Not long to go now. And you sense that, finally, Arsenal will hit the season running and take it by storm. There’s winners there. There’s a new, improved approach to fitness. Broken players are returning ever stronger. The belief is sky high. Rival winners are crossing the river. All of it points to success and hunger. And funnily enough my pick for the Arsenal players to keep a tab on throughout this coming season are all injury ravaged, and have all returned with added steel and aggression. They are also all English, which also shows where the talent of our nation really lies, despite what Harry Kane, Wayne Rooney and Liverpool fanatics in general would say.
1) Jack Wilshere
You only have to look at England’s recent fixture to see that England and Arsenal’s future lies with Jack Wilshere, who is better than he’s ever been, no longer the brittle gem, but now growing into a solid diamond. So, we’ll start with the golden boy, then.
His career has been halted by half-seasons and no-seasons, only really having one full season under his built – way back when he burst onto the scene and showed Barcelona up. But with Arsenal’s new super German working his magic on all of our broken players, Wilshere and Co. are so far reaping the benefits with no signs of sluggishness or past wounds. You’d also like to think that had Jack not been so ruined in his early years he’d be leading the team out every week now. No.10 on the back, English, aggression, he’s the Captain Wenger’s always dreamed of bringing through the youth. He’ll have a lot to shout about this year and next. He’s been shifted to the wings following Coquelin’s resurgence, and since Ramsey is pretty much irreplaceable, and Mezut Ozil has to start…because he’s Mezut Ozil, it’s difficult to fit Wilshere into a midfield that’s become quite brilliant. Add Santi to the mix and you’ve got a headache-inducing dilemma. Then there’s all this talk of a new defensive midfielder, so it’s a massive season for Jack. Everybody knows he’s the best player on the pitch when he’s in tune and firing away, it’s just getting him to stay that way that’s always been his and Arsenal’s Achilles heel. We’ve had this wonder-kid for a few years now and we’re yet to see him truly take centre stage, which is infuriating for all parties. I think he’ll occupy one of the wings for the start of the season, for now, at least. But having said that, we don’t want an injury purely to reinstate Wilshere back into the middle, because despite his talents, one great player replacing another doesn’t push the team forward. Wenger’s got some tinkering to do. Santi is hitting the end of his good years now, which is helpful in the sense of allowing the younger players to take up priority. But again, wishing Santi away would be wishing away a player that dominates this league quite regularly, and when on form, is an orchestrator few can match.