Wilshere turns focus to catching United
Jack Wilshere has warned Manchester United now that Arsenal are out of the UEFA Champions League race, they will have just one focus - to deliver the Premier League title. The Gunners' hopes of Champions League glory were ended once more by Barcelona in the Nou Camp, who recorded a 3-1 victory as they overturned a first-leg deficit to progress 4-3 on aggregate.
Although Arsenal were left incensed by the sending-off of Robin van Persie for a second yellow card on 56 minutes after he shot on goal following a marginal offside call, the post-match statistics showed Barcelona dominated possession while the English side failed to muster a shot on target.
The fallout from another early European exit will continue after both Gunners manager Arsene Wenger and midfielder Samir Nasri were charged with improper conduct for "inappropriate language" towards Swiss referee Massimo Busacca. The case will be heard on 17 March.
Arsenal, though, do not have to wait long for a chance to redeem themselves on the pitch with the small matter of an FA Cup quarter-final at Old Trafford on Saturday. With the Gunners now just three points behind United, who lost their last two league matches and visit the Emirates Stadium on 1 May, there is certainly all to play for as Wenger's squad now set their sights on a domestic double.
Wilshere feels having no extra midweek Champions League fixtures from here on could actually be of great benefit.
"We are still in two competitions, just three points behind Manchester United in the league and with a game in hand," the 19-year-old midfielder said. "Maybe now that we are out of Europe, we can be stronger in the league, concentrate on that more, really push on to try to win the title.
"We know Manchester United are a great team, but they have a European game next week, so they might play a weakened side, then we can go there and take advantage of that. We have got great mental strength, there is disappointment in the dressing room, yes, but we have got to pick ourselves up and go to Manchester United to get the win.
"Then we need to be strong now in the league, to push on and make sure we get a trophy at the end of the year. We want to win every game. When United come to us, we want to be in front of them, hopefully we will be."
Wilshere's mature performances over the two legs against the Spanish giants were certainly a positive. Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola had suggested before the game he had several players like the 19-year-old in his reserves. Wilshere, though, again showed his huge potential with an impressive display up against the likes of 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ winners Xavi and Andres Iniesta.
"There is no better place to come and play your football, and if you have a good game it is a bonus," Wilshere said. "I will learn a lot from my own performance, but I would rather be going through."