Is Wilshere’s England Pirlo role stopping Arsenal DM transfer?

When Roy Hodgson first started using the Arsenal and England international star Jack Wilshere as his deepest lying midfielder, a lot of us thought the England boss had lost the plot. We had always seen young Jack as a box to box player or even a number 10 where his ability to burst past players would be most useful.

That was a very important game for the three lions as well, away to their biggest group rivals Switzerland, and so it was a big risk but one that has paid off for Hodgson. England won the game 2-0 and Wilshere played well. Not well enough to convince his club manager though, because Arsene Wenger dismissed the idea that Wilshere could fill the same role for Arsenal.

But I wonder if the Frenchman is starting to change his mind after Wilshere has continued to grow into the role to such an extent that he was the talk of the football media after his performance against Slovenia was capped by two stunning goals. And that meant a 6th Man of the Match award from Jack’s last seven England appearances.

As shown in a Sky Sports report, those goals were just the gloss on his game. His passing stats were the best of the England midfielders and at over 91 percent they suggest that he really is learning to be more like a Xabi Alonso or an Andrea Pirlo as he said he was trying to do when first starting to play the role on the international stage.

Wilshere said last year, “There is a lot more to come from me in that position, but the more I watch players like that, the quicker I will learn. I have been watching Xabi Alonso on video in the past couple of weeks. He had a record number of passes in one game, nearly 200 in one match, which is ridiculous. Watching players like him and Andrea Pirlo, you learn how clever they are, how intelligent they are on the ball.”

He also put in a strong defensive shift, making more tackles and interceptions than any of his team mates. So with Wenger already having the brilliant Francis Coquelin to call on, perhaps he is now looking at Wilshere as an alternative when he wants the Gunners to be more positive, perhaps playing against a team that will defend deep and be hard to break down. Is this why the Arsenal transfer rumours linking us with central midfielders like Schneiderlin have become a lot less frequent? And if so, will it work for Arsenal?

Tags Alonso Hodgson Wenger


  1. Wilshere is a good player with huge potential. We haven’t seen all from Him as He is still learning as we all know. But I still want another ‘DM’. I mean a typical DM that will sit back in those tough away games. We all see how Coquelin sits back’ reads the game, intercepts and decide not to go forward all the time. He allows Cazorla push a bit… I don’t feel we have another player like COQuelin in the team….Wilshere can do a ‘Pirlo’ like the article reads but we don’t know if that will work out or not. I just hope we get another ‘DM’…

    1. What world class DM is going to sit on the bench or do you want Coquelin to sit on the bench?

      Or what are you expecting?

      1. Exactly Mems. Whilst everyone is dreaming of a cosy arrangement where Coquelin and say a Schneiderlin can rotate and stand-in for each other – in the real world it ain’t gonna happen. Either we get someone demonstratively better than Coq and let him go or stick with what we have and rely on Arteta for a season and further develop Chambers and maybe Bielik (but I am pretty sure he is not ear-marked for a holding DM role).

        If you don’t believe it then try this: without googling, name the back-up players for all the guys we have been interested in or have been linked with eg: Kondogbia, Imula, Krychowiak, Martinez, Bender etc. Or maybe make it easier and bring it closer to home and look at the quality of the CDM back-up in the PL at Chelsea, City, United and Liverpool – answers on a postcard – Obi Mikel, Fernando, pass and haven’t a clue.

        Barcelona are the only team I can think of off the top of my head with 2 top class CDM options in Busquets and Mascherano – but even there it is not so much of a problem as they generally both play with JM playing in defence so playing time not an issue.

        To exaggerate the point – look at Chelsea’s GK position, even the mighty Mou appears unable to keep an equivalent quality option as back-up.

        1. Asking a bit much for people to start naming the squad players of teams like Sevilla and Marselle don’t you think? It’s difficult to name the 2nd choice for those clubs more because naming the first 11 is hard enough for many.

          But kondogbia has toulanlan, Martinez has Lahm/Schweiny/Alonso, Bender has Sahin/Gundogan. You named Chelsea and City’s options and for United you missed Carrick (and failed to acknowledge United are searching for another holding mid ala Schneiderlin/Gundagon) while Liverpool finished 6th so why they were used is beyond me.

