A few interesting debates on Twitter yesterday on the Wilshere revelations which I have to say were no surprise to me. I have never believed he wanted or demanded to be loaned, merely accepted that his Manager would not offer him the playing time to recover full fitness and form in 2016/17. Others of course will chose to believe alternative versions of events, which is their perogative but I assure you my contention is born of no agenda, either pro-Jack or anti-Arsene.
What I am vexed enough to jot a few thoughts down on though, is the current stance from the ‘club’ on Wilshere’s new contract. I think earlier in the campaign the player was close to accepting the lower wages with performance and fitness incentives to get him back to a salary appropriate for his age, experience and talent. However, for whatever reason Jack did not, as Wenger so glibly put it ‘find his pen’ and in the interim, in Jack’s mind at least and in the mind of many fans, if not all, things have changed – the proverbial goal posts have moved.
Wilshere, ironically, has got fitter and fitter and that combined with injuries to others has seen the England star gain more and more pitch time. He is by no means a guaranteed starter when all are fit but nor is anyone displeased or concerned when he is in the team. He is not yet setting the world alight and nor is he at all letting anyone down. Edu was not a guaranteed starter in the 2002 Double winning team, nor so in the Invincible team, but we all loved him and he was integral to those successes. So, whilst I am not blinkered to his current limitations, neither am I blind to his unique attributes. The burst of pace away from a man is not there consistently but his wonderful passing and vision is present as is the attribute, only there in the very best, to know what he wants to do before receiving the ball. And of course the thing he wants to do is invariably forwards with momentum. In short though, he is not a guaranteed starter but he is a guaranteed squad maker every match and most Gooners are happy for it.
The goalposts shifted once more with the Mesut Ozil signing, but I suspect more drastically with the contract on offer to Aaron Ramsey. Players talk as do agents and the media and Wilshere will know that Ramsey is rightly being offered a bumper new deal to try and tie him down before he enters the last year of his contact. Let’s get this straight before you jump on ‘this is not an article to compare the relative merits of the two long standing British Gooners’. Ramsey has earned what he is being offered and I sincerely hope, as I wrote recently that the Welshman can be convinced to stay and even take the arm band. Whilst Jack suffered set back after set back Aaron wrote his name into club folklore with two Wembley winners. Ramsey with the correct partner could be in the centre of our team for years to come and pivotal to it whilst Wilshere, at this stage, is still only pressing his claims afresh.
However, where I do have huge sympathy for the Englishman, looking at the Welshman, getting seemingly different treatment from a certain Frenchman is on the relative fitness/injury record in relation to the respective club offers to the two players. I have no argument that Ramsey should be rewarded and convinced to stay but I can also see it from Wilshere’s view point. he went away to Bournemouth and was fit, if no where near his best all of last season, until he suffered a freak broken leg that was unrelated, as I understand it, to previous injuries. This season whilst not rushed back, he has been largely available and injury free.
This season Ramsey has featured in 28 matches for Arsenal, staring only 20, whilst Wikshere has appeared on 31 occasions, starting 23 times. Add to this that Wilshere was fit and in the squad and not used off the bench on a further 6 occasions, whereas Ramsey has featured all 28 times he has been in the squad, In short Jack has been available and selected in the first team squad 37 times over Ramsey’s 28.
Last season Wilshere played in 29 of the 38 available Premier League matches, starting 25, Ramsey did not even feature in as many matches as Wilshere started in 2016/17, starting only 13 matches and coming on in 10.
We can go back further of course but surely the last two seasons are the most pertinent to consider when assessing whether either player is worth a good salary and a long term deal. The simple facts are that Wilshere has had a single injury since August 2016 and that was a broken leg. In that time Aaron Ramsey has had 32 weeks out with 5 separate injuries, 3 hamstrings and 2 calf problems (Source Transfermarkt.)
So let’s not be revisionist on our Jack. Yes he has had major problems but has been largely fit, barring a freak leg break, thanks to Harry Kane for 18 months. Ramsey deserves a cracking new deal, despite being a continual sick note in recent seasons of that there is no doubt, but is this is widely accepted then spare a thought for Wilshere and see it from his perspective. His team mate is offered more than twice what he has been asked to accept. He has to take a pay cut, having been fit and available mote than Ramsey over two seasons, whist his pal gets a bumper pay rise.
As I say we can argue about the merits of the offers, based on what each has helped Arsenal achieve in recent times and few would argue against Ramsey getting a new improved contract offer. But if that is widely accepted then you cannot in the same breath condone a reduction and pay as you go incentive deal for Wilshere. Both are Sick Notes, but both are our Sick Notes so offer then pay deals based on respective merits not on past injury history. Jack feels he has proved he is past his injury woes and evidence is on his side so let’s pay him based on his form now and get it done.