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Jack Wilshere Admits Smoking 'Mistake' After Holding Talks with Arsene Wenger

WEST BROMWICH, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 06:  Jack Wilshere of Arsenal in actionm during the Barclays Premier League match between West Bromwich Albion and Arsenal at The Hawthorns on October 6, 2013 in West Bromwich, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Michael Regan/Getty Images
Christopher AtkinsContributor IJanuary 17, 2017

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has downplayed controversy sparked by images of midfielder Jack Wilshere allegedly smoking, while the player insists the incident has been "sorted."

Wilshere, who scored his first goal since 2010 to help the Gunners draw 1-1 at West Brom, has been at the centre of media scrutiny since the photo's publication last week, which was later dubbed a prank by a spokesman on behalf of the player, per Jack De Menezes of the The Independent.

The England man now confesses he made a "mistake," per Arsenal's official website:

I made a mistake. Players make mistakes, I'm not a smoker. I spoke with the boss, he asked me what happened and I explained to him and we sorted it out. He put me in the team and hopefully I repaid him.

Wenger had earlier given his opinion on the incident, predicting Wilshere will now attempt to respond in the correct manner on the pitch. Arsenal's official website provides the quotes:

[H]e is an honest guy and when he is wrong he knows it. I think today the players don't get away with anything. We got away with it a bit more but they know that's the rules of the modern game. They have to deal with it and I think he learns very quickly. What is more interesting for him and for Arsenal is that he shows the right response on the pitch.

Photo credit: TheSun.co.uk
Photo credit: TheSun.co.uk

Wilshere was criticised by his manager the day after the photo's publication, with Wenger telling his pre-match press conference that it was "unacceptable."

Per BBC Sport, Wenger commented: "I disagree completely with that behaviour. When you are a football player you are an example and you don't do what damages your health."

The manager appears to have now consigned the incident to the past and, instead, was keen to focus on a game where Wilshere overcame a difficult first half to play an important role in claiming a point for his side.

The England international, playing from the left side of midfield, gave the ball away on several occasions in the opening half of the encounter and was booked for a poor tackle on Claudio Yacob.

WEST BROMWICH, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 06:  Jack Wilshere of Arsenal is shown a yellow card by referee Lee Mason and is booked during the Barclays Premier League match between West Bromwich Albion and Arsenal at The Hawthorns on October 6, 2013 in West Bromwich
Michael Regan/Getty Images

However, he was much improved following the half-time interval and capped his performance with the goal that earned a crucial point for his side.

Post-match, Wilshere admitted to BBC's Match of the Day, per Sky Sports, that he had found life difficult at the Hawthorns, but was delighted to get his first goal for the club in nearly three years.

It was a tough game, coming here is never easy. We are happy with the point. 

It was a tough game for me. I am not used to playing on the wing, I'm still learning it, but I'm happy to do it for the team. I got a goal which was nice, I've always said I want to score more goals.

The midfielder will now head off to join up with Roy Hodgson's England squad for important qualification fixtures with Montenegro and Poland. He will hope that, with the picture fresh in supporters' memories, he can play an important role in helping his country qualify for the World Cup.

After his goal on Sunday, Arsenal fans were quick to salute their hero's contribution with a chant of "Jack Wilshere, he smokes when he wants"—to which Wilshere responded on Twitter:

The young midfielder, though, will be well aware that his manager will not accept a repeat of the past week's controversy and must ensure he meets club standards once more.

The best way to move on from the criticism of recent days, as ever, will be with more influential performances on the pitch.

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