By Chris Harris
Arsène Wenger believes that Jack Wilshere's presence can help make up for Cesc Fabregas' absence at Shakhtar Donetsk.
Arsenal fly out to Ukraine on Tuesday without their captain, who is protecting his hamstring after feeling some discomfort during the win over West Ham on Saturday. But Wilshere will be in the travelling party for the Group H clash after serving a three-match domestic ban.
The 18-year-old scored in the 5-1 win over Shakhtar last month and is fresh from signing a new long-term contract with Arsenal. Wenger expects him to help fill the creative void left by Fabregas.
"When Fabregas is not there you have to share a little bit the decisive passing, the building up of the game between Nasri, Wilshere or Rosicky for example, so that is the task we have," said Wenger.
"We have many creative players who can create good passes and that’s what I count on. Wilshere is not scared to take the ball so he will have a part of it to do."
The England international has been deployed in a deep-lying midfield role this season, the perfect platform for his probing passing game. Wenger has yet to decide whether to play him further forward on Wednesday night.
"It depends what I do," said the manager. "If I play with two more defensive midfield players behind him he can play that role but if I use Jack deeper and for example Nasri or Rosicky in front of them he remains in the same position.
"I am very much surprised [by Wilshere's development]," added Wenger. "I didn’t expect that to happen so quickly. You have to be open-minded in our job and most of the time when it happens like that you are happy."Copyright 2017 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source