          So all in all your idea Coquelin shouldn’t be challenged with a quality transfer is moot. In the “real world” as you coined it, every top club (important factor here akin to money and capability) has 2 quality options for each position. Just why you feel Coquelin and someone we all accept as ‘not good enough’ in Arteta/flamini is the solution for the DM spot is anyones guess.

          You talk of someone cosy arrangement people are expecting if we sign a schneiderlin or similar, you’re missing the point entirely. By signing schneiderlin you safe guard the quality of the person playing in the DM role as it’s a straight fight between 2 quality players. You don’t protect 1 good player by having a guy who can never take his place when fit and ready – that’s very much NOT the real world in elite level sport.

          1. All good stuff. Good to see we can happily co-exist in our own parallel universes. Did I miss Carrick – don’t think so? Who is he a stand-in for – thought he was clearly their No.1 option. And isn’t he coming up to 34 years old – of course they need a younger option. Having a 34 year old as back-up makes sense to me. If only we had an old 30 something pro with no legs but decent, experienced ballplayer to stand in for us – oh wait….

            Schweinstieger and Sahin as holding CDMs – you sure? Lahm can fill in but he is not otherwise keeping Martinez out of the team. Maybe we should go for Toulanlan if he is as good as Kondogbia.

            And I am not advocating what should happen – I am giving an opinion as to what will happen. This opinion will be proved either right or wrong in due course.

            And you have been very clear and upfront in your assessment of FC – he is not good enough to hold down that 1st X1 spot for us and we need a Morgan Schniederlin or similar. As FC will not be able to provide any competition for the spot who should we consider of comparable quality for MS’s stand-in/understudy?

            1. Heard of Daley Blind? United want Schneiderlin or similar so next year they’ll go ingot he league with Carrick/Blind/X….you want us to be set with Arteta/Coquelin/Flamini. Do you not see the fault?

              Yes I’ve said many a time that imo coquelin is not as good as people currently state, yet I’ve always maintained he’s been terrific until now but that shouldn’t mean we avoid buying a player of genuine quality in a more rounded fashion for DM. Coquelin as destroyer can compete with anyone we bring in, it’s as a baller he’ll have to improve in if he wants to keep his place – either way Arsenal wins as a team.

              Yes schweiny/sahin can hold the base of midfield they’ve done it many a time. Let’s get toulalan rather than kondogbia? I think you’re getting muddled in the idea coquelin is an elite DM on the level of a Vidal….he isn’t, we need someone of that ilk in the side so coquelin can get pushed to develop into that stature of player. Having vidal and coquelin is not at all like having schneiderlin and vidal in the same squad, coquelin has plenty of rough edges to smooth in order to be a bonafide Arsenal DM. Don’t let the fact he had no competition for the spot last year suggest he’s better than he is, he’s young and has plenty to develop. Arsenal want the league and in a position like DM, we would be foolish to flat out rely on coquelin.

      2. Buy Vidal and he plays, Coquelin is used to secure games or in tandem to be more defensive in some meanwhile he learns from someone far better.

        You’re overstating Coquelins ability if you think he’s keeping Schneiderlin/Vidal on the bench, he’s quintessentially Arsenals Jon Obi Mikel – a purely destructive player who can be used to see games out and play a defensive system.

        I mean seriously, 5months in the first team and that’s just cause NOT to buy a talent like Vidal? Only Arsenal fans can come out with stuff like that I swear.

        1. Your boy Morgan is just getting better and better by the day – now pairing him up with Arturo Vidal implying comparability.

          If Vidal walks in to the team it will be at the expense of Cazorla or Ramsey or Wilshere further up the pitch. There is nothing whatsoever to suggest Vidal is a disciplined holding CDM in a 4-1-4-1 formation. “I mean seriously” – you must have seen him play.

          1. If you’re trying to tell me Vidal is more comfortable in a more advanced role in midfield you should just stop. He’s a DM with unreal technique and stamina which means he’s carved his own way of playing as a DM since being at Leverkusen.

