LONDON (Reuters) - Jack Wilshere is finding his best form just as the Premier League title race heats up, Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger said after the midfielder inspired the Gunners to a 2-1 win at Aston Villa on Monday.
Wilshere scored one goal and made the other as Arsenal regained top spot and his display augured well for his club and England's hopes of making an impact in this year's World Cup finals.
"He has found his change of pace in his game and his penetration because he's not only a passer but he's guy who is incisive with the ball," Wenger told reporters.
"It's his strengths so from that you need to be at the top of your game physically.
"You see it when you know well the players in training. In the last games you see that he's coming back to his best."
Wilshere began the season slowly and his place in the England squad came under scrutiny when he was only a substitute in the vital World Cup qualifiers against Montenegro and Poland.
However, his form and fitness have returned and Wilshere has been instrumental in Arsenal setting the pace at the top of the league.
His goal on Monday was his first in the league since October and Wilshere said he hoped to start adding more to his tally over the coming months.
"Sometimes I have to play wide, sometimes I play in the middle, but as long as the team is doing well and getting three points that's all that matters," he said.
"I'm not really a defensive midfielder, I'd say I was an attacking midfielder, but if you're going to be one of those, you're going to have to create goals and score goals.
"You see the best midfielders in the past doing that, like (Frank) Lampard and (Steven) Gerrard."
With all their title rivals winning over the weekend, Arsenal knew any slip-up at Villa could prove costly but apart from a nervy final 15 minutes they were in control of the game to move one point clear of Manchester City.
"We had to give a strong response because everybody looks at you and see if you drop points because they have made their points over the weekend so the only way you can deal with that is we were a bit more under pressure when you play last," Wenger said.
"You know that you're not allowed to drop any points but you can only give one answer and that is to win the game."
(Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Ed Osmond)