On a recent edition of Arsenal podcast The Tuesday Club I was surprised to hear Alan Davies label Jack Wilshere the club’s ‘best player’. On closer reflection however, it’s tough to argue with. With Cesc Fabregas long gone and the likes of Samir Nasri plying their trade elsewhere, Jack Wilshere has got to be up there vying with Robin Van Persie for the Gunner’s most important player.
Whilst Van Persie provides the goals, Wilshere provides the craft and the endeavour in the centre of Arsenal’s midfield. His absence has been sorely felt this season as the Gunners have struggled on occasions and have found themselves out-fought in the midfield on away trips to QPR and Sunderland.
On the flip side, I think there’s a little too much expectation amongst fans that his return will provide all the solutions to the problems the Gunners have faced this season.
He picked up the stress fracture ankle injury during Arsenal’s regular pre-season folly the Emirates Cup and underwent surgery to try and fix the problem back on the 23rd of September. The surgery was labelled a success and he was set to face a 4-5 month convalescence. Unfortunately he suffered a recurrence of his ankle injury in January and there’s a good chance he’ll miss the entirety of this season and the Euros.
Assuming he’s back, fit and ready for next season what influence can we realistically expect him to have?
Let’s take Aaron Ramsey as our guide. He picked up a season-ending injury at a similar age to Wilshere, had to undergo multiple-surgeries and faced a difficult period of recovery. Even now you can see the toll that the injury had on him.
Arsenal fans get frustrated with the Welshman as it’s true that he’s a shadow of the player he was before his lay-off, but the truth is any youngster would struggle having gone through what he did at such an age.
So can we really expect Jack’s re-integration into the team to be any different? He’s been lined-up as one of England’s big hopes for the future, compared to Paul Gascoigne and given a lot faith by Arsene Wenger but I just hope that Arsenal fans manage their expectations properly.
He won’t come back at full strength and it’s going to take time for him to get back to his old ways. Indeed, it’ll be a blessing if he does reach those heights again by next season.
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