The next big English superstar was once how many would have described Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere, now is another player entering the last year of his current contract with the Gunners and the speculation over his future has been at the forefront of many Arsenal supporters and English football supporters minds. Too say that Wilshere has fully reached his highest standard would be an understatement, though so many factors have contributed to how his career has panned out to date. His early career seen the usual comparisons, ‘the next Liam Brady’ to many associated with Arsenal, ‘the next Glenn Hoddle’ when talking in context to his international career, both now seem so far off in terms of where the tenacious midfielder is at in his career.
The injuries that Wilshere has endured for so much of his career have been highly unfortunate, especially when you consider that Wilshere is now 25 years old and broke into the Arsenal team making his debut at the tender age of 16, making only 160 appearances for Arsenal during this time. Arsenal and Arsene Wenger have taken criticism at the extreme amount of players that get injured at the club, and the frequency of these injuries, both short and long term, Wilshere has been the main sufferer of whatever was potentially going wrong behind the scenes at Arsenal. His attitude can sometimes contribute to how he goes in for a tackle or if he stretches into tackles where the automatic reaction is that doesn’t look good, though signs from last season for Bournemouth is that he looks more educated as to when to put a foot in to win the ball or stretching too far to win the ball back, where he has always looked vulnerable.
Wilshere has been deployed in many roles within the Arsenal team over the years, attacking midfielder, in a front three, left midfield and his best position in the heart of the Arsenal midfield. When looking at the Arsenal team especially the back end of last season and at the start of the current season, they have been playing the three at the back system, four in front and the front three, a system not entirely favored by man an Arsenal supporter. However the start of the season has seen Wilshere recovering his latest setback after suffering a break in his leg in April during his indifferent loan spell at Bournemouth, his return to fitness was marred by the sending off he received during an Arsenal under 23’s game against Manchester City under 23’s, really showing the frustrations that are building up within the England international.
The Arsenal central midfield is not entirely blessed with world class ability to prevent Wilshere from breaking in ahead of these players. Granit Xhaka has not looked anything like the player that he was during his time at Borussia Mönchengladbach in Germany. Aaron Ramsey is a supremely talented player but as an out and out central midfielder he is lacking, Francis Coquelin is the best holding midfield option that Arsenal have but he does lack the ability with the ball at his feet and Mohamed Elneny has shown glimpses but is nowhere near consistent enough to be the main man in that central midfield area. Step forward Jack Wilshere, perhaps the best central midfield option that Arsene Wenger has at his disposal. Wilshere has the ability to play different roles in the central midfield position, a holding midfielder Wilshere is not, but with the intelligence on the pitch Wilshire has the know how to drop into positions, he knows when to push forward, his ability on the ball is world class and he brings a leadership on the pitch for Arsenal something that Arsene Wenger and Arsenal have lacked for many years now, he would be Arsenal’s Marco Verratti in terms of describing his best role. On ability does Wilshere start in Arsenal’s best eleven, without question he is easily the best out and out central midfielder within the club, can he stay injury free and concentrate solely on reaching his full potential that is another matter for Wilshere.
Most recently watching Wilshere replacing the uninspiring Iwobi against FC Köln was a breath of fresh air, the reception he received from the Arsenal faithful was brilliant to see, showing that the fans still have Wilshere in their hearts. Pushed slightly further forward Wilshere was measured in everything he did on the pitch for his twenty minutes cameo, his accuracy of passing was exquisite losing the ball once then you see his tenacious nature into winning back possession for the Gunners, the dummy he sold on the FC Köln defenders at the edge of their own box was so intelligent taking two defenders completely out of the game which should have resulted in another Arsenal goal. Importantly for Arsenal and the Arsenal fans there looks a very good relationship on the pitch between Alexis Sanchez and Jack Wilshere, Sanchez perhaps appreciating that the intelligence of Wilshire on the pitch, this another quality that Arsenal lack within the team as a whole. Sanchez stole the headlines from the first game of the Europa League for Arsenal this season, however watching Arsenal during the final twenty minutes of the match was a joy to any neutral football supporter.
The rest of the first half of this season will dictate what happens next for Jack Wilshire and his future at the Emirates. With Roy Hodgson taking charge of Crystal Palace there has been a link straight away with Jack Wilshere joining him during the January transfer window, especially with Wilshere being the vocal point of Hodgson’s England team. This would certainly be a move that would ensure Wilshire is given every opportunity to play the minutes he would need to convince England manager Gareth Southgate to take him to the World Cup in the summer; however Wilshere is an Arsenal lad and during that season long loan last year with Bournemouth we never seen that same desire that we see when he is playing regularly for Arsenal or for his country. The big hope is that Wilshere can stay clear of injuries this season, because this could potentially be his year, he looks hungry to play and Arsenal would really benefit from having him in the heart of their midfield dictating games and leading the players around him, then moving forward representing England at the World Cup in Russia. This is a big season ahead for the entire career of Jack Wilshere and whether his future is at the Emirates or elsewhere.