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Jack Wilshere Defends Arsenal's Character After Troy Deeney's 'Cojones' Comments

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistOctober 19, 2017

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 01: Jack Wilshere of Arsenal warms up during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Brighton and Hove Albion at Emirates Stadium on October 1, 2017 in London, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Julian Finney/Getty Images

Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere has defended the character of his team-mates after criticism from Watford striker Troy Deeney. 

After the Hornets snatched a last-gasp 2-1 win over the Gunners in the Premier League on Saturday, Deeney rubbed salt into the wounds of the opposition players by branding them "naive" and saying they "lack cojones" for these types of battles, per the Evening Standard.

Wilshere has disagreed with the Watford man's assessment of Arsenal ahead of their match with Red Star Belgrade on Thursday in the UEFA Europa League, though he conceded the words stung. 

"As a player if your attitude is questioned, it's horrible," he said at a press conference, per Mattias Karen of ESPN FC. "I look around this team and you can't question our character. People try to put us down, they always have. I don't think the comments were justified."

Darko Vojinovic/Associated Press

While Wilshere's natural instinct will always be to back his colleagues, there have been many times this season and in recent years when this team has wilted under pressure. 

Away from home, in particular, they've struggled in the Premier League this season. Arsenal have netted one goal in four matches on the road, but they have yet to score from open play. From the 12 points on offer in those games, they've only managed to pick up one.

As noted by uMAXit Football, in 2017 Arsenal's away record has been a long way short of their rivals:

Tifo Football @TifoFootball_

Premier League away points in 2017: Tottenham - 32 Manchester City, Chelsea - 29 Manchester United 26 Liverpool - 20 Arsenal - 14 Poor. 😳 https://t.co/4z3dmdA8K7

After the loss to Watford, Arsenal skipper Per Mertesacker said the Hornets "wanted it more" and described the performance turned in by his own team as "timid," per James Benge of the Evening Standard.

James McNicholas of Bleacher Report believes these types of comments from the captain add further credence to Deeney's claims that this team is soft:

gunnerblog @gunnerblog

You can't possibly take issue with Deeney questioning Arsenal's character when our own players freely admit the issues.

While Wilshere's words should rally his team-mates ahead of away games against Red Star on Thursday and Everton on Sunday, the only way opinions will change about this Arsenal team is if they improve consistently.

Deeney stuck the boot into Arsenal after Watford's win.
Deeney stuck the boot into Arsenal after Watford's win.GLYN KIRK/Getty Images

After an encouraging September, the team appeared to be building some momentum in 2017-18. But the feeling with Arsenal is that another performance and collapse akin to the loss at Watford isn't far away. In the latter years of Wenger's career, these displays have almost become commonplace.

It's tough to see that changing, although Arsenal need to find some sort of confidence in their play on the road to prevent this season slipping through their fingers. At this point, wins in Serbia and then on Merseyside feel imperative for the Gunners.

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