x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Jack Wilshere: Arsene Wenger criticism is a joke

The Arsenal midfielder has no intention of leaving the club despite a string of big name departures.

Jack Wilshere, left, has given his backing to Arsene Wenger, right, the Arsenal manager.
Jack Wilshere, left, has given his backing to Arsene Wenger, right, the Arsenal manager.

Jack Wilshere says he has no intention of following Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri out of Arsenal and branded people criticising Arsene Wenger as a "joke".

Wilshere, who was last week ruled out until February, after undergoing ankle surgery for a problem he picked up in pre-season, is confident he can realise all his ambitions with the Gunners.

Nasri and Gael Clichy left the club for Manchester City in the summer, while Fabregas joined Barcelona. Robin van Persie, Theo Walcott, Alex Song and Andrey Arshavin all have less than two years remaining on their contracts, fuelling fears they could be next to go.

But the England midfielder, Wilshere, 19, who signed a new five-year deal in November, told the London Evening Standard: "No disrespect to Manchester City but Arsenal is the perfect home for me right now. Some players have got their price but, to be honest, that's not the way I look at the game.

"All I think about is playing at the highest level and in the top competitions so I can measure myself against the best in the world.

"I really am happy at Arsenal at the minute. Obviously, I want to win things and I want to do it with Arsenal."

The Gunners have made a wretched start to the season and lie 15th in the Premier League, putting pressure on Wenger, the manager, who had already gone six years without winning a trophy.

Wilshere said: "We do get a harder time from the critics than most teams, but we haven't won anything for six years and that's not good enough for Arsenal. It is harsh, though, especially on the boss.

"He has been there for 15 years and been great for Arsenal. The criticism Arsene gets is just a joke."

He added: "We started a bit slowly but we still feel we can finish in the top four."

Elsewhere, Rio Ferdinand intends to ignore any overtures from Major League Soccer and concentrate fully on winning his place back for Manchester United and England.

After being left out of United's starting line-up for the weekend win over Norwich City, Ferdinand was then ignored by Fabio Capello for England's Euro 2012 qualifier with Montenegro on Friday.

Given the outstanding form of Phil Jones following his summer arrival from Blackburn Rovers, there has been plenty of speculation that Ferdinand, who is nearly 33 and has been plagued by fitness problems for three years, might be eased out at Old Trafford.

With that backdrop, the Chicago Fire, the ambitious MLS side have emerged as a potential suitor.

"It has been a very frustrating period for all concerned," Jamie Moralee, Ferdinand's representative, Jamie Moralee, said. "What he wants to do is put his injuries behind him and start showing the form that even last season he produced against some of the very best forwards in the world.

"Rio understands there is some great talent at Manchester United. But he is up for the challenge of that and I am sure he has a big part to play."