By Chris Harris
Arsène Wenger admits that Jack Wilshere is happier in a deeper midfield role - for the moment.
The England international has been a revelation in the Arsenal engine room this season, playing as one half of the 'two' in Wenger's 4-2-3-1 formation. But against Sunderland on Saturday he was shunted forward to fill the 'Fabregas role' just behind centre forward Nicklas Bendtner.
Wilshere struggled to impose himself on the game at first but was more influential once he'd reverted to his usual role after Denilson went off with 28 minutes left, setting up a golden chance for substitute Marouane Chamakh in the latter stages.
"I think at the moment Jack prefers to play a bit deeper because he likes to have the game in front of him where he can have little bursts to make the difference," said Wenger after the 0-0 draw.
"I feel as well he's given a lot and you could see that on Saturday."
Wilshere is fit to travel to Barcelona despite leaving Emirates Stadium with an ankle problem at the weekend. Wenger is not surprised the 19-year-old got a buffeting from Sunderland but he was concerned that Wilshere did not receive more protection.
"He got kicked a lot and what was frustrating is that when he was targeted he didn't get a lot [from the referee],” said the manager. “It's quite surprising because on quite a few occasions the decision was not to give him a free-kick and it was difficult to understand.
"Every good player has to live with being kicked. That means he has to get off his feet at the right moment for a fraction of a second, see what's happening around him, but there were a few fouls on him on Saturday that were not given. That was surprising to me."Copyright 2013 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 7 Mar 2011