Jack Wilshere believes he is nearing a return to his best form as he prepares to make a fifth successive Premier League start when Arsenal visit West Bromwich Albion on Sunday.
The game will see manager Arsene Wenger in charge for a record 811th Premier League game, passing the mark previously set by Alex Ferguson at Manchester United, and give the Gunners an opportunity to strengthen their push for a top-four spot.
For Wilshere, it will also offer the chance to reinforce the view he has re-established himself after breaking a leg towards the end of his loan spell at Bournemouth last season.
Since being promoted into Wenger’s first choice line-up, Wilshere has excelled, prompting talk of an international recall ahead of next year’s World Cup finals in Russia.
The 25-year-old’s most recent display in Thursday’s 3-2 win at Crystal Palace — a win that moved the Gunners to within a point of the top four ahead of the latest round of matches — drew praise, in particular for the pass that set up Alexis Sanchez’s second goal.
After several injury-scarred seasons, Wilshere insists he is feeling as good as he has done for some time.
“I was happy with my form last year and I’m probably better now,” he told arsenal.com.
“I feel better, I feel fitter and I’m getting better with each game. I’m enjoying my football.”
Wilshere is out of contract at the end of the season but expects to open talks about a new deal soon.
“I spoke to the boss and he says he’s going to speak to me, so we’ll see when he speaks to me and I’m sure it will be done,” he said.
‘A big blow for us’
Sanchez’s double underlined how important the Chile international is to Arsenal when he is on form and put the focus firmly on the player’s contract impasse.
The South American is in the final year of his current deal and is expected to be a target for Manchester City in January — the leaders having failed to sign him on deadline day back in August.
Wilshere, though, is in no doubt about his team-mate’s quality.
“He comes to feet, spins in behind and just makes it difficult for defenders and easy for midfielders to pick passes,” said Wilshere.
“He makes it a lot easier and he puts it in the goal which means I get the assist for it.”
West Brom are winless in 18 straight Premier League games including six under recently-appointed head coach Alan Pardew, who has suffered a further blow with the news Nacer Chadli has been ruled out for another two months.
The Belgium international has played just three times in the Premier League this season because of hip problems and limped off only 15 minutes into his latest comeback in the 3-1 defeat at Stoke City last weekend.
“We think he’s going to miss the first two months of this year which is a big blow for us,” said Pardew.
“Coming out of the Stoke game that was probably as big a blow as the defeat.
“It’s something I’m going to have to look at in January, because obviously he’s a quality player going out of the group for some considerable time.”
© Agence France-Presse