Arsenal‘s Jack Wilshere is finally ‘back’ from injury and we can move on from that tremendously worrying time when many might have been forgiven for thinking the worst. In fact, the way Wilshere has played since his return, you’d hardly think he was out of the game for so long.
With Wilshere, you often look at him and forget all the debates that rumble on within football: where should he play, is he better than someone else of his age, should he be captain; sometimes you just look at him and remind yourself that he’s the type of player that helps to create such a bond between fans and the game.
Wilshere is the face of this Arsenal team, in the same way Cesc Fabregas was the captain and leader of that last and unsuccessful era. There are similar qualities in both Wilshere and Cesc, and not just in terms of talent. They’re a lift to supporters and provide hope. It very much comes down to parting with your cash to go and see these players represent your club, and there’s an immense feeling of pride about them.
Everyone wants their football team to have something which builds a close connection. Wilshere is a local boy who came up through the youth system and is good enough to lock horns with the best in the world, as we’ve seen him do. What a swing it is to go from Arsene Wenger’s team of just one England player – sometimes none – to the leading name of a new generation and the brightest light on a pitch which consisted of established England internationals with plenty of trophies between them and Brazil.
Wilshere has all the heart and pride in Arsenal, and a drive to help them become something which has been a distant memory in recent years. He’s as gifted as anyone you can think of in England and he’s very much Arsenal’s own.
But people should be concerned to a degree about his fitness. Regardless of how well he’s playing, he is still in his first season back from well over a year out with injury. Wenger made his anger known last week when Roy Hodgson opted to keep Wilshere on for the entire 90 minutes, with Wenger citing burnout and the obvious fact that England vs. Brazil was a friendly. However, Wenger isn’t totally blameless in this either.
It was the Arsenal manager’s choice to go into this season with a weak midfield, where relying on Wilshere and one or two others has become the dangerous norm. A player of Wilshere’s age should never have had to play near 50 games in his first full season with the club, no matter how good he was or how impressive his partnership with Fabregas looked. Arsenal are in danger of doing it all again this season, and why? We have our opinions on the matter, and most are far too obvious. But while I agree with Wenger’s anger towards the England manager, he’s not totally blameless himself.
Yet on the brighter side – and once again, slightly dangerous – it jut offers the paying crowds exactly what they came to see. Yes, it’s about winning and making advances to the top of the league table, but sometimes that doesn’t happen. Sometimes you have to be aware of the other positives in the game, and Wilshere has been an incredible distraction from what has been a grim past few years for Arsenal.
He’s been continuously hailed as the closest thing to Paul Gascoigne, while Steven Gerrard said “it’s scary how good he could be.” High praise for a youngster with only one full season at the highest point in English football. But as I mentioned, sometimes you don’t need to go into comparisons and discussions about being one of the best in the world.
When you pick up one of those albums –and you should know exactly what I mean when I say one of those albums – you don’t think of it as being the best ever or able to surpass Thriller, or Rumours, or Dark Side of the Moon. You just sit back and enjoy. And that’s exactly the way Wilshere should be treated.