Monday, August 18, 2014
Time for reflection as Wilshere becomes a “senior” player

Time for reflection as Wilshere becomes a “senior” player

This Summer Jack Wilshere will officially cross the boundary line from promising youngster to senior professional. At the age of 22, he will no longer be an “Under 21” player in terms of regulations and will have to be named in the senior list in Arsenal’s Premier League squad next season.

With his maiden participation in the World Cup on the horizon, not to mention Saturday’s FA Cup Final in which he will attempt to win his first senior trophy, now seems an appropriate time to assess Wilshere’s career so far, particularly in the wake of the comments made by Paul Scholes, who suggested that Wilshere hasn’t developed since he first broke onto the scene during the 2010/11 season.

Injuries have certainly been a contributing factor in Wilshere’s career so far. He missed the entire 2011/12 campaign and, since then, has struggled with niggling problems that have threatened to beset his progress.

There has been criticism of his playing style, too, with some suggesting that he holds onto the ball for too long on occasion, leaving his side vulnerable to counter-attacks. With Aaron Ramsey thriving and Mesut Ozil hardly likely to relinquish his star status any time soon, Wilshere may well be faced with a difficult task in terms of reasserting himself in the Arsenal starting line-up.

Earlier this season he was often forced to play out wide so that he could fit into the team, but his best performances for the club, most memorably against Barcelona in 2011, have come when he has been deployed in a deep-lying midfield position.

When he first burst onto the scene as a 16 year old with some sensational performances for the Reserves and then during the first-team’s pre-season preparations in 2008, Wilshere appeared to be a player who possessed all the attributes to make it to the very top of the professional game.

Six years on he has not yet reached the lofty heights some may have envisaged, but the Hale End product has still achieved some notable accolades, representing the Arsenal first-team on over 130 occasions, whilst also being named the PFA Young Player of the Year in 2011.

Ramsey, who joined Arsenal the same Summer that Wilshere was integrated into the first-team squad, has demonstrated that perceptions surrounding players, particularly those in their early twenties, can alter very quickly indeed. Just two seasons ago some of the criticisms currently being labelled at Wilshere regarding his form could just have easily applied to Ramsey.

The long-term vision was always that both Ramsey and Wilshere would be cornerstones of the Arsenal midfield for the foreseeable future. That aim could still come to fruition, but Wilshere will be hoping for much better luck on the injury front next season as he attempts to emulate Ramsey’s recent heroics.

An impressive World Cup would certainly help alter the wider perception of Wilshere, but, regardless, his qualities as a footballer have always been obvious. His ball control and passing ability is exemplary, and, at a time when fewer and fewer young English players are being given opportunities at elite Premier League clubs, he has succeeded in making the considerably challenging journey from a youth team player to a first-team regular.

The next step will be for Wilshere to improve his consistency. He has enhanced his goal tally, finding the net five times this campaign, and he will hope to enjoy even greater success during 2014/15.

Jeorge Bird is the author of  www.arsenalyouth.wordpress.com  Follow him on Twitter @jeorgebird

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37 comments

  1. wilshere's ankle

    I really hope he overcomes his injury problems. Imagine a fully fit wilshere alongside Özil and Ramsey. Worldbeaters…

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  2. Jack is true Gunner. He plays with his heart every time he is on the pitch. I have no doubt he will become one of the best in the league.

    There’s a reason he has that #10 on his back.

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    • the skill and passion are there. but the team hasn’t really gelled as yet, and his inconsistency is a reflection of the team’s. a season or two from now and i’m sure he’ll be back to his best.

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      • also, there’s no reason why we can’t have a midfield three of jack-aaron-mesut. it would take some work, figuring out responsibilities and all, but it has to be the future.

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  3. That Wilshere masterclass against Barca still gives me goosebumps! The number of times he glided past Xavi and Iniesta as if they weren’t there…

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    • Jack’s technique is pretty much perfect, and his season hasn’t been as bad as it is made out.

      Some of his highlights from this season: some of it is pretty fucking gobsmacking http://vimeo.com/95171659

      The turn and nutmeg he did against Bayern to put Özil through (just before he won the penalty) was sublime. He just needs some time to mature and get some consistency. He’s got all the tools to be a genuinely world-class player.

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  4. Super Super Jacky Wilshere!

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  5. C’mon Wilshere I can’t wait for you to step up and join Ramsey and Ozil in an irresistible combo

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  6. Mikel Artekkers

    To some extent Paul Scholes is correct (if I ever say that again somebody shoot me). Wilshere has struggled and his stats are pretty poor, and he definitely has a tendency to overrun and then lose the ball. To slate him for it in quite the way Scholes did is stupid however. His development has been halted by injury, and stats certainly don’t tell the whole picture when it comes to Jack. Those driving runs through midfield can alter the flow and balance of a match, as well as create space for other players. That doesn’t show up in the stats, and I really doubt Scholes has watched as much Arsenal over the last few seasons as I have.

