Arsenal's Jack Wilshere should has used his injury layoff to study the performances of Tomas Rosicky. The Czech veteran has provided Wilshere with a master-class in how to play attacking midfielder for Arsenal.
Rosicky has started the Gunners last two games against Reading and West Bromwich Albion. He has shown the forward-thinking, clever movement and eye for goal Wilshere has often lacked in advanced areas this season.
Rosicky's two-goal salvo in Arsenal's 2-0 away win over West Brom capped an intelligent and stylish showing. It was a performance that encapsulated everything Arsenal require from the most advanced member of their midfield trio.
Against the Baggies, it was Rosicky's sly movement that defined many of Arsenal's best attacking moves. He played with intelligence and dovetailed well with Santi Cazorla, Aaron Ramsey and Gervinho.
With Rosicky positioned as the central schemer, Cazorla occupied a berth on the left of the front three. Yet that was only how the team looked on paper.
On the pitch, Rosicky's darting runs interchanged with Cazorla's movements. Arsenal's attackers switched positions and rotated all over the field.
When Cazorla drifted into the middle, Rosicky took up his position on the left. At other times when Cazorla hovered through the middle, Rosicky drifted out to the right, letting Gervinho switch flanks to the left.
This fluidity of movement made Arsenal's attacking players almost impossible to mark for the Albion defence. It forced defenders out of position and created space for free Arsenal runners to attack.
Rosicky's opening goal was the perfect example. Cazorla had drifted into the middle and Rosicky was overlapping towards the left.
Cazorla played a square pass to Mikel Arteta. The Spaniard launched a precise pass over the top for Gervinho, who came off the right wing and ran across the middle of West Brom's defence.
He controlled the ball on the left and twisted and turned his marker. At the same time, Rosicky made a run through the middle in support.
He was perfectly positioned to dart into the box and head home Gervinho's cross-shot. It was the kind of intricate, creative move Arsenal have been known from under Arsene Wenger.
It was made possible by clever, varied movement with Rosicky at the heart of the process. He started the flow of the attack by switching with Cazorla.
When Wilshere partners Cazorla in advanced areas, the two often get in each other's way. That's because Wilshere pushes too far forward, too often. He doesn't vary his movement enough to complement Cazorla.
Rosicky then capped things by making the kind of decisive, late run a true attacking midfielder regularly makes. It's the run Wilshere must make more often.
Rosicky completed his brace as the hub of a similarly crafty move. This time he was in the middle, with Cazorla on the inside right and Gervinho on the left flank.
He received the ball and played a quick layoff to Cazorla. Ramsey broke from deep and made a run down the outside right.
Cazorla passed to Ramsey as Rosicky made a dart through the middle. Ramsey pulled the ball across, into the path of Rosicky's run.
He thumped in a shot which Baggies 'keeper Ben Foster parried. However, Rosicky pounced on the rebound and slammed a similarly emphatic shot to complete the goal.
Wilshere possesses similar power and technique in his shooting. Yet he doesn't deploy his shot enough.
It's telling that Rosicky's three goals in only 11 appearances, is one more than Wilshere's managed in 26 appearances.
Wilshere struggles to get into scoring positions enough. When he does, he often shuns the responsibility to shoot or play a through pass between defenders.
Arsenal's mode of play depends on a prolific creator. Wenger had one in Cesc Fabregas and constructed the formation Arsenal play to emphasize his talents.
Arsenal still play the Fabregas system even though he departed for FC Barcelona in 2011. Everything Arsenal do going forward, is designed to go through a creative, attacking midfielder.
That player must have a scoring touch and an eye for a defence-splitting pass. He must combine speed of thought with equally quick execution.
Wilshere has been thrust into that role this season, but remains a work in progress at this crucial position. For the future he needs to learn from Rosicky and Cazorla.
Wilshere must position himself to score more goals and take better advantage of his incredible skill running with the ball. He must also become efficient at exploiting the gaps in a defence with clever and accurate through passes.
Wilshere's return from injury will boost Arsenal and their push for a top four finish. However, Wenger shouldn't put Wilshere ahead of Rosicky at the most position in his team.