Arsenal's Jack Wilshere set to start biggest year of his life in the best shape he's been in
England midfielder is starting his first full pre-season since 2010 to build a platform ahead of next year's World Cup
Wednesday 03 July 2013
Jack Wilshere begins the biggest year of his life this week. He is about to start his first full pre-season since 2010, and hopes to build himself a platform from which he can tackle both this season – a crucial one for Arsenal – as well as next summer’s World Cup.
If the last two Arsenal seasons have been rather desperate rescue-jobs, with Wilshere missing all of 2011-12 and some of 2012-13, there are hopes that this year will be different, for him and for his team.
Wilshere struggled in the summer of 2011 after first feeling his ankle during England’s game with Switzerland on 4 June, limping out of pre-season friendlies before eventually having ankle surgery. He was still recovering the following summer, and it was not until October 2012 that he returned to the side.
For the middle section of last season, Wilshere was Arsenal’s best player, delivering a home cup win over Swansea City through force of will before a wonderful performance at Wembley drove England to a 2-1 friendly win over Brazil. In a team almost tiresome in their niceness, Wilshere’s firework burst reignited Arsenal. Opta say that he was involved in more Premier League goals than anyone else last year – beyond the metrics of scoring or assisting, but often contributing the first tackle or an early pass.
But by the end of the season, as Arsene Wenger sought the right balance to secure fourth, Wilshere, still adjusting to the workload, was excluded. Needing a solid base, Wenger paired Aaron Ramsey and Mikel Arteta deep in midfield. Needing incision, he played Santi Cazorla, Tomas Rosicky and Theo Walcott in front of them.
Obviously a fit strong Wilshere will certainly start for Arsenal – it is inconceivable that he should not. But Wenger will have to find the best role for him in the 4-2-3-1 system – he is very good in either the defensive or the attacking midfield line, but neither role seems quite perfect for him yet. With a genuine pre-season behind him, though, Wilshere can recover that remarkable strength and resilience that has made his career so thrilling so far.
With better forward additions, Arsenal can challenge for trophies again this season, as Wilshere himself has enthused. But, at the end of the season, football’s greatest prize is on offer, and Wilshere will be even more important. It could conceivably be argued that Arsenal have the midfielders to cope with Wilshere’s absence but England certainly do not.
Even after a handful of international caps, the national Wilshere-dependancy is striking. Without him, there is less bite, drive, imagination and little style – Wayne Rooney seems to be the only player liable to make something happen. England are never going to pass their way into the latter stages of a World Cup but with Wilshere and Rooney they might just spark their way there. Of course, they need to qualify first – a process to which Wilshere will be crucial too. It all starts this week.
Latest in Sport
Pornhub: Cheeky Liverpool fan uploads Philippe Coutinho wonder-goal video to adult website
Diego Costa keeps coin thrown at him during Capital One Cup final
Lukas Podolski corner: Has the Arsenal forward taken the worst corner of all time?
Tim Sherwood: 'Escape the drop and I’ll make sure Aston Villa do not suffer this again'
Ireland 19 England 9 player ratings: Jonathan Sexton? Devin Toner? Alex Goode? Who was the star man in Dublin?
- 1 This restaurant has misunderstood the concept of 'cheese and biscuits'
- 2 Delhi bus rapist blames dead victim for attack because 'girls are responsible for rape'
- 3 PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
- 4 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
- 5 The 'sex selfie stick' lets you FaceTime the inside of a vagina
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded