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Friday 2 December 2016

Jack Wilshere: I'm sorry if my anti-Tottenham chants caused offence

Jack Wilshere aimed a foul-mouthed outburst at Spurs during Arsenal's FA Cup victory parade
Jack Wilshere aimed a foul-mouthed outburst at Spurs during Arsenal's FA Cup victory parade

Jack Wilshere has apologised if his anti-Tottenham chants during the FA Cup victory parade on Sunday caused any offence.

The 23-year-old, who came through the Arsenal youth ranks, took to the microphone to mock the club's fierce rivals as the players celebrated on a stage outside the Emirates Stadium.

In similar scenes to 12 months ago, Wilshere then proceeded to lead the massed ranks of Arsenal supporters in a chant which included expletives against Spurs, who again finished below their north London neighbours in the Barclays Premier League table.

The England international earlier on Monday received backing from the Arsenal Independent Supporters' Association, but also drew plenty of criticism, including from former Gunners' striker Niall Quinn who said Wilshere had "overstepped the mark".

READ MORE: Arsenal star Jack Wilshere blasts Spurs in foul-mouthed tirade at victory parade

While falling short of saying sorry for making the remarks, Wilshere used a Twitter post to apologise to anyone who had been upset by them.

"Sharing back2back Cup wins with so many amazing Gooners is a dream come true. Apologies if I upset or offended any of u with my celebrations," Wilshere wrote.

Wilshere is set to join up with England later this week for the June internationals, and there is no suggestion at the moment that the Football Association are looking into the matter.

Arsenal, though, issued a swift apology during their in-house media broadcast of the event and are understood to have spoken to Wilshere about his conduct.

Quinn felt Wilshere, who also recited a popular expletive-ridden chant about Tottenham as Arsenal celebrated their 2014 FA Cup final triumph, should have shown more constraint.

The former Republic of Ireland international, who won the 1987 League Cup with Arsenal, said: "You want passion from your players, there is no doubt about that, but he has overstepped the mark once more.

"I think most Arsenal fans and fans of any club love to interact with players and love to feel their passion, but he has pushed the boat out too far once again. He has to act a little bit better from now on."

However, chair of the Arsenal Independent Supporters' Association Lois Langton believes Wilshere has been unfairly criticised.

Langton told Press Association Sport: "Much is often made of the so-called disconnect between modern-day players and supporters. It is hardly surprising that players are cautious about wearing their hearts on their sleeves if the reaction to Jack Wilshere is anything to go by.

"No doubt Arsenal will be obliged to remind him of his duties when representing the club in public, but Jack Wilshere showed yesterday that he totally understands what it is to be an Arsenal supporter.

"He has been with us since he was nine years of age and, for him, winning with Arsenal means celebrating with supporters.

"Jack simply reflected what is sung on the terraces up and down the country, week in and week out - the Spurs supporters have exactly the same songs for us."

Tottenham Hotspur Supporters' Trust declined to make any comment on the matter when contacted by the Press Association on Monday morning.

Wilshere's actions off the pitch may have grabbed the headlines, but there is a growing feeling this Arsenal squad can now go on to challenge for the Premier League title.

Wenger is expected to further strengthen the group in the summer, with the likes of England midfielder James Milner and veteran Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech reported targets.

Midfielder Aaron Ramsey believes results this season at places like Manchester City and Old Trafford have shown what Arsenal are capable of.

He said: "We have learned in the big games how to manage them and it will be important to go into next season with that sort of mentality.

"It is not an easy thing to do to win back-to-back FA Cups. We have set the bar and, hopefully, we can go on now.

"If we can get off to a good start next year, put ourselves into contention we will have a good year and a successful challenge for the Premier League.

"As long as we keep players fit throughout the season and not lose players in vital parts, I think we will have a great chance."

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