Does Jack Wilshere have a future at Arsenal?
With the 2017-18 Premier League season about to kick off, Arsenal fans once again want to know the future of injury-hit midfielder Jack Wilshere. Will The Gunners’ star stay, leave on loan or even get a game for Arsene Wenger?
It’s a familiar story for Arsenal fans. Yet again Jack Wilshere finds himself battling back to fitness after another injury, with talk rife of whether The Gunners will keep hold of him and if his place in the first XI is guaranteed. The spotlight has been on the talented midfielder, a boyhood fan of the club, ever since he made his Premier League debut as a 16-year-old. But, now in his mid-twenties, what does his Arsenal future hold?
In the summer of 2016 Wilshere took the decision to spend a season away from The Emirates, to play regular Premier League football on loan at Bournemouth. The season before he’d made just one league start after a lengthy recovery from a broken leg. It was the second time Jack had been on loan, following his successful six-month stint at Bolton in 2010. Back then he was just a teenager trying to establish himself as a Premier League player. Last season’s spell at the Vitality Stadium, however, was designed to prove his fitness and that he’d lost none of his legendary touch, vision and creativity after a succession of ankle, foot and leg injuries. Judge for yourself whether the loan worked out or not.
Wilshere made 27 Premier League appearances for The Cherries, with five of those games coming from the bench. He failed to score and also recorded two assists. His league game count was his highest since he clocked up 35 matches in 2010-11 and only 14 short of what he’d managed in total over the previous three seasons. Jack racked up an impressive 20 league games in a row, not counting the games against Arsenal that he was ineligible for, and seemed to finally be over his injury nightmare. But then, ironically, a challenge with Tottenham hero Harry Kane broke Wilshere’s leg and his season came crashing to a halt in mid-April. He’s now recovering his fitness as the debate rages on whether he will, or rather should, get a game back at Arsenal in 2017-18.
Gunners’ manager Arsene Wenger has already stated Wilshere’s in his plans this season, but experts and fans are not convinced. The club’s well stocked in midfield, with Wenger on the lookout for new defenders and forwards rather than strengthening the middle of the park. In 2016-17, youngster Alex Iwobi made 26 Premier League outings, scoring three goals and mixing it in the Champions League against the likes of PSG and Bayern Munich. Francis Coquelin also proved what a reliable defensive midfielder he can be. The £35 million signing of Granit Xhaka was more hit and miss, but Wenger hopes his all-round midfield class will shine through in his second Premier League campaign and justify his price tag. Throw in the likes of quality internationals Mesut Ozil, Aaron Ramsey and, if he stays, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, then Wilshere has a massive fight to feature on the team sheet. With no Champions League distractions this season, Arsenal hope to fly out of the blocks in August and set a pace at the top of the league. The Gunners are seen as outsiders for the title by 888sport, but they have done no harm to their chances whatsoever with the signing £46 million striker Alexandre Lacazette. A settled midfield selection could already be in place by the time Wilshere’s fully fit, which may leave him picking up minutes in the Europa League and domestic cups.
There’s no denying Wilshere’s talent and indeed his love for the North London club. Lesser players may have thrown in the towel years ago and moved to a smaller team to duck out of the pressure and spotlight. The 25-year-old seems to have the right mentality now, following some off-the-pitch incidents he’s been involved with in the past, and it simply comes down to his ability to stay fit. It will be a surprise if another team wants to buy or loan him in the summer transfer window. But come January Wilshere could once again be looking to leave The Emirates, especially with a World Cup finals in 2018. The wonder of Wilshere continues.