FITTING JACK WILSHERE BACK INTO THE ARSENAL TEAM by Uche
Like many of you, I was quite anxious and somewhat excited seeing Jack Wilshere on the pitch again in our game against Hull City. He is different from all our other midfielders. Wilshere is an all action dribbling type. Unfortunately for him, Arsenal has evolved beyond that type of football. There was a time we would have been counting down to the day Wilshere makes his comeback but today, many argue that he can only ever be a bit part player at most. On current form, they have a point. But it doesn’t have to be that way. With more work on his style of play and decision making, Wenger can update and upgrade him to fit into our already formidable midfield.
And on this subject, I believe there are four main areas of his game that needs work. But first let us begin by looking at his stats to understand why things have to change with him. Jack Wilshere is our attacking midfielder with the least number of goals and assists. He also gets injured the most. This doesn’t leave him in good stead compared with our other midfielders, who are all ahead of him. So lesson number one, Wenger must work on his runs.
Jack Wilshere reminds me of a budding super hero in Professor Xavier’s school of mutants. He is that guy with a lot of talent who is yet to harness all he has within him to make him more effective and decisive. Wilshere makes a run and attempts an unnecessary dribble when a simple pass will do. Unfortunately for him, the Maradona era is over. No longer will opponents stand still and admire you while you embark on a mazy dance through their players like a floating ballerina. The era of excessive dribbling is over. Football has gotten simpler and tougher. Today, if the opponent cannot get the ball from you, they will foul you. But no longer will they watch you play Maradona against their manager’s instructions.
In our game against Hull, Cazorla made a genius pass to Ramsey from deep that cut out the entire Hull midfield and landed on Ramsey’s feet. Rambo instantly converted for goal number two. If that were Wilshere, he would have carried the ball and started dribbling on his way to nowhere, because he will surely get stopped by getting fouled. Here is another example. For Sanchez’s second goal, Ramsey made a clever pass that cut out two to three Hull City players. Sanchez rounded the goal keeper and buried goal number three. Wenger must instruct Wilshere to pass first and only dribble when it is absolutely necessary. When he does that, our game will be faster, less predictable and more efficient. It is no coincidence that we do better when Jack doesn’t play. The stats don’t lie.
Lesson number two, Jack Wilshere needs to stop inviting fouls. It cuts our attack short and is ruining his career. Jack Wilshere is Arsenal’s most fouled player and yet, he is not our only dribbler. Cazorla, Ozil and Ox are all very good dribblers but they all get it done effectively without drawing fouls. Jack must anticipate getting fouled and release the ball early. And he has to avoid getting too close to the opponent. They have figured him out and bring him down every single time. He doesn’t seem to have learned from it. Maybe his need for personal glory just outweighs his desire to stay away from the treatment table. When Jack plays, his priority is looking good first before playing for the team. He is a ball hugger and Wenger doesn’t like that. Arsene has spent months trying to cure Sanchez (another ball hugger) of that habit. Why dribble when you can make a pass? The whole idea of dribbling is to get away from tight situations when you get cornered by one or more opponents. But when a clear pass presents itself, make the pass! Wenger must get Wilshere to get with the programme. This is exactly why Wilshere plays well often times and we still lose the game. Those days are over. The team comes first. We play to win. Personal glory is only acceptable when it doesn’t jeopardize team efficiency.
Lesson number three, Jack must learn when to release the ball. His decision making in the final third is lacking. Yes he looked good when he came into to pitch at Hull and made a mesmerizing run through the Hull defense but to what end? He got brought down as always and that run was ultimately meaningless. That is my point. Jack’s dribbling reminds me a bit of Manny Paquiao’s fight against Mayweather. Lots of punches thrown by Manny but only landing nineteen percent of it. Efficiency is key to football excellence. Wilshere must learn when to release the ball. Ozil, Cazorla, Rosicky and even Ramsey should serve as role models for him because on current form, he is behind them.
Finally, Jack must start scoring goals. I know that this might seem controversial because not all midfielders can score goals. Unfortunately for Wilshere, the competition for places is fierce and he is an attacking midfielder. The midfielders who create and score goals will always be preferred to him and this is partly why Aaron Ramsey, a box to box midfielder is preferred to Theo Walcott on the wings even though Ramsey is not a winger. Ramsey simply offers more than Walcott when all things are put into consideration. So I was glad to see Wilshere finally get on the pitch and get some minutes. Nobody in this team says Arsenal DNA like Jack Wilshere. But if he is to come off the bench regularly, he must up his game significantly or Wenger will soon realize that he is more of a liability than an asset. Peace.