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    • Wilshere has certainly struggled and there are elements of his game that need improvement, but to say that he’s no better than he was when he was 17 is quite the exaggeration.

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      • To be fair, and we don’t have to talk about that man who never learned to tackle, Wilshere does clearly have a tendency to hold on to the ball too long and he loves to run into cul de sacs, surrounded by four opposing players, being tackled, falling down and complaining. This has to change. He has to realize that most of the game is doing the basic stuff right, passing and moving. The genius moments are few, and the telling quality of a great player is knowing when to go for something out of the ordinary— a hard tackle, a good dribble to get clear, a hopeful pass that is unexpected. He has to tone down his arrogance and improve his judgment.
        As for the deep lying midfield role, he has said this season that he does not consider himself a defensive midfielder. Over to Arsene on that one, then.

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  7. The interesting, and positive part is that Jack can’t just walk in to the team on his potential. With Ramsey and Ozil (and even the Ox), he will have to step up his game to break through consistently. At that point it would be interesting to see how Arsene or the future manager would accommodate them.

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  8. To say Wilshere hasn’t improved since 17 is practically one of the most ridiculous this I have read or heard from a professional football.

    Just look at the goal of the season he scored this year. ….He wasn’t and didn’t have the understanding to do that at 17…I mean how many English footballer can you pick that have the ability to that that. …

    Or play the type of football that he does with the ozils and santi AND not look out of place doing so.

    He just needs to simplify his game in regards to passing quicker as he holds on to the ball too long sometimes.

    Anyway. ….COME ON THE ARSENAL

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    • From the technical perspective, I do not disagree that there is room for improvement for Wilshere in terms of mastering the technique of releasing the ball at the right moment.

      There has been much comparison between the phase Wilshere is currently going through with that of Ramsey before this season. However, I think the difference lies in the attitude displayed on the pitch between the two.

      Ramsey’s rough patch:

      - He was getting a lot of stick from not only the media, but sadly a substantial number of Arsenal fans as well
      - When he scuffed a shot or possession was lost due to a misplaced pass (sometimes to no fault of his), Ramsey just continued to try harder and work harder on the pitch, and did not display any displeasure when being substituted

      Wilshere:

      - Fans in general appears to be more encouraging and tolerant of him, any much fewer stick, if any
      - When a pass gone awry or he did not receive support/pass when he think he should, very often Wilshere could be seen gesturing at/blaming teammates.
      - Perhaps what go through a player’s mind or what a player does in training is different, but for me I think it is easier to think that Ramsey will reflect and acknowledge his mistakes and work hard to improve his game more than Wilshere would

      I’m not arguing against communication among teammates on the pitch, but there is a fine line between being a negative/disruptive influence and a positive/galvanizing one. For me, Wilshere is leaning towards the former at the moment. I feel if he does not let all the typically overboard hype engulfing a promising English talent go into his head, and adopt a humble attitude, he can certainly work towards the latter.

      And we would have an awesome player alongside Ramsey at Arsenal in the years ahead.

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      • Common thats more in terms of personality Ramsey is a cool head Wilshere is quite hot headed and we all respond differently in different situations

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      • Very harsh judgment on Wilshere. He is not the same person as Ramsey. He does not have the same temperament. This does not have to be any obstacle to his improvement. Wilshere’s histrionics almost certainly represent frustration with himself as much as his teammates/opponents/the ref, etc. And he has proven many time to be very intelligent, even if hot-headed. Almost certainly he follows up his outbursts with the right level of reflection. He’s very popular on the team, and that would not be the case if he was just known as a serial whinger. I think it’s also a great sign that he sought out Scholes to discuss the criticism of him, even though Scholes’s silly exaggeration was well worth of being ignored. Jack is willing to learn, and he will learn, and improve. As he does, Ramsey will continue to be the cool customer, because that’s his own personality. And we’ll have quite the fire and ice combination in midfield, which has been proven over and over across teams and eras to be a potent mix. Good cop/bad cop if you will. Wilshere will be OK. He has two key things that can’t be coached: sheer intelligence and raw talent. And he’s a gunner to the core. Fine days ahead.

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  9. Ozil's dodgy hamstring

    I think so called Pundits have to learn a little patience with the younger players, he is 22, which in footballing terms isn’t young, but certainly isn’t old. If he looks after himself, he could be playing for a long time to come. The truth is, he has on many occasion showed skill and ability way beyond his years and that doesn’t just go away. I think he has had lots of pressure put on him to be the man at Arsenal, much like Fabregas was, and often that pressure hasn’t come from the club, but pundits and the media. He still has time both with Arsenal and Englad to become a world class player, and then it will be a matter of stopping other clubs trying to unsettle and poach him.

