Of all the signings Arsene Wenger made last summer, the return of Jack Wilshere after more than a year off the pitch might have been his best, but the way Arsenal completely submit to his talents and his dominance in the middle of the pitch when he really shouldn’t be playing that much sometimes does more harm than good, meanwhile cancelling out players like Santi Cazrola, Mikel Arteta or anyone else who likes to play through the middle.
There’s no denying the boy is a bit special. Wilshere has the mobility, drive, fitness, courage, passing and shooting ability to be that 50-50 midfielder who takes ball from his own half and play as the playmaker from behind and behind the strikers. But there is no middle ground with him – very intense all the time, to the level of cancelling out others, who at the moment, might be just as useful to the Gunners.
Arsene Wenger keeps talking about Wilshere being overused, but that is only when it comes to national teams calling him up. After 14 months away from the game, Wenger has used Wilshere for 90 minutes in each match except for three, and the last one was because it seems he’s run his prize horse into the ground. Now, some medical advice suggests he gives the hope of not only Arsenal, but English football, which Wenger could give a rat’s ass about, a lot more rest than just one match off the squad, but Wenger is under too much pressure to follow his own advice. Hypocritical as usual – he’ll probably start Wilshere at the end of the month, hoping the international break will be enough to rest that weary body of his.
And Arsenal so bad without him? That much better with him? They’ve been inconsistent throughout the season, but not because of the midfield. The Cazorla-Arteta link worked pretty well before Wilshere returned. With a healthy Diaby, this is a pretty good unit to follow. Cazorla is just as hard of a worker as Wilshere is, but a better scorer and right now a better player; Arsenal’s MVP this season, despite currently being out of the top 4. The more serious problems have been with the defending and a striker that doesn’t score goals, Olivier Giroud.
Wilshere can only play in one mode – hyper-drive, which means he needs to be completely fit before he takes the pitch to put on another relentless 90 minutes, that sometimes leave his teammates in the dust, not really ready and knowledgeable on how to blend in with Wilshere, demanding and getting the ball on every offensive possession. Sometimes, even Aaron Ramsey might look like the player from before the injury if Wilshere isn’t on the pitch.
It’s not that Wenger should forget about him, but when you look at matches, even without him, like Arsenal’s most recent win at Swansea, you might come to realize that not having Jack Wilshere on the pitch isn’t such a bad idea.