Jack Wilshere, after 14 months of injury hell, is closing in on a first team return for Arsenal. After completing 254 minutes of football for the Arsenal U21’s, the England international is on course to make a return to the first team this week with his last appearance in the league being in May 2011 on the last day of the season in the 2-2 draw with Fulham.
“He is doing extremely well, the situation looks very good. We have to be cautious, not crazy, because of his talent you are always pushed in a situation where you would like to rush him back, and we have to resist that,” were manager, Arsene Wenger’s words on his recovery.
Wilshere made the bench for Arsenal’s 1-0 defeat against Norwich City last weekend and while he may not have played a part in the game, he definitely got the match day experience and feeling back and it’s only a matter of time before he’s on the pitch – so what does this mean for Arsenal?
A fit Wilshere means many things for Arsenal – for one, Arsenal have another player in midfield (apart from the injury prone Abou Diaby) that can provide the drive from midfield that players like Aaron Ramsey, Francis Coquelin and Mikel Arteta can’t provide. Those marauding runs from midfield which Arsenal missed so dearly last season will be seen again which in the process, takes defences apart and with Wilshere’s ball control and strength, he’ll in all probability glide through the pitch.
Other things Wilshere adds is his creativity, energy and enthusiasm – his presence is a positive influence for Arsenal’s midfield as he makes tackles, chases players and gives his all in every game. In the 1-0 defeat to Norwich, Santi Cazorla - Arsenal's most creative player this season so far - was shut down by the Norwich defense and midfield, leading to Arsenal having no real influence on the game. This could be avoided with Wilshere on the pitch as he can also share the creative burden. These qualities will immensely strengthen Arsenal in their bid to finally end a 7 year trophy drought.
Aside from footballing ability, Wilshere provides Wenger with alternatives. Arteta has been a revelation for Arsenal ever since his signing on transfer deadline day in the summer of 2011 – however, people forget that he was a replacement for Wilshere. While the Spaniard has been relatively injury free – contrary to previous seasons at Everton – his natural fitness is still a doubt and with the return of the versatile Wilshere, he can be rested more often with rotation between the vast majority of midfielders Wenger has in his disposal. Wilshere can play in place of, as well as alongside Arteta as they are the only true midfielders in the squad who can dictate the tempo and pace of the game from midfield – midfield metronomes in other words.
Wilshere can also play in an advanced midfield role which would allow Cazorla to either be rested or switched to the wings to attack the byline – where he was notably most productive for Malaga last season – providing further options for Wenger to use.
Arsenal fans will be itching to see Wilshere play against Queens Park Rangers this weekend – whether he starts, plays a cameo or is an unused substitute is another question but fans are very, very close to seeing a dream midfield of Arteta, Wilshere and Cazorla.852782