Jack Wilshere impresses as Arsenal claim Europa League win over Red Star Belgrade
By Nick Wright
Last Updated: 19/10/17 9:16pm
Jack Wilshere impressed again as Arsenal continued their winning start to their Europa League group campaign with a 1-0 victory over Red Star Belgrade.
The midfielder was heavily involved in the build-up to the decisive goal, combining with Theo Walcott to set up Olivier Giroud for a superb overhead kick five minutes from time.
Here, we take a look at three talking points from the game as Wilshere continues to push for a Premier League recall.
Arsene Wenger might regard the Europa League as something of a distraction but Wilshere is certainly enjoying it. The 25-year-old was deployed in an inside-left position behind Giroud, picking up where he left off during Arsenal's 4-2 win over BATE Borisov three weeks ago.
Wilshere could be seen winning the ball high up the pitch and directing Arsenal's younger players in the early exchanges, but it was his intelligence and urgency in possession which really caught the eye. Everything seemed to go through him, and it was no coincidence that Arsenal's quietest periods came when they were unable to get the ball to his feet.
Wilshere found more space to pull the strings in the second half and he was the catalyst for the goal, dropping a shoulder and darting between two Red Star defenders before playing a clever one-two with Walcott. It showed the kind of drive and creativity Arsenal's midfield has lacked at times this season. Wenger said Wilshere is "nearly back to his best" earlier this week. This was another step forwards.
Giroud on target
Giroud has had to be patient since Alexandre Lacazette's arrival at Arsenal but he marked only his fourth start of the season with a stylish winner. The Frenchman, who notched his 100th goal for the club in their last Europa League outing, took his tally to 101 with an acrobatic overhead kick just as it seemed Arsenal might have to settle for a point.
Giroud had cut a largely frustrated figure until then, sending a couple of efforts harmlessly over the bar as he struggled to make an impact, but his goal was a reminder of what he is capable of. The 31-year-old is becoming a regular scorer of spectacular goals and still has an important role to play in Wenger's side.
The intimidating atmosphere at the Rajko Mitic Stadium was a test of nerve for Arsenal's young players but not even Troy Deeney could accuse Reiss Nelson of lacking 'cojones' on the big stage. On his fourth senior appearance for his boyhood club, the 17-year-old enhanced his burgeoning reputation with another confident performance at right wing-back.
He showed his inexperience when he was caught out of position on a couple of occasions in the first half, but his marauding runs up the flank showed why he is so highly rated. Nelson attacked Red Star with speed and skill, with no player completing more dribbles (five), and he almost opened the scoring when his diagonal shot was pushed around the post after the break.
Nelson was the youngest player on the pitch but his self-belief was impressive. He had considerably more touches than anyone else (104) and there was even a moment in the second half when he pushed more senior team-mates away to take a free-kick 20 yards from goal. Nelson is yet to make his Premier League debut but on this evidence he might not have to wait long.
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