In Focus: Jack Wilshere

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The Arsenal midfielder produced one of his best displays in an England shirt against Estonia as Roy Hodgson's men made it nine points out of nine in Euro 2016 qualifying

After impressing against San Marino on Thursday, Jack Wilshere put in another strong display for England against Estonia as the Three Lions maintained their unbeaten start to Euro 2016 qualifying.

Employed again at the base of Roy Hodgson's midfield diamond the Arsenal man was arguably the pick of the bunch, displaying his full range of passing as the visitors secured a 1-0 win to stay top of Group E.


The Arsenal midfielder again played as a deeper-lying midfielder in Tallin, but was afforded the freedom to roam, with Fabian Delph and Jordan Henderson combining well to drop back and cover his forward ventures.

A gorgeous dinked ball to Wayne Rooney in the 15th minute should have resulted in a fine opening goal, but the Manchester United striker could only volley over the bar from close range.

Wilshere was not to be deterred and his forward bursts were a feature of the first half with the Gunner looking as though he is rediscovering his rhythm and form after finally shrugging off the injuries that have dogged him for so long.

The 22-year-old also carved out one of the best chances of the first half, driving into the area with a powerful run before poking a shot just wide of goal, with the Estonia defence on the back foot.

His influence waned somewhat after the break, against limited opponents who were happy to sit back, particularly after being  reduced to 10-men after Ragnar Klavan picked up a second yellow card.

However, another sumptuous ball to release Rooney in stoppage time should have made the game safe, yet the striker's weak finish again did not trouble goalkeeper Sergei Pareiko.

Wilshere worked hard throughout the game, on and off the ball, winning possession and remained largely disciplined but for a late yellow card picked up for a cynical tug on Ilja Antonov. 

Wilshere has been improving as the season has developed and his importance to the Gunners has also grown, not least because of the injuries to key midfielders Aaron Ramsey and Mikel Arteta.

The England international enjoyed a full pre-season and has been a virtual ever present for the Gunners as well as starting all three England games.

A powerful display against Manchester City saw Wilshere score the opening goal, with a lovely dinked finish and produce a strong showing against the Premier League champions who needed a late goal to salvage a point.

Speaking after the game manager Arsene Wenger admitted Wilshere was finally starting to find some consistent form but an ankle injury picked up in the Champions League defeat in Dortmund had Arsenal concerned yet again.

Fortunately for the Gunners, the injury was not serious and did not force Wilshere onto the sidelines for any significant time and he returned in the 3-0 win over Aston Villa.

The midfielder then started against Chelsea and looked almost back to his beat, despite being on the losing side, his surging runs causing problems as the Gunners improved markedly on last season's 6-0 thrashing at the hands of the Blues.

Arsenal's current injury crisis means they are without key men Ramsey, Arteta and Ozil and will therefore be increasingly relying on Wilshere to provide the Gunners' inspiration and ammunition.

A mixed start to the season means Wenger's men will return to action after the international break in eighth place, some nine points behind leaders Chelsea and having won just one of their last six Premier League games.

The fixture list looks kind to the Gunners with games against Hull, Swansea, Burnley and Swansea to come and the chance to pick up points and move up the table and Wilshere will undoubtedly play a crucial role.

The midfielder has revealed he has been watching videos of Andrea Pirlo and Xabi Alonso in recent weeks and there are certainly signs he is beginning to mature and fulfil his very evident potential.

Of course fitness plays a huge part and every time the midfielder stays down after a challenge there is real concern, particularly with his, and indeed Arsenal's, recent injury record.

However, recent evidence suggests that Wilshere is finally enjoying his football again and such promising displays can only bring confidence and optimism about his future.