Football: Wenger hails Wilshere strength of character

Arsenal's Jack Wilshere throws his shirt to fans after their English Premier League football match against West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthorns in West Bromwich, central England, Oct 6, 2013. Arsene Wenger hailed Jack Wilshere's character as the mid
Arsenal's Jack Wilshere throws his shirt to fans after their English Premier League football match against West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthorns in West Bromwich, central England, Oct 6, 2013. Arsene Wenger hailed Jack Wilshere's character as the midfielder put a testing week behind him by scoring the goal which sent Arsenal back to the top of the table. -- PHOTO: REUTERS  

WEST BROMWICH (AFP) - Arsene Wenger hailed Jack Wilshere's character as the midfielder put a testing week behind him by scoring the goal which sent Arsenal back to the top of the table.

England international Wilshere was reprimanded by his manager after pictures emerged last week of him with a cigarette outside a London nightclub.

Yet he responded by scoring his first league goal in over three years to earn a 1-1 draw at West Brom on Sunday as the Gunners climbed above Liverpool by virtue of having scored more goals.

"He is an honest guy and when he is wrong he knows it," Wenger said.

"Nowadays the players don't get away with anything. We got away with more (in bygone days). They know those are the rules of the game and of modern society. They have to deal with it.

"He learns very quickly. What is more interesting for England and Arsenal is that he shows the right approach on the pitch.

"He had a difficult first half but he has shown he has character and kept going. It is good he was rewarded.

"I don't think he will ever be a goalscorer. He is a player who can create chances and provide chances for others. That is as important. But it is good he knows he can score. Let us not forget we had the same problem with (Aaron Ramsey) a while ago." These represented the first points the Gunners have dropped since their defeat to Aston Villa on the opening day, ending a run of 10 successive victories in all competitions.

But Wenger insisted afterwards that remaining in pole position will represent a psychological boost for his team who, having gone behind in the league for the first time this term, answered questions over their stomach for a fight by responding to Claudio Yacob's opener.

"It was important not to lose, once we were down. That was the most important thing. But for the mental confidence it was good as well," said Wenger.

"The mentality of a champion is built up through a season. What is important is that we continue to focus on the way that we play. We have a desire and a spirit. It is still early, it is October." West Brom, meanwhile, can take heart from an excellent fortnight in which they have turned around what was a disappointing start with seven points from three games, following up victories over Sunderland and Manchester United with a creditable point.

"I thought we more than deserved the point," Steve Clarke, the head coach, said.

"We are playing very well. We had a couple of opportunities to make it 2-0 and had one of those gone in that might have been enough. You have to say it was a fair result." Their anchoring midfield pairing of Mulumbu and Yacob succeeded in denying the Gunners' creative trio of Mesut Ozil, Aaron Ramsey and Wilshere the chance to ever fully settle into the rhythm which has tormented opposition of late.

"They have been a key part of the team since I came here, a good solid base for us in front of the back four," said Clarke.

"I'm pleased with the players, I thought we played another good game against another top team. Four points from these last two games is good for us."