Arsene Wenger Defends Jack Wilshere After Being Labeled The 'Most Overrated Player on the Planet'

Arsene Wenger has defended Jack Wilshere after Roy Keane described the Arsenal midfielder as the "most overrated player on the planet."

Wilshere captained Arsenal in their 2-1 defeat to Ostersund on Thursday (February 22) in the second leg of the Europa League round of 32 tie, which saw Wenger's team progress on aggregate.

Keane, working as a pundit for ITV, criticized the performance of Arsenal but was particularly scathing of the England international Wilshere.

"Where do I start," he said. "I think Arsenal are a great example on how not to start a game of football. We can talk about being a shambles but they're so slow out of the blocks—poor attitude.

"The manager summed it up. No energy, no desire, you're looking for your senior players to lead by example.

"I always think, when Wilshere's your captain, to me, [he is] probably the most overrated player on the planet.

"And they got lucky with the result at the end of it. But if you start a game slowly, no matter how good you are, it's hard to get going. You can't just switch it on and off."

Jack Wilshere and Curtis Edwards
Jack Wilshere, left, and Curtis Edwards at the Emirates Stadium, London, February 22. Wilshere was described as the "most overrated player on the planet" by Roy Keane. ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty

But Wenger defended Wilshere on Friday morning, in his press conference ahead of the League Cup final against Manchester City on Sunday.

"It's very difficult," Wenger said, responding to Keane's comments. "I personally rate Jack very highly and after that you can have opinions.

"Jack was in a team last night that didn't perform well... Was it one of his best performances? Certainly not. Roy Keane knows that can happen to everybody."

Wilshere, now 26, returned to Arsenal at the beginning of the season after spending the last campaign on loan at Bournemouth. He has grown to be an integral part of Wenger's team again, featuring 26 times so far this season.

He is still likely to feature in Sunday's League Cup final at Wembley Stadium, especially as Mesut Ozil is recovering from an illness and Henrikh Mkhitaryan is cup-tied.

The League Cup is the only domestic trophy Wenger is yet to win in his 22 years as a manager in the Premier League.