There are still those who are sure that Jack Wilshere is the savior of Arsenal & English football, but with every season and comeback attempt from injury that goes by, it’s getting clearer and clearer that the words ‘Don’t Believe the Hype‘ might be fitting the central midfielder quite well.
Wilshere is only 21, with only 76 league matches to base our opinion on him on. He missed out the entire 2011-2012 season, coming back last season after 14 months without playing. He finished last season scoring two goals and adding six assists in all competitions; not quite the production and ability of the man declared by many as the best young midfielder in the world after his Champions League performances against Barcelona.
Arsene Wenger loves talking about protecting Wilshere and keeping his minutes and playing time in check, but obviously overuses him to the point where he has to rest and recuperate from being overused every time. One of the things Wilshere has to learn is shifting gears and distributing his efforts.
Going at full speed and full effort might be a nice mantra, but that’s a bad way to bring the best of your abilities to the table, or prolong you career, which seems to be under the risk of picking up too many injuries as is.
Wilshere has only one mode, which is full steam ahead. It does make him more involved than almost any other central midfielder around the league, but it doesn’t make him more efficient. It isn’t only about his finishing, which has to improve in order for Wilshere to really take over the place of Cesc Fabregas, which he was touted to do once the Spaniard left to Barcelona two years ago, but it’s also about his tactical discipline, and not taking over for other players.
As of now, Santi Cazorla is the team’s best player, and it really showed during the early parts of the season, when Wilshere was still out and injured. Cazorla played in the attacking midfielder role, but was really free to roam wherever he wished, often sliding to the wing and allowing Mikel Arteta, Lukas Podolski and Theo Walcott more time in the middle. It seemed that the more Cazorla touched the ball, the better Arsenal looked on offense.
Bringing in Wilshere should have made things better, but it didn’t early on. Wilshere doesn’t share the load – he completely takes over, regardless of his positioning which might be as a deep-playmaker or right in the center of everything. He simply forces himself on the game instead of letting it come to him, by that cancelling out a player like Cazorla or makes Mikel Arteta completely redundant on the pitch if he’s playing as well.
Wilshere is heading into a season in which no injury is going to be an excuse. He had plenty of time to prepare himself and hopefully make the right adjustments. More tactical discipline, less absorption of everything on the pitch. A great Wilshere can make the difference from another depressing fourth place race and doing something a little bit more grandiose, although in all fairness, unless Arsene Wenger starts spending some money, it won’t matter who good Wilshere is going to be.