Arsenal’s Golden Boy: Is He Finally Arriving At A Good Place In His Career?

“Jack Wilshere is a lion on his day and the lamb it chases on all other days.” This is a line spoken by no one in particular, but has been proven time and again by Wilshere himself. On Saturday, Wilshere put all his critics to shame with yet another remarkable performance garnering praise from his manager and more importantly from the fans. The only doubt that remains is whether he could keep up the good performance or will it all fizzle out like always.

England has had the reputation of producing the most players who look destined to be world beaters when they arrive on the scene but soon fade away unable to live up to the hype. Francis Jeffers, Owen Hargreaves and David Bentley from a few years back and Tom Cleverley and Jack Rodwell in the near past are all testimonies for the claim. Wilshere has been on the verge of adding his name to this tally, staying away thanks to those few occasional glimpses of magnificence he comes up with once in a while. But it is still fair to say that Wilshere has not yet CONSISTENTLY lived up to his potential, the stress rightfully being on ‘consistently’.

Unlike his Arsenal teammate Aaron Ramsey who has had to overcome several odds to reach the level he is currently at, Wilshere has always gone for the bad boy image and therefore only has him to blame so far. Taking a look at Wilshere & Ramsey’s performances during the 2013-14 season, shows that Wilshere is a better creator and dribbler but has been reckless and the goals have not come as he would have liked; Wilshere’s smoking habits and discipline issues inside and outside the field has been his major undoing over the years and has contributed largely to this inconsistency in his performances that have drawn flaks from all corners.

But still at 22, Wilshere still has time to mend his ways and to answer his critics and having Ramsey both as a competition and as an inspiration should help him. Ramsey has had to face hurdles of varying magnitude and still had the support of the club, and he paid them back with his hard work and determination. Wilshere’s potential has burdened him with the pressure to perform, but with the support he has within the Arsenal camp he can do exactly what Ramsey has done in the near past. And by the likes of his last few performances it seems like he is up to the task.

In the absence of the suspended Ramsey in the second leg of the Champions League qualifiers against Besiktas, Wilshere stepped up his game and was Arsenal’s unsung hero as he acted as the driving force from the midfield, pulling the strings behind all of Arsenal’s best moves upfront. But despite his clinical performances, it was disappointing to see critics scrutinize his few defensive errors rather than the significant role he played in Arsenal’s hard fought victory. But rather unusually, he has kept his composure despite the needless criticism and has put up a string of decent performances for England last week and Arsenal yesterday; positive signs that he is finally maturing.

The one final question that needs to be figured out on Wilshere though is whether he should be deployed in the holding midfielder role as he did for England in the last couple of matches. Even though he has been decent enough in a position relatively new to him, he has looked more comfortable as a box-to-box midfielder. In the match against City he made 10 dribbles himself, which was more than Ramsey (0), Ozil (4) and Sanchez (4) combined and David Silva (4), Jesus Navas (3) and Sergio Aguero (2) combined [Stats credits: Whoscored.com], and to curb such attacking intent would not be fair on him.

The case of Anderson at Manchester United is a reminder how bad cutting off the attacking aspect of a central midfielder with great potential to make him a defensive midfielder can turn out to be; as he soon stumbled from being a potential star to an outcast at United. Wilshere has shown that level of composure, which he lacks while defending, whenever he goes on the attack- evident from that slick finish against Manchester City this week; and to play such a player in a defensive role even if he tries his best would be insane.

With the likes of Jordan Henderson and Fabian Delph now in the English squad, Roy Hodgson and future managers can afford to play him in a more attacking role just like Arsene Wenger has done with him at Arsenal. After all, time and again Wilshere has proved that he might not be the best anchor in the team but he is indeed the sailor that can calmly guide the team through the toughest icebergs of opposition defense; and the signs are such that he looks set to be the bloody best at that.

Written by Dinesh V

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

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