really ready' to play at Arsenal - Arsene Wenger
LONDON -- Arsene Wenger says Jack Wilshere proved he's "really ready" for a bigger role after pulling the strings in Arsenal's 6-0 Europa League win over BATE Borisov on Thursday.
The Gunners ran riot in front of a half-empty Emirates Stadium, with Wilshere, Mathieu Debuchy and Mohamed Elneny all scoring their first goals of the season to hand Wenger his 700th win as Arsenal manager.
Arsenal had already clinched top spot in Group H, but Wilshere was among several senior players to stake a claim for more playing time in the Premier League.
"Jack's moving forward, and you could see tonight that he's really ready now to play," Wenger said of the midfielder, who has yet to start a league game this season. "He's sharp, he's quick, he's incisive again with his dribble, and technically he was very good tonight. I would say for 70 minutes in the game he was dominant in midfield on the creative side. And that's very good news for us."
Wilshere played in a central No. 10 role as Wenger started with a back-four formation for the first time all season, and made it 3-0 with a well-placed strike shortly before half-time.
Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud also scored for the Gunners against a BATE side that offered little resistance.
"It was done in a stylish way, and a technically high-quality game from our side," Wenger said. "You could say, yes the opponent was not exactly the level of the Premier League, I would agree with you, but you can only do your job, and that's what we did in a convincing way, in a remarkable spirit."
With nothing at stake for Arsenal, only about 30,000 fans showed up for the game -- although the club still announced ticket sales of 54,648.
Wenger, though, said the low attendance was only natural and that it didn't have an effect on the players.
"You forget about that once you're on the pitch. It's true that you prefer the ground to be full, but tonight there was not a lot at stake on the competitive side. And no matter how many sit in the stand, you have to give them what they expect. And that's what the players did," the Arsenal boss said.
"You respect the decision of your fans [to stay home]. They knew we were top of the group anyway, and you could basically expect that. You have looked around last night in the Champions League in game No. 6, I've seen many grounds that were not full, or half empty. That's a bit the problem of the group stage."
Mattias is ESPN FC's Arsenal correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @MattiasKaren.