            He gets involved with the attack but not at the expense of his teams security. This notion a DM should always remain 5 yards ahead of his CB pairing is ignorant at best. Vidals best attributes are defensive, yet he has so much ability he can add to the potency of a teams attack. How that suddenly makes him a fit for CAM is behind me.

            1. Sorry for continually being ignorant and missing the point (“your” point to be precise) – but playing one-twos with Alexis in the opposition penalty area in the Copa and being deployed at the head of Juve’s midfield diamond is not convincing me that his coaches/managers see his best position as a disciplined holding midfield player. Remaining behind the ball/line of play is not his forte. And sorry again, but playing a 4-1-4-1 does necessitate playing between the lines and not over-committing or being undisciplined. Vidal could do his business a lot more effectively sat at the base in a 4-2-3-1 – as a system it gives more licence to balance attack and defence with a pivot/partner you can trade places with, something Vidal excels at.

              1. Nothing to do with MY point of view, Vidal has always been a defensive specialist, but he’s added an attacking threat to his play as he’s matured because he’s simply that good. He wasn’t the head of the Juve midfield, despite being one of their best attacking contributors….his playing style simply lends him to getting involved further forward throughout the game. He’s always been a DM, difference is he’s not bound by the narrow constricts some fans give – which is the ignorance i refer to. The game has evolved and there’s no room at the very top for a player in midfield to only function when the team is out of possession.

                There you go with the assumption that we’ll deploy 4-1-4-1 next season…Ever consider we landed on that because our personnel dictated such in the fact our only defensive option in midfield (coquelin) cannot provide the ‘traded support’ in a deep midfield two? That’s what I’m talking about with Coquelin being one-dimensional, he’s a DM and cannot be put anywhere else.

                A base of Vidal and Rambo in a 4-2-3-1 is no less secure than what we found semi successful 2nd half of last season. Wenger has said previously he prefers the 4-2-3-1 system for the flexibility of the midfield and dominance it gives, but he’s not a moron and can only use what he has at his disposal.

                1. Charlie – This will upset you but your post above kind of re-states what I said. I am not assuming we are going with a 4-1-4-1 next year and I am fully cognisant that 4-1-4-1 was probably forced on us. But that is another discussion because FC presently plays in that system. I have said many times previously that I do not think FC is good enough nor rounded enough to play at the base of a 4-2-3-1.

                  But I stand by what I said that Vidal is not the ideal player you would deploy as a CDM in a 4-1-4-1. He would be entirely wasted. I said the same thing for Schneiderlin in exchanges with you. If Wenger reverts to a 4-2-3-1 and brings in a defensively minded CM then FC will have no useful place in the squad and he will leave.

  2. I’ve suggested Wilshere as a defensive minded player before, but I’ve turned on my own case – Wilshere is being far better in his current role. Him being as attacking minded as he is, he’s neither mentally there to become a good DM (seeing how Coquelin does not join the offense, even though we are pressing on, like vs. Swansea and Sunderland)

    We need a new DM, period.

    1. The 40 year old Pirlo role?
      No tackling, walking pace
      he won’t get injured.
      Spraying hit and hope balls all over the place.
      Plenty of time to relax and have a fag
      a few beers and a chicken salad.
      Sounds like Jack 🙂
      Jack also has 4 old Pirlo mentors
      Flamini Diaby Arteta and Rosicky.
      And Jack makes 5 🙂

  3. @ Mems, Coquelin won’t sit on the bench. He has earned himself a starting place. Having said that, Coquelin won’t be able to play all games next season due to injuries, suspension and remember we have carling cup, Fa cup, the league and champions league to play for next season. We are Arsenal and we need to step up a lot next season and try to challenge in all 4 competitions and see how far we go… You wouldn’t want a Flamini in DM in a tough away game or even in the league. If Coquelin is out, we want another DM to do the job. Some games, new ‘DM’ and coquelin could start…We all have goals for next season’ Judging by what I expect from Arsenal next season, I want to see us challenge for the league and hopefully win it, retain the FA cup will be good, pass the round of 16 in the champions league….Arsenal is a big club. We can do it!

  4. We must purchase DM to competition with coquelin!!!! All top top teams have two toptop players in same postitions!!!!!

