Since first establishing himself in Arsenal’s first team plans in 2010-11, Jack Wilshere has amassed a grand total of ninety eight Premier League appearances. In total, since making his debut, he has made one hundred appearances for the club.
In eight years.
To put this into perspective, Nacho Monreal just notched his century of Arsenal appearances overall – and he joined the club in 2013.
There can be no lingering doubt that whatever plans our manager had to best optimise his diminutive England man, they have been shelved – and the dust bunnies that now gather on these plans threaten to consign one of our most promising players to the annals of history.
Jack Wilshere, at this point in his career, should have nothing left to prove. Possessing a left boot capable of leaving even the most talented opponents chasing his shadow, and with a competitive spirit so fierce he regularly trounces his infant children at Mousetrap and then makes them sit through action replays of his epic victories – the man has the tools at his disposal to boss not only Arsenal’s midfield, but his country’s too.
In the eight years since he began to properly showcase his talents, if his body weren’t made from papier mache and broken dreams, he would be the golden boy of English football. Could he have propelled us to glory? Such is his glittering talent, it wouldn’t be amiss to say it is entirely possible that Arsenal could have taken advantage of a fit Wilshere and gone on to grab honours.
As we are all aware though, this is just conjecture, as in cold reality Wilshere is nearer the Arsenal exit door than becoming the Gunner’s poster boy. Thanks to a woeful series of injuries to our bow-legged midfielder, Wilshere will now be focusing on getting a chance to play before any photo ops with trophies.
Another problem facing the man who has bed sores from lying on the treatment table for prolonged amounts of time, is that fans forget. Whilst his goal against Norwich two seasons ago is still fresh in the memory, his other assets are often overlooked. The boy can tackle, and there is good reason why he is used primarily as a deep-lying playmaker for England. Of course, his vision is chief among them, but if he couldn’t break up play, then surely he would just be used as a conventional Number 10? The reason for his position is that he can shield the backline effectively.
He has stamina, and he has a cracking shot when given the opportunity. However, because his short passing game is so fresh and useful, he is viewed as simply a playmaker. Even Arsene Wenger has said on record that he sees Wilshere as a predominant playmaker.
All of this is futile though, if he cannot regain a semblance of fitness. Will he ever last a full season? Will we have to handle him with kid gloves throughout a campaign, forever fretting over every time a player makes contact with him? If so, then can we afford to have a passenger in our squad?
No matter how much potential a player has, there comes a watershed moment when we have to bin the driftwood. Judging whether Jack is driftwood however, is difficult. Perspective shifts with every Arsenal performance and every midfield combination we stutter to.
Does he fit into the centre? Doubts still hover over whether he can perform this role due to his disturbing habit of keeping hold of the ball for longer than he ought to – leading to his plethora of ailments.
Does he play as playmaker? When we have Mesut Ozil, the firm answer is no.
Does he play as a deep-lying playmaker? What about on the wing?
Since Santi Cazorla has been joining in Jack Wilshere’s Connect Four tournaments in the medical bay, it has become apparent that we severely lack a player who can carry the ball forward. A man who can transition defence into attack with either a quick pinged ball or a rapid slalom, leaving players in his wake. Santi Cazorla is the best player in our roster at this when on form. Tomas Rosicky is also adept. Jack Wilshere though, with the ball at his feet and on song, can transform his team from under pressure and penned in, to roaring attack in seconds.
Both of these players are now fit – for how long, no one can say – and an extended run for both could be huge for their respective careers.
Jack Wilshere, if alongside a sentry-like midfielder, can be the middle man, the link, that Arsenal require. Arsene knows this, and I like to think our fanbase know this too.
It is imperative he gets through next season unhindered. If not, then a player who could just be the answer we’ve been yearning for on the transfer market could just be turfed out to pastures new.