Cesc Fabregas is a player who, after playing a decisive role in the World Cup final earlier this year, has proved to the footballing world that he is capable of handling the burden and strain that high-profile matches can place on a footballer. Until last night, doubts remained as to whether the same could be said of his long-term replacement at Arsenal, the young Jack Wilshere.

Now, though, after a glittering display from Arsenal inspired by a rampant and hungry performance from the young midfielder, there can be no such doubts. Wilshere shrugged off talks of pressure and expectations, along with the nerves that must be building in him as he’s billed as the next big thing in English football on a weekly basis by the press, on the biggest stage at the Emirates in a crucial Champions League group stage clash. Watching him perform, it’s difficult to believe he’s only been playing first team football regularly for the last couple of years and is still just 18 years of age.

After a difficult week that saw him steal the headlines for the wrong reasons after being sent off for a tackle described in the newspapers as “horrible” and “wild”, he proved to those looking at Premiership betting prices last night that, for the most part, he’s able to channel his natural aggression and passion for the game into a style of play in midfield that is both effective and a joy to watch at times.

Arsene Wenger, a man who had to work hard to keep Fabregas at the club during the summer, with Barcelona attempting to lure him to foreign shores, will surely be delighted at the manner in which the young Wilshere coped with the rigours of the Champions League. At this rate, Wenger won’t be too heartbroken at saying goodbye to the Spaniard with Wilshere waiting in the wings to be his long-term replacement.

If the youngster can continue in this rich vein of form, Arsenal could yet turn out to be real contenders for European glory this season, despite many Champions league prices judging them to be outsiders for victory.

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