  5. We don’t need a new team altogether… We don’t need to buy 5 or 6players and cause disharmony in the team. We need 2/3 players we NEED to add to what we have. I believe in this TEAM but there’s something lacking to spice things up….

    1. Arsene always says 1-2.
      Last season he signed
      Ospina Debuchy Chambers
      Gabriel Campbell Sanchez and Wellbeck.
      So was it 1 or 2 ?
      Did the team fall apart?
      Um no.
      Just saying 🙂

      1. But he also went into the season with only one centre back that was injured. One was still on World Cup leave and we had no replacement. No cover whatsoever. Completely unnaceptable.

        1. Yes, the CB backup thing was his biggest failing in the transfer market. His move to get Gabriel in January was a tacit admission that he messed it up. At least he recognized his mistake (albeit months too late).

          1. Well beyond that, we were in almost the exact same position a year ago as we are now. Other than replacing players that left, like Sagna and Vermaelen, we needed a DM and a striker. We didn’t get a DM. That cost us plenty of points this season until Coquelin’s emergence, and we had to panic buy Danny Welbeck on the last day because Giroud got injured. I hope Danny becomes a real top striker, I really like him, but he’s not really the quality we wanted, and still need. A useful player to have though. I don’t really trust Wenger and Gazidis in the transfer market. I trust them not to waste our money, but I don’t trust them to get what we need.

  6. I’m becoming quite concerned about our strikers.

    Man U: RVP and Rooney
    Chelsea: Costa and Falcao
    Man City: Aguero and Bony
    Arsenal: Giroud and Welbeck

    Whichever way you spin it, we’re just not on the same level. Maybe United’s strikers aren’t what they once were, but City and Chelsea’s are a cut above us. I’m starting to think a striker is no longer a just ‘important’ but vital. And no average or ‘good’ striker either, a top striker. I think Cavani is the guy that would do the business for us. Lacazzette may do it for us and is younger, but is a little unproven. It looks like Martinez has gone to Milan. Whoever it is, we don’t just need a 25 goals a season striker, we need a 25 league goals a season striker, looking at 30-35 goals in all competitions.

    1. How about spinning it so Theo is in the list of CF, Theo has had issues with his injury record recently but he was a consistant scorer for us and has still been scoring goals.

      Scoring in the FA Cup final and his hat-tricks shows he can handle the pressure.

      Theo I believe is Arsenals 2nd best finnisher, behind Podolski but Podolski looks to be leaving and doesn’t offer as much in other aspects of the game.
      Wenger said from the start that Theo will become a CF, he said he will be in that spot when he hits his prime and Wengers idea of prime age is between 26 and 28.
      The previous 2 players Wenger moved in from out wide and had done well was TH14 and RvP… not bad record of judgment by Wenger and he has made a judgment call with Theo.

      Theo could turn into a better CF than any on that list, he may be the worst, he hasn’t proven himself as a CF yet and he hasn’t exactly been given as many chances as some of us think he deserves. The few chances he is getting, well he is grabbing them with both hands, scoring and help shaping our attack into something so wonderful to watch… Other players do better with Theo upfront.

      I’ll say this now.
      If Wenger keeps his faith in Theo then I bet half of us gunners will question what Wenger is doing, the Arsene Out Brigade will be screaming as loud as their fingers can type in caps that we don’t have a CF good enough.
      It won’t be untill the end of the season that we can say and if Theo has a good season and scores enough… will he then be good enough? Or will it be a one off? Not a big money signing so next season everyone will be calling for a big name.

      No1 doubts Theos attacking capabilities as a Right AM and ability to score from out wide, why not have faith in our own player to also perform in the middle?

      1. @Midkemma

        I can see what you’re saying in regards to Walcott playing as a CF, and I’d certainly prefer him to Giroud, because Walcott’s pace and movement would cause a lot more problems. But overall, it would be a shocking decision to go with Walcott as our main CF, and not buy a new striker, and I’ll explain why.

