The youngest player on the pitch was the star man in Arsenal’s 3-0 win over Rangers on Sunday, as 17-year-old Jack Wilshere scored two goals to lead the Gunners in recapturing the Emirates Cup trophy in the club’s annual preseason tournament.
Named “Man of the Match” for the second day in a row, Wilshere put Arsenal 1-0 up inside of two minutes with a 12-yard strike set up from some fine interplay between Cesc Fabregas and Andrey Arshavin, as the home side looked in fine form from the start.
Wilshere, Arshavin and Fabregas were all second-half substitutes in Saturday’s 2-1 win over Atletico Madrid yet had places in Sunday’s starting lineup, which saw nine changes from the previous day as only William Gallas and Emmanuel Eboue kept their places in the starting eleven.
Looking dangerous in attack early on, Arsenal doubled its lead just after the ten-minute mark. More fine buildup play saw Arshavin nod the ball into space for Fran Merida to pick out Eduardo on the edge of the box. The Croatian cooly stroked one in off the post for a two-goal advantage.
While Rangers recovered a bit afterwards and had some chances on goal, Arsenal were in their comfort zone and could have extended the lead later in the half with Merida, Eduardo and Wilshere all denied.
Arsene Wenger only made two changes to the squad at the break, bringing on Armand Traore and Denilson to replace Gallas and Gael Clichy. Rangers’ changes included the addition of Nacho Novo, who was involved in one of his team’s better chances early in the second when his cross was directed by Steven Naismith towards Manuel Almunia’s far post where Alex Song had to make a lunging block from the onrushing Steven Davis.
Wilshere then worked his magic in the next minute but his curler went just wide. Soon fellow teenagers Sanchez Watt and Aaron Ramsey joined Wilshere on the pitch and helped set up his second and Arsenal’s third goal of the day as he directed a volley into the top corner in the 72nd minute.
Describing Wilshere’s continued growth as a player (after the match), Wenger said, “He always had his football ability but he has gained some power now. A year ago he had to go across the pitch and now he can go straight. At that age that is normal and you can see that he is comfortable on the ball, he can take people on. You have seen that on both days.”
When asked if the 17-year-old would appear more regularly on the pitch with the first team in the coming season, the manager cautioned: “Let’s not make stars in just two games. You have to respect the development of the players.
“I don’t know how much he will play. I speeded him up, I put him at 16 years of age in the dressing room and gave him a chance to practice everyday with the first-team players,” continued Wenger in an interview appearing on http://www.arsenal.com. “If I had taken him out of the youth team now you would not have seen what you have seen today.
“That means he has benefited a lot from special treatment and an acceleration of his education because he plays for one year with the first team,” admitted the Frenchman. “But how many games? I don’t know. The only problem in England is knowing the impatience of the people is that it will be difficult to keep the right pace in his progress.”