'Incredible' Wilshere puts Ramsey in shade

Rich international future beckons for one Gunner but the other finds it tough

It was the tale of two young Gunners. One at the heart of a unit more accurate than for quite some time; the other trying in vain to supply some firepower to an operation he has been asked to lead. If such a thing as crass as bragging rights is allowed at the Emirates, it is fair to say Jack Wilshere will is looking forward to seeing Aaron Ramsey when Arsenal next convene.

They have been pencilled in – "inked" in some quarters – as the midfield partnership to take the north London side through the imminent post-Fabregas era. At 19, Wilshere is a Premier League phenomenon and, just a few months older, Ramsey has the wherewithalto make as much of an impression. Indeed, some say the Welshman would already have done so, but for last year's broken leg. Here was an opportunity to justify the faith.

Ramsey has not managed to. Not yet anyway. Gary Speed, the Wales manager, made him his captain and great feats were predicted. Yet all too inevitably, once the hwyl and hype had subsided, it was Wilshere leaving with his reputation enhanced. Although Fabio Capello saw it rather differently.

"It was a normal performance from him," said the Italian. Not "normal" as in the insult, but "normal" as is the compliment, as in "it is this sort of quality display we expect from Jack". "Incredible" was the adjective Capello used to describe the teenager. And it was so hard to contradict, seeing as Wilshere had not even played an hour of international football beforeyesterday.

"The performance of this player during this season has been incredible," crooned Capello. "I talked to Arsène [Wenger, the Arsenal manager] about him and he said the same – 'incredible'. He is playing like a 28-, 29-year-old with 40 caps. But a good player is already improving." That is a scary proposition.

Wilshere had landed at Cardiff Airport – were England unaware of the bridge and the tunnel? – announcing that Wales reminded him of Gavin and Stacey. In the event, it was his totally flummoxed club pal saying: "What's occurring?" As the ball whirred around him and as his side were so outpaced in an opening half-hour that it seemed as if Wales were stuck in some parallel world of perpetual slow-motion, Ramsey could have been forgiven for wondering what was afoot. It certainly wasn't "lush" whatever it was.

Plenty was said about the merits of appointing a 20-year-old as captain. Yet bizarrely what this shy young man from the Caerphilly mountain could do in the press room in the days before the match, he could not transfer into his more natural habitat. Yes, there were excuses for Ramsey, not least that those around him were palpably at a lower class than he is used to at the Colney training ground. Saying that, Ramsey encountered a similar gulf on his month loan at Cardiff City earlier this year and he managed to stand out throughout that spell. There was no chance of that yesterday. Comparisons are in the habit of being odious, but this was particularly wretched.

While Wilshere showed that by now customary swagger, Ramsey's composure was shattered until the game was gone. It must be queried whether he has ever suffered an opening so torrid, so at odds with his talent. Of course, his labourings would be used to sum up the Welsh mediocrity. That is one of the drawbacks of wearing the armband. The spotlight shines ever brighter, the lens zooms in to highlight the errors. Passes went astray at an alarming and unfamiliar rate. And that was when he found himself in possession.

"Aaron always wants to get on the ball and maybe in the first half he was a bit frustrated," said Speed. "To be fair, England played well and Aaron didn't see the ball as much as he liked. We're not always going to play against teams as good as England so we can hope we can develop. They will all learn from this and from how they came back in the second half."

Ramsey was at the vanguard of the improvement. It was not sufficient to qualify as a fightback, but at least it was something for Speed and his captain to take forward. The next qualifying game is not until September, although as Speed said, the real competitive stuff does not start then. "We're not going to qualify from this group," he said. "But by the next qualifying campaign which starts in 2012 we want to be in place to compete. That's the plan. To go into that with a great chance of qualifying for the World Cup."

By then, it will be interesting to see where Ramsey is in his development. And, of course, Wilshere. To be blunt, yesterday only promised a rich international future for the latter.

Arts and Entertainment
books
Voices
Caustic she may be, but Joan Rivers is a feminist hero, whether she likes it or not
voicesShe's an inspiration, whether she likes it or not, says Ellen E Jones
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Sport
Diego Costa
footballEverton 3 Chelsea 6: Diego Costa double has manager purring
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
3D printed bump keys can access almost any lock
techSoftware needs photo of lock and not much more
Arts and Entertainment
The 'three chords and the truth gal' performing at the Cornbury Music Festival, Oxford, earlier this summer
music... so how did she become country music's hottest new star?
Life and Style
The spy mistress-general: A lecturer in nutritional therapy in her modern life, Heather Rosa favours a Byzantine look topped off with a squid and a schooner
fashionEurope's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln
News
Dr Alice Roberts in front of a
peopleAlice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Star turns: Montacute House
tv
News
i100Steve Carell selling chicken, Tina Fey selling saving accounts and Steve Colbert selling, um...
Arts and Entertainment
Unsettling perspective: Iraq gave Turner a subject and a voice (stock photo)
booksBrian Turner's new book goes back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
News
The Digicub app, for young fans
advertisingNSPCC 'extremely concerned'
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Some of the key words and phrases to remember
booksA user's guide to weasel words
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor
She's dark, sarcastic, and bashes life in Nowheresville ... so how did Kacey Musgraves become country music's hottest new star?

Kacey Musgraves: Nashville's hottest new star

The singer has two Grammys for her first album under her belt and her celebrity fans include Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams and Katy Perry
American soldier-poet Brian Turner reveals the enduring turmoil that inspired his memoir

Soldier-poet Brian Turner on his new memoir

James Kidd meets the prize-winning writer, whose new memoir takes him back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
Aston Villa vs Hull match preview: Villa were not surprised that Ron Vlaar was a World Cup star

Villa were not surprised that Vlaar was a World Cup star

Andi Weimann reveals just how good his Dutch teammate really is
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef ekes out his holiday in Italy with divine, simple salads

Bill Granger's simple Italian salads

Our chef presents his own version of Italian dishes, taking in the flavours and produce that inspired him while he was in the country
The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

If supporters begin to close bank accounts, switch broadband suppliers or shun satellite sales, their voices will be heard. It’s time for revolution