        Now none of us know what the future holds…Walcott might be our main CF next season and bang in 35 goals or he might miss 6 months through injury. We can only gain knowledge, information and form an opinion from what has already happened…the past! So what do we already know in regards to Walcott. He’s 26 years old and has played hardly any games as a CF. To have such little experience in that role, at his currant age, is obviously a massive issue. You mentioned RVP and Henry starting out wide, but those two were playing consistently as a CF from a much earlier age. Then we have his poor injury record. He averages somewhere in the region of less than 30 games a season. If we honestly want to challenge for the big trophies, then surely we need more reliability. None of us would be surprised if he missed 3/4 months next season due to injury, and then we’d be left with Giroud, and please don’t make me say his name…Welbeck. Another issue I have, is that Walcott is very effective on the RW, which benefits the team. Wilshere and Ramsey are not wingers and just make the game even more congested, so we need Walcott to give us that width. The Ox has done very well on the RW this season, but hardly offers much in terms of a goal threat, whereas Walcott does. So why change a players postion when it could be negative for the team.

        The last thing I’ll mention on this subject, is look at other teams around Europe. All the big teams have top quality in the CF position apart from us. Like I already said, Walcott may be class as a CF, but why take that risk based on what we already know and what we badly need? Why not just play it safe, sign a top CF, and then start next season in the strongest position possible.

    2. Falcao was not with Chelsea last season. They only had Costa and managed to win the league with him. What’s more….. Giroud produced goals at a higher rate than Costa (goals and assists in all comps per #appearances). Giroud would have out-scored Costa but for his injury.

      So if Chelsea could win the league with a top striker who was behind Giroud in goal production, why cannot Arsenal do the same. The media make it seem like Costa was fantastic. Giroud was in fact statistically better.

      Also you are forgetting to add Walcott into the mix. He has shown striker ability at least. And his pace scares the bejeezes out of defenders.

      1. Did you know that because of Costas injuries, Drogba actually played more games than Costa?????

    3. These scary lists of other team’s strikers are all well and good but the comparisons are fairly artificial. RvP, Rooney, Falcao and Bony are in there for effect only as well – if you are only as good as your last season then we can’t hold them up as “fear factor” strikers. And we like Real and Barcelona (and Bayern for that matter), rely far more on the wide forwards for a contribution than the likes of City, Chelsea and United. It is daft to leave out Alexis and Walcott in these discussions on forwards and goal potency. Alexis is in there as a second forward to do one thing only – score. He is not primarily a creator and he doesn’t cross as a traditional winger. Ditto to a lesser degree Theo. You won’t hear Real talk about their goal threat and home in solely on Benzema (with 15 league goals last season) without mentioning their LAM/inside forward – I forget his name. Ditto for Barca, Suarez with 16 league goals in as many starts as OG will not be talked about in isolation without consideration to Neymar and that other guy. Maybe exaggerating the point a little but the principle holds true.

      And who is this 25+ league goal striker? You take penalties out of the equation then only Messi and Ronaldo achieved 25+ in the 5 major leagues last season. Barca, Juve, Bayern, Chelsea and PSG all won their leagues with their CFs scoring 20 or less. From open play their centre forwards got 16 (Suarez), 18 (Tevez), 10 (Muller), 19 (Costa) and 11 (Ibrahimovic).

  7. Personally I think that Wenger is wanting a B2B partnership where they are intelligent enough to know when to hold back and go forward and work together so either one will be the holding player depending on the situation.

    The players we have been linked with are largly players who can fulfill the B2B role but put in the tackles; Vidal, Schnederlin, Kondogbia… all players who can put a good tackle in and yet they all offer something when going forward.

    Wilshere could be causing pause for thought as he has done well for England, performing as one of the best/the best player in the England shirt, I think this is good.

    If Wilshere can improve on his tackling, Coquelin isn’t the tallest yet been one of the best so why can’t Jack? Wilshere has intelligence and with his passing range he can start counter attacks from deep, he can step past a man when needs arise, he is young still and this could help him become a complete footballer. Not 1st choice yet though as Coquelin is ahead of Wilshere and this is good for Coquelin, he knows he is ahead of Jack currently and if he continues to grow in each game like he has then he can keep the starting spot.

    Couple things hold Wilshere back in the holding role.
    1. Tackling needs to improve.
    2. Injury proneness.

    If he works on those then who knows…….

