Thursday, 7 February 2013

Jacked Up

A lot of talk this week has been about Jack Wilshere and his midweek performance has the media in a bit of a frenzy, especially when you consider England defeated Brazil. However, this isn't all about England, the main beneficiary of Wilshere's ability is Arsenal and I think that after just over three months since returning to our side, we are beginning to see Jack performing to the standard we've come to expect. Now of course Wednesday's performance against Brazil was impressive but if I'm honest,  I've seen him play better for us this season and I just want to focus on how he has improved as he's settled back into the side.

The Return

Jack returned at possibly the lowest point of our season to date. We had suffered consecutive defeats, initially away to Norwich, where Jack was an unused sub (I suspect Arsene intended on using him when we were 3-0 up with ten minutes to play) and then our home game to Schalke, which ultimately cost us top spot in the group. In truth the decision to play Wilshere from the start against QPR was classed as 'high risk' in my eyes. As with many games this was another 'must win' in October. Jack had a quite day, which is to be expected. He found his feet and tested Cesar with a decent effort in the first half and he went on to post some impressive stats for the game, he misplaced only three passes all game and only one misplaced pass out of twenty two attempts in their final third. It proved to be a good game to come back in as it was on open contest and thanks to a late goal mouth scramble and a fortunate non-offside call this result was not only big for the club but important for the reintegration of Wilshere into our suspect midfield.

The Lows
There have been some in Jack's short return to the side. His red card at Old Trafford came as the red mist descended due to weak refereeing and Jack took the law into his own hands. One thing is for sure, he is hot headed at times and we need him to mature quickly because not only can't afford we him to get sent off but miss potentially one to three games. He's also had moments like applauding the Mike Dean for dismissing Vincent Kompany, which is unnecessary but I put that down to a lack of professionalism and I'm sure he'll cut it out as he gets older. He was also apart of the Bradford shambles, let's not forget that whilst he is up there with Cazorla as our most talented player, this doesn't make us a one man team, far from it but it served as a timely reminder that we can't ever take things for granted but the Bradford defeat did provoke a reaction from some players, none more so than Lukas Podolski, who played his worst game in our colours that evening but he been in excellent form since.

The Passion

This is aspect that separates Jack from the rest of the side, his drive and passion to dig in when the chips are down is exactly what this side has been missing for far too long. We need leaders on the pitch, some can be vocal and some can galvanise others with their play on the ball. Wilshere provides both, I've seen him grill Podolski for not tracking back and lots of verbal exchanges with others (usually Gervinho) but he doesn't care who you are, if you aren't pulling your weight he isn't afraid to tell a few home truths. He's also taken the bull by the horns against Liverpool and City and drove at their defence to provide some form of reaction. Another aspect that sums up Wilshere's will to win is non-arsenal supporters hatred for him. Whether he's squaring up to Bale or Owen, he isn't bothered,he just shows fight and commitment and we as fans relate to that. He also has that arrogance that comes with being a top, top player and he's mainly disliked because opposition fans fear him. Much like the invincible side did at Old Trafford, whilst we were bang out of order that day, I felt proud that the team reflected the away ends feelings at full time, I absolutely loved it. We usually see it every season when this sides wilts under the first sign of pressure and you always like to think they care but when it comes to Wilshere it isn't even up for debate.

On The Up
Jack's finest hour since returning was probably the FA Cup replay against Swansea. He did all of the above in terms of grabbing the side by the scruff of the neck and dragging us into the next round. He capped a marvellous display with an absolute thunderbolt and he hasn't looked back since. If you want to analyse his progression from that QPR game then look at his stats against Stoke from last weekend. It was a dreadful game, as Stoke had their usual 'frustration formation' in full flow but Jack's pass completion was high and he had 41 touches in side their final third (compare that to the 22 v QPR). He's creating more and more opportunities as the games go by and with the mood our strike force is in, that can only be another massive positive. A lot of fans see Jack as the unofficial captain of Arsenal and it's difficult to get away from that, especially in games like Man City at home, he wasn't prepared to throw in the towel, when others appeared to have given up. We came up massively short that day but nobody had a bad word to say about him. You can more or less accept defeat if you see that the side have given their all but all too often we know that isn't the case and we can only hope his work ethic can prove to be infectious.

The Future
Well if you are an England supporter I'm sure a combination of Wilshere-Gerrard can go as far as they choose, I'm sure the England skipper sees a good few extra caps coming his way if he has his sidekick in centre midfield. I can't imagine Gerrard would be too impressed having to play centre midfield with Cleverley. Wilshere went up against Gerrard eight or nine days ago and he the Liverpool skipper just couldn't handle him and you can't put that down to an ageing Gerrard because he owned City's midfield on Sunday. Jack can do whatever he sets out to achieve and I hope we give him the resources in order to give him the platform he needs to reach his full potential because once the World Cup has been held in Brazil, we'll be fielding some very high offers. Maybe that's looking too far into the future but for now each game carries with it more and more pressure as the season really begins to hang on every result and we can ill afford anymore blips and an inform Wilshere can only help us kick on.

Feel free to leave any comments below or tweet me @mj_afc. Thanks for reading and I'd appreciate it if you could share the article via one of the links below.

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