Can Jack Wilshere force his way back into the Arsenal first-team?
There were encouraging signs against Doncaster
Jack Wilshere made his first start for Arsenal since May 2016 in Wednesday night’s 1-0 Carabao Cup win against Doncaster Rovers. It was also the first time he completed 90 minutes in an Arsenal shirt since September 2014.
There were huge hopes for the midfielder when he broke into the first-team. He famously delivered a stunning display against Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona side in 2011. However, his career has been constantly disrupted by injury.
He’s yet to make over 30 league appearances in a single season since his breakthrough campaign in 2010-11, when he was named PFA Young Player of the Year and selected in the PFA Premier League Team of the Year.
Now 25-years-old, Wilshere’s Arsenal contract expires at the end of the season. It’s now or never if he’s going to make it at the Gunners.
The Coral News Team have taken a look at whether there’s still room for him in the Arsenal team.
Aaron Ramsey and Granit Xhaka are Arsene Wenger’s current preferred midfield partnership. Both of them have their own strengths but Arsenal still badly miss Santi Cazorla’s creativity and ball retention.
Their win percentage since 2013 in games that Cazorla started is 66%. It drops to 44% when he isn’t in the starting XI.
The absence of the Spain international was one of the reasons Wenger switched to a 3-4-3 system. If he wants to return to a back four, Wilshere is the most natural replacement for Cazorla in the squad.
It may have been against lower-league opposition, but Wilshere’s quality was clear to see in the Carabao Cup.
He stretched the play by spraying the ball around. And he linked up with the attackers with cute, incisive passes.
Dribbling Days Over?
There were plenty of encouraging signs in the performance. Despite that, there is a concern that all of those injuries may have robbed him of his burst of pace.
His ability to glide past opponents was one of his biggest strengths. It was noticeable that he didn’t take a number of chances to run at Doncaster when he found himself in space.
Hopefully he’ll start to do it again when he’s built up his fitness and confidence further. Without those dribbling skills, he’s a less effective player.
Time to Grab His Chance
Wilshere will likely need more playing time in the Europa League before he’s ready for Premier League action.
Even then, he’ll probably have to wait for an injury to Ramsey or Xhaka, or a change of approach, to get a run in the team.
Arsene Wenger is a huge fan of Wilshere but the midfielder will need to impress quickly when he’s given a chance in the top flight.
Of course, he’ll need to show that his fitness can be relied on too. The club can’t plan around someone who’s constantly out of action.
He’s running out of time to prove he has a future at the Emirates.
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