It’s great to see Jack Wilshere playing again and getting in the minutes which he has severely lacked over the past couple of seasons. But are Arsenal fans getting too ahead of themselves, when they say it was a mistake to loan him out? Seems like an angry reaction to the underwhelming start to life in north London by Granit Xhaka, to me.
Wilshere seems to be stable at Bournemouth – he’s doing well. He isn’t setting the league on fire – but he looks to be giving consistent performances for the Cherries. Not only is he at a great club in Bournemouth, he’s also working under one of the best coaches in Eddie Howe. So even if Wilshere could be recalled – which he can’t unless Arsenal recalled him with the intention of selling him/loaning him to another team – why would you want to? It would be disruptive at the least.
Jack Wilshere’s pass to Afobe in the 2nd half. Almost a goal. pic.twitter.com/p6el2qMBGH
— Arsène Wenger (@WengersTouch) December 27, 2016
Criticism of Xhaka has been rife at the Emirates, particularly for his hilarious (for neutral fans) discipline record. The Swiss man is racking up the cards for Arsenal – and the fans are behaving like he is the biggest fraud of a player since Ali Dia. Consequently, sticking true to a football fan’s nature, change is needed immediately! ‘Look at Wilshere for Bournemouth! Why did we not give ourselves a chance to recall him!?’ Effectively, this is a case of a player becoming better in everyone’s eyes due to the errors of another. Wilshere is regarded as a vital missing piece due to the aspects of Xhaka’s game which are infuriating Arsenal fans.
#AFC manager Arsene Wenger will encourage Granit Xhaka not to tackle after the Swiss midfielder’s second red card.
Do you agree? pic.twitter.com/Olcz0iK3LG
— BetVictor (@BetVictor) January 26, 2017
Whilst it may be apparent that the Swiss midfielder’s YouTube compilation was a little misleading, for the majority of this season, Wilshere hasn’t even been playing in a deeper midfield role. The Bournemouth man has excelled in attacking midfield and seems to create plenty of chances, it’s shocking that he doesn’t have more assists! But would Arsenal play him in this position? It’s very unlikely that he would take Mesut Ozil’s place.
Where does Jack Wilshere fit in at Arsenal?
Arsenal’s system limits the English maestro. Without moving their prized German asset, he’s simply not able to play as advanced as he would like to. Xhaka isn’t the problem – Wilshere wouldn’t even be playing in his position – the partnership with Aaron Ramsey has been tested and failed before. He needs a club where he has the creative freedom – and right now, that’s at Bournemouth.
Effectively, there’s great competition for the two deeper roles available behind Ozil – A plethora of decisions for Arsene Wenger to make. Does the French man go for a defensive outlook with the likes of Mohamed Elneny and Francis Coquelin? Does the opponent require runs in behind which the Welsh man can make? We haven’t even mentioned Santi Cazorla.
We can think all day about the potential ways that Wenger could change his system to accommodate Wilshere, but it’s unrealistic. Yes, he could use a handful of formations to play him in central midfield or a more advanced role – but the reality is that in the majority of games, Arsenal will remain with their 4-2-3-1. So effectively, the England midfielder has two routes to playing for the Gunners…
He could compete with Mesut Ozil for the 10 role, but the assist king has made 50 chances to Wilshere’s 25. It’s not even close. Alternatively, there is already a competition between five players for two spots behind the 10, that alone makes it difficult to get the game time he needs. Especially when in some games, Wenger will look to play more defensive suited players.
Bramall: “They play best football in the PL, no doubt. That goal with Wilshere & Giroud [vs Norwich]? I love that goal, I always watch it.” pic.twitter.com/xtDnKmnBdQ
— Chris Wheatley (@ChrisWheatley_) January 10, 2017
When Arsenal scored that ridiculous goal against Norwich, Wilshere was actually used in a wider position – but is this the future of him? Of course not. The harsh reality may actually be that Arsenal have acquired world-class players in recent years, players who are named first on the team sheet. Whilst it maybe harsh on a player that has come through the youth academy, it’s quality that matters – which is why the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil will be catered for first.
What this suggests for now is that Jack Wilshere has found his level at Bournemouth. He’s at the right club where he will be given opportunities to play regularly; it’s what he needs. We all like to think that he will reach his potential and be a key player for England – and he is a quality player – but at which club in the top six could he play in his preferred position? Given the playing style of Pep Guardiola, this could be an option for him, but he is then faced with the same conundrum of competing for a spot against top level players.
Bournemouth’s level isn’t too bad either – they’re known for their great style and look like they could grow into a respectable top half club in the Premier League, but most importantly for the English midfielder, they’re a club that will build around him – Wilshere will be a vital asset to their team, and it is at that level where he will grow best.