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Arsenal teenager Wilshere impresses in preseason

ARSENAL manager Arsene Wenger has been impressed with the development of 17-year-old midfielder Jack Wilshere in the preseason, saying he is becoming more powerful in bursting past and destabilizing defenders.

Wenger's biggest challenge in managing the precocious teenager, who was named man of the match yesterday in Arsenal's 2-1 victory over Atletico Madrid in the Emirates Cup, will be getting him to accept not being a first-choice player.

"At that age unfortunately, patience is not your first quality," Wenger said. "But he's at a big club and he has a chance to compete already. We give him the chance to compete at the top level and we have to manage that well - the desire to play, the opportunity to play and patience. The potential is there."

Wilshere broke into the first team last season, becoming the youngest player, at 16 years, 256 days, to play for Arsenal in the Premier League. Wenger has acknowledged similarities to the career path of Cesc Fabregas, who still holds the honor of being the overall youngest player to appear in an Arsenal shirt.

But Wilshere's style differs from that of Arsenal's captain.

"Wilshere is more a player who goes at people and runs at people, so you need more power," Wenger said. "Cesc is more a passer of the ball. Wilshere is more a guy who provokes and passes people, destabilizes people and that game demands power. We have noticed in our preseason and training that he has gained power."

Wilshere, who will turn 18 on Jan. 1, demonstrated that power yesterday, making strong runs down the right flank and creating several chances.

"He has matured and you see compared to one year ago he has more power to take people on," Wenger said. "Of course he's only 17 years old and that shows you that there's a big potential there.

"He's now gained a fraction of power that makes him much more dangerous. Once people start to pass people in the final 20 yards you can always say there's something special there."

Arsenal finished fourth in the Premier League last season, spending several weeks in fifth place and under threat of not qualifying for this season's Champions League. The team hasn't lifted a trophy since the FA Cup in 2005 and last won the league in 2004.

Wenger has relied on youth in recent seasons, declining to spend big money on established players.

Arsenal plays Scottish team Rangers today, the final day of the Emirates Cup.


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