Wilshere turns focus to title race
Jack Wilshere has warned Manchester United that Arsenal are now fully focused on clinching the Premier League title after being knocked out of Europe.
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.
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.
Arsene Wenger's men are desperate to end their trophy drought and a few weeks ago they were still in all four competitions. They have since lost the Carling Cup final to Birmingham and fallen to Barcelona but according to Wilshere that has simplified their hunt for silverware, allowing them to concentrate purely on domestic matter.
With the Gunners now just three points behind United, who lost their last two league matches and visit the Emirates Stadium on May 1, there is certainly all to play for as Wenger's squad now set their sights on a league and FA Cup double.
"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 England 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.''
Wilshere added: "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 Wilshere in his reserves. Wilshere, though, again showed his huge potential with an impressive display up against the likes of World Cup 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.''