Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has heaped praise on Jack Wilshere after the England international marked just his second Gunners start in 16 months with an inspired display in victory over BATE Borisov - but has refused to discuss his future beyond the end of the season.
The 25-year-old had only previously started the Carabao Cup win over Doncaster Rovers but played from the start in the number 10 for the north Londoners in Belarus, and justified his selection with a fine showing.
Wilshere's run and cross set up Theo Walcott for the opening goal before the forward doubled the lead with a simple finish after being presented the ball by goalkeeper Denis Scherbitski. Rob Holding netted his first Arsenal goal after meeting Per Mertesacker's flicked header, before Mirko Ivanic pulled one back before half time.
Olivier Giroud put the result beyond doubt with a penalty early in the second half to bring up a century of goals for Arsenal, and though Vitali Gayduchik lashed home to cut the deficit again BATE were unable to stage a late comeback.
Marcus McGuane and Edward Nketiah made their Arsenal debuts on an evening of relative comfort, where the headlines belonged to Wilshere after a timely return to form. But when asked about the ex-Bolton and Bournemouth loanee's future at The Emirates Stadium beyond the end of his contract in 2018, Wenger responded: "Not tonight."
He added on the showing, according to Football.London: "He had an outstanding first half and he fought until the end. He is on a good way back to his best and he showed that tonight. He is at an age where a player usually gets to the best of his career. He has been stopped by a series of injuries. I just pray that he is not hampered any more. He has shown tonight he has not lost his quality."
Walcott marked his return to the team with a double but was denied what would have been his sixth Arsenal hat-trick by Olivier Giroud, who took the second-half spot kick to bring up his 100th goal for the club. And it was a landmark Walcott was delighted to see the Frenchman reach.
"Being a forward you want to score as many goals as you can," he told BT Sport. "There was a chance for me to take the penalty. But knowing that Olivier was on 99 goals...it was a great moment in his career to get 100 goals for Arsenal. I have achieved that myself and it is a great feeling so that was why he took the penalty. There were chances but you can't be too selfish."