With Francis Coquelin out injured and Mohammed Elneny heading to the African Cup of Nations this month, the Gunners midfield is starting to look very bare. That has given Arsene Wenger food for thought.
Quizzed on his options in midfield pre-Preston, Wenger was asked if he regretted allowing Wilshere to leave on loan to Bournemouth in the summer: “Yes, I could use him now.” Wenger responded.
But the Arsenal manager did not go as far as to say he entirely regretted the decision, rightly pointing out that until now, Arsenal did have many options in central midfield.
“But if he had not played until now, he would not be ready to play now. What looks unfair at some moments in the season is that you know at some stage you could need the player.” Wenger continued.
“But even at the start you need to have the right balance between competition and numbers and chances for the player to play. And still today I think it was the right decision for him to go.”
As much as Arsenal would have benefitted from having Wilshere now, it is hard to see that the Englishman would have been happy to see his game time restricted for half the season and only played regularly when injuries mounted. Arsenal could not forsee both Cazorla and Coquelin being out with long term injuries whilst Elneny was away on international duty. Mesut Ozil has also been out with flu, meaning central options at the club have been frustratingly short.
Now against Preston on Saturday, Arsene will want to refresh him starting eleven, but in central midfield, if he is to select a senior duo, he will have to opt for Aaron Ramsey alongside Granit Xhaka. An injury to either player though, could cause Wenger serious problems for the rest on January whilst he waits for Coquelin and Cazorla to recover.