1.61 Tackles & 1.58 Interceptions/Game – Is He The Man For Arsenal To Play The Holding Midfielder Role?


Jack Wilshere

Despite being only 22 years it feels like Jack Wilshere has been playing football for a very long time. After his first team debut in 2008, a large amount of club and national expectations has been placed on the youngster. Wilshere was so good in 2010 that Capello changed the entire English set up in order to simply fit Wilshere into the team even though senior players like Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard were available in the central midfield position. After an excellent performance against Scotland in the previous weekend there have been several questions over whether Arsene Wenger has correctly utilized Wilshere at Arsenal. Jack Wilshere recently said that he would prefer the holding midfielder role over the central midfielder position.  Though Wenger’s all attacking mind set would hate the idea of a creative player like Wilshere playing in the deeper position, Arsenal’s woeful form would require some quick rethinking from Arsene Wenger. If Arsenal plays Wilshere in a defensive midfield position would take away the creative hub of the team as a result of which Wenger needs to tweak the formation to fit Wilshere into the role of a deep lying playmaker.

Wilshere’s main strengths are his movement, passing, vision and combination play. A certain Italian who excels at the deep lying midfielder role had similar strengths when he was converted into a deep lying midfielder during his time at Brescia under Carlo Mazzone. Jack Wilshere’s vision is highlighted by his superb assist for the Oxlade-Chamberlain goal against Scotland. Considering WhoScored stats we can see that Wilshere consistently makes some key passes in the game, in the time frame of 2012-2014 he has made an average of 1.65 key passes per game.

If Wenger used this creativity to supply pacy wingers like Walcott and Chamberlain from deep midfield then Arsenal can play a really high tempo game that Arsene craves for. In the same period he also averages around 2.05 dribbles per game which is excellent for a central midfielder. This technical ability can be made more fruitful if Wilshere was to carry the ball from deep midfield to the opposition half and retain possession. Presently, Wilshere plays in an advanced position but the lack of a good holding midfielder has resulted in the ball not being brought into the final third by the Arsenal midfielders. Though Ozil was brought to add the creative impetus into the Arsenal team it hasn’t gone too great for him or Arsenal. Thus the pressure to perform has been dumped on their super star signing Alexis Sanchez who needs to create as well as score for Arsenal.

Wilshere’s excellent pass percentage is another reason to play him in the holding role. It’s extremely important for a deep lying midfielder to retain possession and make sure there are no way ward passes. With an average of 85.13% successful passes per game Wilshere ticks one of the most important attributes of a deep lying midfielder. Though it is less compared to certain La Liga midfielders it is a very good pass percentage for a Premier League midfielder. Arsenal fans have been begging for defensive midfielder for quite some time. Though Flamini is a good squad player he has been unable to stop the flow of goals, this is also complemented by some terrible defending by Arsenal defenders. After the latest defeat against Manchester United, it is of utmost importance to sort out this defence. According to WhoScored stats Wilshere has made 1.61 tackles per game and he has also made 1.58 interceptions per game. These stats show that Wilshere can play a decent role in cutting out service to the opposition striker which is an important attribute of a deep lying midfielder.

After Arsenal’s devastating defeat against United at Emirates it is extremely important for Wenger to tweak his team in order to fix the leaky defence and the inept attack. Though playing Monreal as CB is clearly not helping his defence, Wenger also needs to fix his midfield as it is way too easy to go past this midfield. Despite Wilshere repeatedly saying that he prefers to play in the holding role Wenger’s stubbornness refuses to play him in that position. Wenger needs to try and get the best out Wilshere as he is their best midfielder and the player who can turn around Arsenal’s season for which, Wenger needs to take a more pragmatic approach and play him to his strengths.



Written by Dinesh V

Co-founder of Soccersouls. Living a start-up life 24/7
Follow @dineshintwit

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