What do you need to do to make the fans of a club love you?
1) Be a mercurial talent such as Ozil or Alexis
2) Mock your rivals on social media the way Poldi did
Well what if you are both and a product of the club’s academy? Well, obviously the fans will go gaga over you!
Wilshere has been a precocious talent, way better than people his age all throughout the academy. He stood out at 16 while playing pre season games for the first team. He was so good, that the usually anti-Arsenal media were desperate to actually build an England team around him once.
Well what happened to him? Just as the case for most prodigies these days injuries struck him. From the boy who dominated a peak Barcelona triumvirate, to the man out on loan at AFC Bournemouth. No disrespect to Bournemouth intended, but Wilshere is a player everyone expected to be one of the first names on the team sheet by now.
The above is a comparison of Wilshere in the season 2012/13, his first season after a major injury with Dele Alli last season a player the media cannot stop waxing lyrical about. A Wilshere who has just returned from injury showing significantly better stats than Alli. Yes the assists and goals from Wilshere are lesser, assists due to poor finishing on our side and goals because he was a player who would not go as forward as Alli. But the point here I hope is clear. Wilshere was a mercurial talent. A player who could drive past 4 or 5 players with consummate ease.
However, something I noticed after his first injury that was different about him was him increase in size. Yes you could argue he bulked up and that was needed. Then the second injury came along, he seemed even more bulked up. He was 65 kilos in 2013 and 76 in 2015. There is no doubt most of it is just muscle gain, he is not a ‘fat’ player. However, with all this muscle he has lost a huge quality about himself, his sudden burst of pace, his acceleration over small distances.
I saw him the other day, against Everton. He looked nothing like himself, looked well short of confidence for instance. He did not lack effort though, constantly putting tackles in. What was interesting though was him struggling to get past players, he would do the ‘Wilshere turn’ and yet a second later the defender comes back and gets the ball. This can only be attributed to a clear lack of pace. His strength and holding of the ball has improved significantly, however, his turn of pace seemed gone.
He still has that killer instict for a pass and no doubt his goals for Enlgand and also Arsenal have been beauties that buttress his undoubted ability. However, his lack of game time and injuries have left him rusty and way below the pecking line at Arsenal, especially in midfield, leading to him playing on the wings just to be accommodated. Many fans were pissed off when news broke about a possible loan spell to Bournemouth.
Rejected bids from Palace, Roma and Milan to name a few stunned a lot of Arsenal fans even more and a loan to Bournemouth ensured Wilshere becoming a player of great ridicule in Social media. So why Bournemouth?
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Another article here on GT suggested Eddie Howe as a possible successor to Wenger. As far-fetched as it may sound, Howe has gone about doing a fantastic job lifting Bournemouth 3 divisions and playing the style of football that Wenger demands. Something from a personal view point is his indulgence in British talent. While Arsene tried and looks to have failed for the most part of the British core, I feel Howe’s appointment could help England in the long run, something I am desperate to see.
Another factor like already mentioned is Bournemouth’s style of play. A comparison of Arsenal and Bournemouth stats just show Bournemouth as a poor man’s Arsenal last season. With the players he had to build a team and play the way they play, Eddie Howe deserves incredible amount of respect. As can be seen below the stats are similar, even though Arsenal are obviously better, Bournemouth are no slouches in an attacking viewpoint.
So what can be done about the Wilshere conundrum? Personally I believe he is at the perfect club, where his workload is being balanced immensely well, where he is their biggest player, where just his presence has created an aura in the team. Regular game time in midfield will help him a lot and hopefully brings back the Jack of old. Here is hoping our midfield has him from next season on till he retires, the gargantuan talent i.e Jack Wilshere.