    1. @midkemma
      3. his dribbling
      4. work on utilizing his low center of gravity better.
      He does all of the mentioned and he’s golden…

  8. Playing as an attacker operating from a deeper position is NOT the same as a DM – B2B would be more accurate.

  9. Coquelin versus Ramsey versus Wilshere… the battle for a starting spot will be fierce next season!

    1. Unless a top level DM arrives (someone clearly better than Coq) it will likely be Ramsey vs. Wilshere vs. Cazorla fighting for the spot pairing with Coq. Coq=DM paired with Cazorla/Ramsey/Wilshere as B2B attacker.

      Wenger will likely even be tempted to play Ramsey on the wing just to get his favorite boy on the pitch. This would, of course, be a big mistake.

  10. Play jack just of F C 4-2-3-1 and see the arsenal rip the EPL away from that team that paid for the title. We do need to bench BFG and get a fast CB and tall

  11. Jack is not a DM. He is also not good as a deep lying playmaker. The strongest part of his game is dynamic runs that draw players. The worst part of his game is relying on this too heavily. He doesn’t have perfect passing or the technique of a santi (or even a rambo) and is best used making short to mid range quick passes before creating space with his movement. He is best with his back to goal or in situations with small space where he will be able to work some space and remove opposition from play. This is COMPLETELY nullified as a DM or deep lying playmaker. If you watched against England his best moments came when he was breaking forward ahead of other midfielders – the opposite of both roles we just talked about. Jack’s passing in the game was mostly short or mid range passes to increase tempo and begin moves, with few (successful) long balls or direct passes. This results in a much higher pass completion rate because he takes less risks on the ball and is mostly about keeping posession. That said he is also the best short passer in the team and rarely gives away possession cheaply from poor passing unlike Delph or Henderson.

    For Arsenal Jack is rarely ever deployed as a deep layer. He has been brought on a few times for Coquelin but this included a shift in tactics. He is never expected to lie deep and spray the ball, mostly because it doesn’t work for him. Wenger would not choose to not buy a DM due to Jack because he does not want Jack in that position.

    Not buying a DM would be down to Coquelin, Arteta and Flamini. The decision to keep Flamini would probably result in no new DM unless Flamini is kept as an everyman and squad player (possible). Certainly a new first choice DM is hard to justify if you already have 2 quality players there…and as we just bought 1 for the future in Bielik and Arteta is captain and highly rated by Wenger…I don’t see us going in for one honestly. A utility DM who can play CB or B2B might be possible as Wenger never minds additional cover through versatility…but I’m doubting the transfer more and more. Very frustrating IMO as we’re not strong enough in that position. We’re just strong enough for it to be a dilemma for Wenger though.

  12. Everyone knows abut 6-0 against Chelsea which is where jack played a and against Slovenia it was 3-2 not 3-0 and a deep lying player is highly agile in defensive contribution along with attacking intelligence but it seems that one match has made the gunners day dream again

  13. Jack Wilshere’s role for England isn’t preventing anything. Arsene and the board will be the ones preventing it, if anyone is!

  14. There are four names I would like to see on the paddock at the same time next year. Walcott, Ox-Chamberlain, Wilshere and Coquelin.. Ox, Jack and Cocky in midfield and Theo on the right wing.
    That leaves room for Alexis and Ozil. You`re damned right I nothing about football haha!

  15. Wilshere lacks maturity, period! His immature runs (for arsenal) and careless falls and giving away balls betrays him. He thrives in England cause England’s midfield is **** and slightly immature (no offence) when compared with other teams like spain, Germany, France, Italy,Brazil and the likes. Until Wilshere grows up, Arsene can’t trust him with any serious role esp in midfield, Wilshere needs to know what his job is on the pitch and save us fans headache each time he holds the ball. A mature Wilshere is gold because he obviously has the abilities. For now, he is way down the pecking order, last on the list of midfielders, probably only above flamini and Diaby (cos of injuries)

  16. Also, can someone please tell the English media to shut the hell up? They seem to hype anything that puts a ball in the net. Hell, If my grandma does that, she’ll be the next best thing. They did that with barkley, Cleverly, and now sterling till they kill these players with their outrageous hype. Please… Wilshere can be the best if and only if he stays away from English media.

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