England midfielder faces fight to regain place at Arsenal
In past seasons, news that midfielder Jack Wilshere was struggling with injuries would have left Arsenal fans fearing their chances of picking up silverware at the end of the campaign were seriously dashed.
After bursting onto the scene at club and international level in 2010, the 21-year-old went on to spent 17 months in the treatment room following an injury to his ankle sustained during a pre-season friendly in the summer of 2011.
Wilshere has stayed relatively injury-free since re-establishing himself in the Arsenal team 12 months ago, but missed the 2-0 win over Liverpool in the Premier League and is expected to miss the Champions League Group F match against Borussia Dortmund in Germany with the Gunners priced up at odds of 4/1 to emerge victorious.
However, the England man’s absence will not be nearly as keenly felt as in recent years as even a fit Wilshere has been rested and played out of position at times this term.
The Arsenal midfield has suddenly become rather crowded, with Mathieu Flamini practically guaranteed his place in one of the two central roles and Wilshere, Mikel Arteta and Aaron Ramsey fighting it out to partner the Frenchman.
Former Everton playmaker Arteta has won that battle more often than not this season and Ramsey and Wilshere have been pushed further forward onto the wings with Theo Walcott, Lukas Podolski and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain all still out with injury problems.
The move has suited Ramsey, whose six strikes so far this term mean the Welshman is guaranteed to have his most prolific ever goal-getting campaign, but Wilshere has found life more difficult on the left wing and has contributed just two goals and a single assist in nine Premier League appearances.
The Stevenage native is still young and his boss Arsene Wenger will no doubt be relieved that Arsenal do not rely on the former Luton youth as much as in the past.
However, with recent pressure also coming on his place in the national side ahead of the World Cup, Wilshere will once again have to prove himself indispensable for club and country or risk losing out on Arsenal and England glory.