Arsene Wenger says Jack Wilshere and Granit Xhaka are working hard to improve their defensive and tactical relationship and played down suggestions that two left-footed players in midfield is unbalancing his Arsenal side.
In the absence of the injured Aaron Ramsey, Wilshere has impressed playing alongside Xhaka in the last six Premier League games. However, while the duo has avoided defeat in those outings, the Gunners have looked exposed at the back, conceding eight goals.
It’s a situation that the boss says the players can resolve as they get used to each other’s style of play.
“They work very well together,” Wenger told Arsenal.com ahead of the Carabao Cup semi-final with Chelsea, “especially with the ball, where they have a good understanding.
“The fluidity of their game is very good and the partnership grows defensively. That’s a very important part because we are a very offensive team.
“Defensively we need to be very sound and that’s as well why I play with three centre backs, because in midfield we are quite offensive. But they are tactically intelligent, aware and they want to sort out the problems defensively and tactically. I think that will improve.
“They sort out problems on the pitch by getting used to each other. On the football pitch you know quickly what the strengths of your partner are – where he goes, what he will do when he closes down. You adapt to that. The fact that they play together every week will help as well.”
He added: “I like to have a balanced team with left-footed and right-footed players, but it doesn’t give us a problem that Granit and Jack are both left-footed.
“Jack played many times on the right side when he was a kid, so he is comfortable to play on the right. You develop your vision from the early position in your life, so the right and the left is natural for him.”
Wilshere is expected to return to Arsenal’s starting line-up for the trip to Stamford Bridge this evening. Whether Xhaka joins him, remains to be seen. The Swiss underwent a fitness test yesterday and remains a doubt.