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The resurgence of Jack Wilshere: Are you watching, Gareth Southgate?

Jake Brant
CONTRIBUTOR
Feature
693   //    04 Jan 2018, 21:53 IST

Arsenal v Chelsea - Premier League
Wilshere gave Arsenal the lead against Chelsea in their recent game

Arsenal fans, in particular, have been waiting to see for some time now whether Jack Wilshere had a future at the club and were waiting to see whether he was in Wenger’s long-term plans for Arsenal moving forward. It was being questioned whether his time was up at Arsenal and it was still to be seen if Wenger’s patience had run out with Wilshere.

He’s had an up and down career in the past few years with injuries, his fitness and playing for another club temporarily. He then comes back to Arsenal, only to be told that he’s got to work his way up again, understandably. He’s certainly been on a long road back to Arsenal’s first team but the question was will Wilshere take his chance being back in the first team squad?

Fitness

The biggest question on football fans' lips is, can Jack Wilshere stay fit and put his extensive injury list behind him and focus on playing for the club he truly loves? Jack has managed to play a number of consecutive games now for Arsenal and is reminding us all of the Wilshere of old. His fitness will have improved from his loan spell at Bournemouth where Eddie Howe, Bournemouth’s manager, took a calculated risk of bringing Wilshere to the Vitality Stadium knowing his past issues with injuries and fitness. However, it was one he was willing to take back in August 2016.

Over his 9 month period at Bournemouth, Wilshere managed to establish himself as a regular and was one of Eddie Howe’s star men. This called for some Arsenal fans to question Wenger’s decision to loan him out to Bournemouth in the first place and they were calling for his loan to be cut short by the club.

Unfortunately, during that spell, he did have setbacks with some more injuries which was a shame to see. This halted his progress which once again meant that questions were asked by fans and pundits alike whether Wilshere would be able to beat his demons and truly get over his fitness and injury issues.

Howe gave Wilshere the opportunity to get the minutes that he needed, to prove to Wenger that he still had something to give at Arsenal. The Bournemouth manager was desperate to keep him there which shows Wilshere certainly had a positive impact on Bournemouth’s success as a club helping them to stay up.

Since then, Wilshere has managed to prove his fitness levels by playing a bit of under 21 Football back at Arsenal. He then slowly made his way back up the pecking order by playing in the League Cup and Europa League games in a very much second string Arsenal team in a lot of those games with very few Arsenal first-team regulars. Finally, he’s made it back into the Arsenal starting 11 and made his first start in the Premier League this season against West Ham at the London Stadium. Since then, he’s continued to flourish and show what he can bring to the table by starting consecutive Premier League games for the first time since May 2015.

Ultimately, it’s too early to say, but if Jack can stay fit he can be a brilliant player and offer so much to club and country as it looks like he’s potentially managed to put his injury problems behind him.

Form

Arsenal v Newcastle United - Premier League
Wilshere has put in consistent performances after making the first team
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Wilshere has managed to make 19 appearances so far this season which includes coming off the bench. But, he noticeably began to make considerable strides forward due to Wenger giving him much-needed game time in the Europa League which allowed him to score his first goal for Arsenal. This was in a 6-0 victory against Bate Borisov at home in early December last year which was his first goal in an Arsenal shirt since May 2015.

He continued to keep up his improved performances and showed resurgence. With Wilshere only having started 6 games so far in the Premier League this season he’s still got along way to go but he’s moving in the right direction. His performances have been improving game by game with stand-out performances more recently against Liverpool and Crystal Palace. In the latter game, he managed to get an assist which led to Alexis Sanchez scoring. It proved to be the winning goal against Palace. He even managed to muster a goal against Chelsea in the game at the Emirates last night. Sadly, this wasn't enough to win Arsenal the game.

Particularly, last month Wilshere demonstrated that he’s still got his ability to drive the ball forward with his dribbling skills. He also has undoubtedly the ability to always look to create something with his short and long range passing. This is shown in his Pass Success percentage.

According to WhoScored.com Wilshere has an 87.6% pass completion rate in the Premier League and 86.2% in the Europa League games he’s played. It’s an impressive statistic to have with such little game time. With the current form that he’s in he’s also managed to compete and take the place of the likes of Granit Xhaka, Francis Coquelin and Mohamed El Neny in the Arsenal team.

What would he bring to the England Squad?

England v Turkey - International Friendly
A return awaits?

Wilshere has qualities that the England national team don’t always appear to have which is to know what it means to wear the shirt and play with passion and pride. It appears that Wilshere would wear the shirt with pride and put his heart and soul into playing for England. He’d also understand what it means to the fans, playing for England. He’s got the backing of former England right-back Gary Neville who recently said Wilshere is England’s current best midfielder and in 2015 Wilshere received positive words from former Barcelona midfielder Xavi.

The Arsenal midfielder’s chances all depends on where Gareth Southgate, the England manager, would choose to play him. He could either play him further forward in the centre-attacking midfield position which appears to be already occupied by Tottenham’s Deli Alli or play him centre midfield alongside another player or two which is probably the more likely option.

There isn’t a lot of competition in the centre of midfield for England with only Jordan Henderson of Liverpool and Eric Dier of Tottenham playing there. England have struggled to find players that can do what Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Paul Scholes offered all those years ago. It may be that Wilshere can fill that role of at least one of those players. He offers that different range of passing that Gerrard did so well for club and country and Wilshere likes to have a long-range shot which Paul Scholes and Frank Lampard were known for.

Wilshere can also win the ball back very quickly, break up the play of the opposition and set the team on their way which England certainly need more of if they are counter-attacking. He also has the ability to play a good final ball, which England lack, as they struggle with the final pass on more than one occasion.

Does Wilshere go to Russia then?

In my opinion, I certainly don’t see why not. Southgate has nothing to lose in taking him to Russia this summer. I hope in 2018 he’ll be given a chance to see if he can stake a claim in the England squad to show what England are missing out on.

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Jake Brant
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