Wilshere urges Walcott to stick to Guns
If Arsenal are ever to recover a semblance of former glories, one senses that the inspiration will spring from Jack Wilshere and his British brotherhood.
As Arséne Wenger's players toasted a third league victory in succession, just 48 hours after five leading homegrown talents had all committed their long-term futures to the club, Wilshere admitted that he was putting concerted pressure on Theo Walcott to become the sixth.
While Wilshere, Kieran Gibbs, Aaron Ramsey, Carl Jenkinson and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain have all extended their contracts at the Emirates Stadium, Walcott remains torn over his insistence upon being played as a centre-forward.
The striker's performance in this position against Wigan was not without its flaws -- indeed, his only moment of genuine influence was when he won a highly contentious penalty by dropping wide -- but Wilshere claimed he would do everything to convince his unsettled team-mate to stay.
"I'm always winding him up, saying 'Come on Theo, sign'," the midfielder said. "It's up to him and the club to reach an agreement, but Theo knows what he means to us and to the fans, so I hope he will."
Wilshere argued that the spectacle of five young contemporaries underlining their loyalty to Arsenal en masse could yet be a crucial factor in Walcott's next move. "I think he looked at that. We're all great friends, the British boys -- we go out and have meals together, sit together when we're on the road, so I hope that he can follow us and sign."
Wilshere embodies the type of steadfast attitude that Wenger values as Arsenal seek to sustain their incremental recovery.
A sequence of restorative Premier League victories against West Bromwich Albion, Reading and Saturday's 1-0 win against Wigan represents the team's best run in the league since March. For all the latest signs of encouragement for Wenger, one could be sure that he would not rest. "Suddenly, there are a lot of good things to talk about, but let's not go overboard," he cautioned.