I have not been around much nor have I written much but since my interview with the Bournemouth blogger about Wilshere, Jack had been on my mind. Yesterday I noted he had played 5 consecutive 90 minutes in the Premier League for the first time in 4 years, apparently. Today I heard the AFC Bournemouth Chairman, Jeff Mostyn, waxing lyrical about ‘our’ Jack on breakfast radio.
I was driving at the time and unable to jot down what Mostyn was saying word but suffice to say it would have been difficult for him to speak in any more glowing terms. He insisted that not only were the first team players were learning from Wilshere every day in training and in matches but even Eddie Howe and his coaching staff. According to Mostyn he has been working harder than any of his peers to get back to his full peak fitness and is the first on and last off the training pitch each day. He went on to say that Wilshere in the past month has been amazing and his performances have made Bournemouth a better team and suggested that it was widely acknowledged that Jack was the finest English passer of a football playing the game.
Of course all this praise comes on the back of Howe speaking out ahead of the clash between his team and Arsenal at the Emirates the week before last when his team had to cope without him.
“His quality on the ball, his technical ability, is second to none and I think he is so comfortable he’s made us a totally different team with the ball.”
The above was what Howe told Sky Sports and I for one, am not about to argue with him. With Jack Wilshere it was always a question of attitude and fitness and NEVER a question of his ability. Although I know some Arsenal fans have questioned his ability too. Perhaps they only look at the gaols and assists columns at Bournemouth and ignore the fact that up until the Arsenal game he created 17 gaol scoring chances for the Cherries in the Premier League. Not bad for an individual playing in a deeper midfield role.
On Sunday, when Bournemouth did Arsenal a huge favour in mounting a rousing come back, to beat Liverpool, Wilshere from what I saw in the highlight, heard from the pundits and have read, was at the heart of everything. He was winning 50/50s, was biting in the tackle, driving with the ball and initiating breaks and moves with incisive passing and by beating the first man. The latter is something Arsenal have missed without Cazorla at the heart of the team.
Comparisons will be made between the 2 diminutive Gunners. More so now that Santi is out for a further 3 months. Not because there may be calls for Jack to return early but because the Spaniard, 32 next birthday, is yet to be offered a new deal and his current contract expires in June 2017. Cazorla is already on record a few months ago saying he would sign any new deal the club offered him. But if he is not playing again until late spring that offer, given the club’s, or Wenger’s previous attitude to players over 30 may not be a ‘gimme’.
A lot will depend on how Xhaka beds in now he seems likely to get a run in the team, something that most and want to see. The partner for the Swiss international is likely to be Coquelin on the evidence of selection for the big games to date and Elneny seems to be the alternative for either. However with Mo off The African Cup of Nations in January, Wenger may find his resources stretched with only Coquelin, Xkaka and Ramsey competing for the 2 deeper central midfield roles. The Welshman divides Arsenal supporters and it remains to be seen if Wenger yet sees Ramsey back in a deep central role.
It would however be very un -Wenger like to dip into the January transfer market to replace any of 3 players, one injured, one in Africa and one, Wilshere, on loan. For my money it is more likely Naitland-Miles will be promoted whilst Elneny is away, not least because buying would send out 100% the wrong signal to Jack Wilshere. Wenger spoke before the Bournemouth fixture about Jack showing his loyalty by signing a new deal with Arsenal while he is on loan and not waiting until the summer when he has a year remaining on his contract. January would be an excellent time for the Arsenal manager to actually spend time with his player and discuss his future. By not going into the market he will be demonstrating to Wilshere that he sees his future in the team at the Emirates and I hope he takes the opportunity to tell his player that.
If however, as reported Wenger has not maintained contact with his No.10, that conversation could be difficult. I am desperately keen to believe that the Frenchman has been in contact touch but being quoted in the newspapers saying Jack should show his loyalty seemed an awfully strange move or tactic to me. Perhaps the player might want to wait until the summer to see where he stands and indeed see who actually is to be the manager of Arsenal for 2017/18.
It is why fans asking where Jack Wilshere would fit into the present system is largely irrelevant because we don’t know what our system will be in 2017/18. No one knew in 2015/16 what systems City and Chelsea would adopt under new coaches so suggesting Wilshere does not fit into Arsenal now as many feel Ramsey doesn’t may be meaningless come the summer. I very much doubt that Oscar, William and Fabregas thought that they would struggle to get into the Chelsea side in August. Even if Wenger is too remain he might himself adopt alternate strategies or structures, (well we can dream!)
This is one Arsenal fan the fervently hopes that we do see Jack Wishere back where he belongs in the summer. Whoever is our manager I am sure that if the player has stayed fit and played well all of this season he would be a regular in our team in the next campaign. That is assuming that bridges have not been burnt on either side and that Wilshere himself wants to be part of Arsenal’s future.
It should have been his destiny from the age of 16 and at 24 it still can be….but will it?