Arsene Wenger praised Jack Wilshere as “outstanding” and Olivier Giroud’s “remarkable achievement” in scoring his 100th goal for Arsenal in their 4-2 victory at BATE Borisov.
The 25-year-old Wilshere is attempting to recover a place in Wenger’s starting XI and earn an extension to the contract that expires at the end of the season, and at the Borisov Arena in Belarus he consistently demonstrated his creativity and vision.
Recalled alongside Theo Walcott, Per Mertesacker and Giroud as Wenger made nine changes in preparation for Sunday’s fixture at home to Brighton, the midfielder’s passing on his second start of 2017-18 repeatedly stretched their hosts.
Two finishes from Walcott, another from Rob Holding and Giroud’s penalty left Arsenal top of Group H with two wins from their two Europa League fixtures, and Wenger said of Wilshere: “He had an outstanding first half.
“He fights until the end. He’s on his way back to his best and showed that. He’s at an age where a player normally gets to the best of his career. He’s on the way up. He’s only been stopped by a series of injuries.
“Hopefully, I just pray, he is not hampered by any more problems and that will see him getting stronger and stronger. He’s shown again that he’s not lost his football.”
Giroud’s 49th-minute penalty restored Arsenal’s three-goal lead to put them 4-1 up, but when Mikhail Gordeychuk scored the hosts’ second in the 67th, Arsenal fell under increasing pressure.
The French forward has been marginalised by the summer arrival of compatriot Alexandre Lacazette and the form of Danny Welbeck.
He also had little influence beyond his goal, but of him joining Thierry Henry, Ian Wright, Cliff Bastin and others in scoring 100 goals for the club, Wenger said: “I just congratulated him for his remarkable achievement. He is in good company, when you look at the number of goals he’s scored.
“It’s a remarkable achievement. I congratulated him for that remarkable achievement.”