Jack Wilshere believes he is more defensively aware after taking up a new position this season.
The 18-year-old came through the ranks at Arsenal as an attacking midfielder and made his first-team bow on the right of a three-pronged attack. But since breaking into the side this term Wilshere has operated in a deep-lying role, often alongside Alex Song as the '2' in a 4-2-3-1 formation.
The position gives Wilshere a chance to showcase his impressive range of short and long-passing but, equally, it has given him added responsibility to protect his back four. The teenager thinks it is working out well.
“I think it’s good for me to play in that position,” Wilshere told the Official Arsenal Magazine.
“It helps that I can work on defensive things as well as my attacking game. This year I’ve become, if not a holding player as such because I still like to get forward, more aware of the defensive aspect.
“Alex and I both know how it works and it doesn’t even need that much talking. If I go upfield, Alex is clever enough to see that he needs to stay and vice versa – if he goes I can see that I need to hold. And the centre-backs help us as well, they’re always talking because they can see what is happening in front of them.
"Perhaps at the start of the season I was holding back a bit, getting to know the role, but recently I’ve been getting forward more often – I got that goal against Aston Villa and I’d like to score a few more now.
“At the beginning of the season the boss told me he sees me playing in that position but the defensive side, my heading from goal-kicks and my tackling for example, needed to be worked on. And I think it’s improving all the time.
"Certain things come naturally and tackling wasn’t one of them, I’d sometimes go a bit over the top when I was younger. Everyone’s going to get some wrong through – I certainly did against Birmingham, but it’s getting better and in the position I play it’s an important side of the game.”
Click here to subscribe to the Arsenal Magazine or call 0845 301 7626Copyright 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 21 Dec 2010