Arsenal boss praises young England duo Jack Wilshere and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger believes Jack Wilshere
is getting near his best after he starred in the Gunners' 2-0 win over West Brom on Saturday.
Two penalties from Spanish midfielder Mikel Arteta settled the game, but the England youngster, who was featuring in just his ninth club game since returning from a long-term injury lay-off, produced a majestic display at the heart of Arsenal’s midfield.
Wenger feels the 20-year-old is nearing the form that made him such a key player for both club and country before his spell on the sidelines.
He said: “He is getting closer to the player we know he is, and today I think he made a big step.
"You could see it already this week in training, that he has gained a little burst again, a little zip in the first three or four yards.
“That's what you have to accept in football, you have sometimes to be patient.
"He can only gain it by playing but of course in the first games you cannot be at that level.”
The Frenchman was also pleased with the contributions of fellow Three Lions youngster Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
He added: “I believe he is on the same trend as Jack. He is getting better, stronger, more mature, especially more determined today.
"There is much more man in his game than there was before. I am pleased with what I have seen from him today.”
Meanwhile at the Stadium of Light, England winger Adam Johnson
got on the scoresheet – but it proved to be nothing more than a consolation as Sunderland slipped to a 3-1 defeat against Chelsea.
A brace from Fernando Torres and a third from his Spanish team-mate Juan Mata put the Blues in control before Johnson bent a sublime effort beyond Petr Cech to reduce the arrears.
Meanwhile, Ryan Shawcross
was at his best as he helped Stoke City to record their eighth clean sheet of the season during a goalless draw against Aston Villa.
There was potentially worrying news for Southampton fans as influential captain Adam Lallana was taken off early with a knee injury during his side's 1-0 win against Reading.
Speaking about Lallana, Southampton boss Nigel Adkins said: “Adam has a knee injury. We will carry out a standard club procedure. He is in a knee brace and on crutches. We will let it settle down and then we will assess it.”
Adkins also described England U17 defender Luke Shaw
's performance as "outstanding".
In the Championship, Under-21s forward Nathan Delfouneso
netted in Blackpool's 2-2 draw at Crystal Palace. Young Lions team mate Tom Ince
provided the assist.
Ashley Cole, Steven Gerrard, Joe Hart, Glen Johnson and Danny Welbeck are all in the hunt for the England Player of the Year Award and it's up to you which star wins.
Place your vote here before the closing date of 13 January 2013. You can also vote for the England Men's Under-21s and Women's Senior Players of the Year, too.