Jack Wilshere’s full England debut has drawn mixed reactions from the media. While there are those that acknowledge he was played out of position, in a formation he is not used to and still managed to complete a 93% passing success, others that are more critical of him expecting a shower of goals and perhaps some Ronaldo style show-boating
Admittedly, when I watched Wilshere at the start of the season against Liverpool, I was slightly concerned. I’m not of those that would say he looked out of place in the team. He seemed to be lost at times being unable to read the game and while the media were glorifying him, I was starting to get concerned how he would handle the pressure coupled with some average performances.
Then dawned the game against the Spuds in the Carling Cup. Albeit both teams went for weaker line-ups, the game was a real show of Wilshere’s ability. He was constantly hacked down by the Spuds midfielders who just could not handle his bursts of pace, quick one-twos and the way he would breeze past them with complete control of the ball reminiscent of Alexander Hleb. He kept his temper in check throughout the game, not reacting to fouls and attempts to displace his positioning.
In many ways, Jack needed this type of a game where he could be given complete control of the midfield. The game no doubt built his confidence and he hasn’t looked back since. The Champions League game in Belgrade a few days later helped him to build on the confidence and bring belief in his own ability. This was especially highlighted by the quick one-twos he played with Arshavin and his ability to command play in the centre.
This is where many of us truly grasped what he is capable of. We saw flashes of it in the Emirates Cup where he toyed with Rangers midfield and defence, making them look amateur. Wenger kept faith with Jack from the very first game in Anfield at the start of the season and it has paid off.
Arsene has always emphasised that the top players in the world are the ones that know how to do the basics well. Christiano Ronaldo is a prime example of that. When he started off in the Premier League his only dimension of playing was to do 10 step overs and leave the ball 20 yards behind – a trick that defenders learnt to deal with. Over time, Fergie drove home the idea of keeping things simple and using his pace as a weapon and it changed the player.
That brings me to last night’s game. Wilshere’s passing and positioning was immaculate and a real testament to the way Arsenal play the game. Every pass he made was followed by taking up a position to receive again. He constantly formed the triangles to make sure there is always an option to pass to and receive. Possession is 9/10th’s of the law and as long as you keep possession, the opponent cannot score. It’s basics but key foundations to a great player and the rules Jack abides to in his game.
Wilshere has a while to go before he is mentioned in the same breath as other world class players, but the signs are looking good as long as he remains focused and with a team that concentrates on building technical players.
On to the Wolves game, I believe bar Djorou, we should stick to playing our first team and forget about the Champions league until 6pm on Saturday. We have a fantastic opportunity this season with our rivals having the more tricky fixtures to play and looking fragile away from home.
Arshavin looks like he’s getting back on form and Fabregas, Van Persie and Song were all spared from playing internationals midweek. This will no doubt give us a small boost before some very important games. Wolves will be tricky after their weekend result and let’s not forget that they have taken big points off the top teams this season. We were fortunate to some extraordinary saves by Lukasz Fabianski in the reverse fixture at the Molineux earlier in the season. Last season, we needed a late late goal from Bendtner to rescue us in this fixture. Let’s hope we don’t leave it so late again this year.
Final Note: I could not let this go without having a dig. People never really realise how truly amazing 03/04 season was. So this is to the Manure fans…INVINCIBLES? YOU’RE HAVING A LAUGH!!!