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  10. I don’t understand how almost 26 years old Adam Lallana can be called a “young and exciting” talent and Wilshere who was 21 at the beginning of last season can’t be Allowed a freedom a youngster is afforded

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  11. There’s no doubt he’s a very good player, but holding onto the ball longer than he should is annoying and will get him kicked. He should simplify his game and I remember when Ramsey would attempt a backheel pass in front of his own 18 yard.

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  12. I can’t just comprehend how the media and so called pundits (Scholes) are so bias towards Arsenal youngsters. They did it to Walcott but he has proven them wrong. And so will Jackey do! COYG

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  13. Stewart Robson's therapist

    Obviously Arsene knows more than I do, but I don’t understand why he thinks Jack’s future is as a deep-lying midfielder. To me, he always looks more dangerous when he plays in more advanced positions where he can operate closer to goal, with freedom to attack and less defensive responsibility.

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    • You’re right, that’s what Wilshere thinks too.

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    • Clock End Mike

      I think there’s a difference between a ‘deep-lying midfielder’ and a ‘defensive midfielder’. Jack’s influence on the game is often most effective when he’s able to pick the ball up deep and drive forward into an attacking position, as he did in starting off that move ending in the goal he scored against Norwich. Another player who could do that was Cesc Fàbregas, and I see Jack Wilshere as perhaps someone who could perform a similar role.

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  14. Jack needs a good WC to regain a bit of form and confidence. Ramsey and Ozil are ahead of him in the pecking order at the moment.

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  15. He has scored more goals this season than in previous seasons. Scholes is right, he can improve, but a pube for saying he hasn’t improved. He will improve and them you’ll hear pundits crediting scholes

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  16. No doubt that injuries and not being able to have a long run in his favoured central midfield position has affected his game. He just has’t looked sharp enough because of this. The best attributes of his play a couple of years ago was that when he got the ball he was so quick to move it not only forward but past opposition player and in a way that it opened up an angle for him to pick a past. This season he looks to be trying too hard to make something out of nothing each time, going forward to directly instead of looking to move in to space and let the play open up in front of him. Opposition player looks like they wait for him to make that burst forward before putting in the tackle. He needs to relax and keep his play simple, and the rest of his game should come along.

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  17. Arseblogger's arsecrack

    I’m not convinced he’ll make it to be honest. When he first came through his age to talent ratio made him a fucking crazy prospect. But he got found out a little bit when given a regular run. The same could have been said of Ramsey to be fair so if he ends up making a similar story I’ll be happy as I used to think he could be the “new Gerrard” and now I’m a little disappointed. It’s a shame because he had two long-range power shots against the bar in the season that would have helped his confidence because the press and fans would have praised it wildly.

    This is a big season for him in 2014/2015.

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    • You haven’t actually forwarded an argument as to why Wilshere won’t make it. The fact that he was extremely talented at youth level and that as he progressed int he seniors oppositions began to figure him out sounds is obvious, but contains no argument that he can’t continue to learn and progress. And you shoot yourself in your own foot by mentioning Ramsey, about whom people said the same things.

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  18. I am also one of those that think his best position is up top.

    He seems to get caught flat footed while defending and yes he overruns the ball and should simplify his game before going or Bergkamp style.

    Personally my favorite Wilsire is the one where he played as an inside right against Marseile. He showed a lot of pace, incredible languid control and a messilicious curl to the top corner. awesome.

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  19. Scholes probably said that so that Wilshere would think that Ramseys development came at the expense off his…he obviously wants to create a wedge there, hoping one off them will join that middle-off-the-table team.

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  20. WilshereIsMyFavouritePlayer

    Just look at my name…Jacky Boy!!!!!!!

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  21. Wilshere is the perfect modern day midfield player! I think his best position is alongside Ramsey! He needs to work on his game though, especially his defending! As he matures he will defend more responsibility and I think if he does he’ll be right up there with the best in the world.

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  22. Finding Wilshere’s best position has always been a topic of debate. He seems to think that his best position is as an attacking midfielder. I honestly think he’s more suited to that deep lying role where he’s played his best games. He can pick up the ball and drive at the defence from the center of the ground. He also seems to love diving into tackles, which he needs to control a bit more sometimes but something I think none of us mine. His best attribute may be his long passing. I always saw him in the mold of a Xabi Alonso or Nuri Sahin in that aspect. The ability to cut open a defence with a long raking pass. Ramsey, on the other hand, is that classic box to box midfielder who can just do everything. Except unlike a lot of them, Ramsey can literally do everything.

    The Ox’s best position is actually one that’s quite interesting. I think that like Wilshere, he is a fantastic dribbler, is direct and his long passing is quite good. But to me I think that in the long run he’ll stay as a winger like Santi who can work in close spaces and can cut in to unleash a long shot. But also when we need him to he can play in that hole behind the striker.

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  23. I think jack was put under to much pressure at an early age when we sold fabregas nasri he was the one to step in ! I think the future looks good fitness is the key for him and the other midfielders they are not just reliant on him there are other quality players

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