The usual breed of Arsenal players are many things but robust is something that is doesn’t immediately spring to mind. The conventional stereotype of an Arsene Wenger player is one who is technically gifted yet decidedly lightweight. However, Wenger has a youngster in Jack Wilshere who puts this theory to the test.
We all know the qualities that Jack Wilshere possesses. He has shown himself to be a hugely composed player- one who is completely at ease in possession; a player who has excellent vision, technique and passing ability. He has been a revelation in the centre of Arsenal’s midfield, providing a creative spark both alongside and in the absence of captain Cesc Fabregas.
Wilshere has been a regular in the Arsenal set-up this season and has put in a number of key performances. He was excellent in the Carling Cup victory over Tottenham as the youngster assumed the focal point of Arsenal’s attack. In a team full of internationals, his maturity and willingness to step up to the plate has been impressive for a player so young.
But one of the most remarkable aspects to Wilshere’s game is his toughness. In the game against Tottenham, Wilshere bore the brunt of a number of robust challenges yet kept his cool in the heat of moment.
Wilshere’s steely streak may come as something of a surprise but it is put into context by his 6 month loan to Bolton during the second half of last season.
Arsene Wenger hasn’t always seen eye to eye with Bolton and their managers but he must be hugely indebted to Owen Coyle for aiding the development of Wilshere at the Reebok Stadium.
While Wilshere’s talents have never been in doubt, his temperament has been. Before he joined Bolton, there was a concern that Wilshere’s temper sometimes got the better of him. Arsenal’s head of youth development Liam Brady said that:
“We did have a few problems with him over his temper. For a couple of seasons, it was an issue we had to work hard to iron out. If he was on the receiving end of a foul, he would often react and try to take retribution in the next tackle.”
But since his loan to Bolton, Wilshere has learnt to keep his temper in check and his game has benefitted as a result. Brady went on to say:
“He was struggling to get the better of that situation but now he appears to have it under control. It made me chuckle watching some of the tackles he got hit with at Tottenham and Partizan. For a split second I thought ‘oh no’ but he kept calm and his reaction was wonderful.”
And for Wilshere’s new-found calmness, Wenger may have Bolton to thank.
Bolton have become known for their physical style of play and by exposing Wilshere to this particular brand of football week-in week-out, he has learned to develop his toughness both physically and mentally.
Indeed, Bolton manager Owen Coyle was quick to praise Wilshere’s attitude. He highlighted his resilience and maturity by recounting the youngster’s first day at training:
“He doesn’t have natural height but he can tackle and take a knock. On his first day of training, my captain Kevin Davies was very physical with him but Jack didn’t complain and got on with it and wasn’t intimidated.
“We knew he was destined for the top because he showed he could deal with that type of thing.”
There is no doubt that Wilshere has benefitted from his time at the Reebok Stadium. He has added a maturity to his game that had been otherwise lacking. With all the ability at his disposal, it seems that the sky is the limit for Wilshere as he looks to be a force for both club and country.
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