Young Guns Column: Wilshere’s Improvements Are Superb But Be Wary Of Arteta


I’ll start off by saying I told you so. Previously I stated how Wilshere needed to improve this year, I wasn’t alone. However, despite those in the media that stated he had gone backwards and has lost his place in the first-team, I kept confidence that he would improve this year. I was right.

Admittedly, I’ve never been a constant admirer of Wilshere. His talent is of course undeniably but I, like many others, was concerned about his growing ‘bad-boy’ reputation. Fortunately, things look like they’re improving.

Against Manchester City, Jack Wilshere was the star of the show. The focus was on others but Wilshere stepped up and shone throughout the game in all aspects. He scored, got an assist and orchestrated numerous attacks for his side.
At the back, he was present to help out in defensive duties and put in some key tackles, all of which is superb to see.

Wilshere needed to focus on his football this year and so far he has. He’s stated he wants to learn how to play a deeper role, which will undoubtedly fill a void in the Arsenal team but he has shown just how good he is in attack- which makes you wonder whether he’d be wasted in a deeper role.

The English midfielder hadn’t scored since January, which was an unforgettable goal against Norwich City. His goal against City wasn’t as great but it was still superb. Deft passes, an eye for the gap in a defence and a perfect finish. Just what the doctor ordered.

So now Arsenal are left with a problem. A five man midfield and five stars, seems ideal- but it isn’t. Wilshere on the left is a possibility but he’ll need work. Mesut Ozil simply cannot play there- but he’s simple too good to drop, so you HAVE to play him in position. Which in turn would mean no central role for Wilshere.

While I’m pretty sure Wilshere could do a decent role in defensive midfield, I truly believe it would be a waste. I have evidence for this in the form of Mikel Arteta. Things were a lot different when the Basque midfielder first arrived at Arsenal, for starters he played an entirely different position. He was a key figure in the midfield and the attack- fond memories include a blistering free-kick against Aston Villa.

Arteta, like Wilshere, also scored a superb goal against Manchester City but now he’s dropped far deeper. He’s first-choice as Arsenal’s defensive midfielder and he does a pretty good job but he’s nowhere near as good or efficient as he used to be in attack. Yes, he’s aging but it’s a shame.

What we can’t do is let the same happen with Wilshere. Obviously Jack is a lot younger and can adapt to a deeper role in time but it would be a waste, in my eyes. This is a player who in his youth abused the Barcelona midfield that included the likes of Andres Iniesta and Xavi.

Wilshere has the defensive capabilities, the desire and the physicality to play the defensive role but just look at his attacking performance against City- do you really want to lose that?

He would still have chances to go forward from that position but they would be extremely limited. We have a squad full of attacking stars and they occupy the starting line-up, even the full-backs fly forward- which usually means three players are left at the back.

For that reason, the defensive midfielder has to be exactly that, defensive. You can’t expect them to contribute regularly to the attack, unless we’re going gung-ho for the victory in the closing stages.

Wilshere’s improving and his all-round play is thrilling, but let’s not lose him to defensive duties. He’s too good for that.

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