'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.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat