Thoughts on the Tug-of-War Between Arsenal and England over Wilshere
Jack Wilshere is undoubtedly one of the most talented footballers to grace the English soil and his success and progress has been monitored keenly by Arsenal and English fans alike.
After a successful spell at Bolton he was introduced into the first team setup in the 2010/11 campaign which turned out to be his breakthrough season as be rightly won the PFA Young Footballer of the Year at the end of that campaign. Since then, Wilshere has suffered a lot of injuries with the most notable being the stress fracture he suffered on his ankle that sidelined him for 14 months.
Wilshere is a player with reserves of energy and he loves to make lung-bursting runs and sometimes, rather unfortunately, he attracts tackles from the opposition which makes him to spend some time with the physios.
Despite the fact that he has Arsenal DNA all over him, Wilshere is a son of the soil and the English National team always do their bit to ensure that he’s available when they need him. Wilshere has notched up just 12 caps for the Three Lions but his performance against Brazil earned him more plaudits than the amount of gel in Cristiano Ronaldo’s hair.
Wilshere even harbored hopes of going to the 2012 Olympics to represent Team Great Britain even if he wasn’t fit and although his manager praised his attitude, he didn’t sanction the move.
The season, Wilshere hasn’t really blossomed as you’d expect and much of this is due to the acquisition of Mesut Ozil and the inspirational form of Aaron Ramsey. With Ozil arguably one of the best No. 10s in the business and Ramsey flourishing in the heart of the midfield alongside Mikel Arteta, Wilshere has been used more on the flanks, a position where he hasn’t had much joy. Even Ramsey gets displaced when the manager wants to use Arteta and Mathieu Flamini and that’s where versatility comes in handy.
Wilshere enjoyed a good preseason under his belt and with Arteta suffering a thigh injury at the start of the campaign, he played alongside Ramsey in the holding roles but both players have been moved to various advanced positions to accommodate the more natural holding midfielders.
Wilshere also earned a place in the back pages when he was caught puffing a cigarette in public, as well as his quotes about English players playing for the nation, which sparked mixed opinions.
Prior to his off the pitch shenanigans, Wilshere had scored two goals in 69 appearances but in the space of a fortnight after his smoking chronicles, he bagged two goals against West Brom and Norwich. Smokin’ performance? Maybe.
A niggling ankle injury prevented Wilshere from playing in the victories over Liverpool and Dortmund but he made his comeback in the disappointing loss to Manchester United in Old Trafford. On the night, his directness was well appreciated as the fans had seen poor showings from Mesut Ozil and Santi Cazorla.
Wilshere is currently on a specially devised training regime for his inflamed ankle and the Gunners are hopeful that he’d recover fully on time because Arsene Wenger needs all the men he can get for the grueling set of fixtures coming up.
With England already qualifying for the World Cup, there are many midfielders they could use in the games against Chile and Germany. When they took on Montenegro and Poland in their run-in for a World Cup berth, Wilshere started both games from the dugout and had a total of 18 minutes over the course of both matches.
Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Michael Carrick were all preferred ahead of Wilshere during these games but with Carrick suffering an injury, Wily Ol’ Woy Hodgson would want to use Wilshere from the onset.
Arsenal has instructed England to feature their star player in just one of the friendlies. He’s far to important to their title ambitions and they clearly feel that he shouldn’t be used in frivolous friendly matches.
If my memory serves me right, Robin van Persie was in a hot streak in the 2009/10 season scoring seven goals in eight games and he had already helped Holland qualify for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. A meaning friendly against Italy, a team that also qualified, took place around this period in November and both sides shared the spoils in a 1-1 draw. However, a poorly timed tackle by Giorgio Chiellini caused RVP to rupture his ankle ligaments which kept him out for five months.
I only rate international fixtures highly when they are played in a tournament or qualifiers but there are some friendly matches that are just a thorn in the flesh, especially when a player that’s not fully fit like Wilshere is summoned to play.
There are so many players in the Premier League that could have been called up instead of a half fit Wilshere but Hodgson in his infinite wisdom has decided to make Arsenal fans watch one of the England games with their hearts in their mouths.
I’d prefer to see Wilshere play against Chile but I have this gut feeling that he’d be used in the high octane game against Germany.
Let’s just hope that he returns in one piece.