What does Jack Wilshere’s new deal mean for Arsenal?


It’s a tough time to be an Arsenal fan right now – their former talisman Robin van Persie is banging goals in for Man United and seems hell-bent on leading them to yet another championship, they’ve fallen well behind in the Premier League title race despite a promising start to the season and they were unceremoniously dumped out of the League Cup at the quarter final stage by lowly Bradford City of League Two.

You can forgive the Gunners faithful for thinking that this Christmas might not be so festive for them. But there is some good news on the horizon – even if it doesn’t bring instant silverware. Midfielder and key man Jack Wilshere has stated that he is very close to signing a new £80,000-a-week deal which would keep him at the club for the next five years and lift some of the storm clouds that seem to be permanently hovering over the red side of north London at the moment. (Source: The Guardian).

With a steady run of games under his belt and form seemingly back to the high standards he commands, Wilshere is establishing himself once again as a key component in the Arsenal engine room – the man that makes the side tick. Granted, the Gunners’ fortunes on the pitch have been less than satisfying for all concerned, with some sections of the Arsenal support calling for Arsene Wenger’s head – a man who was once so comfortable in his position that the mantra amongst some of the fans was ‘Arsene knows’.

Not so much the case anymore but Wilshere is refusing to admit that the blame lies solely with the man in charge – “For me, there’s no question he’s the right man. When you have a few bad results I don’t think you can start blaming the manager. The players have to look at themselves.”

Quite a staunch defence from young Jack – in essence, he is correct in that the under-performing players put out to do the job must shoulder the blame but to include himself in this faction would be doing a disservice to his level of performance. If the XI aren’t performing then Wilshere’s spirited, determined and positive displays in the centre of the park don’t reflect this.

It sometimes takes players time to to acclimatise again after being out of action for so long and, by heck, Wilshere was out for a long 17 months but, since his recuperation, he has shown no signs of weariness or lag – only the willingness to drag his colleagues by the scruff of the neck through each game. He stood out amongst a group of players desperately short of ideas against Bradford in the League Cup and performed well in the previous match, at home to West Brom in the league – a 2-0 victory. Wenger afterwards stated: “We’ve got our young old Jack back.”

Wenger’s admittance of Wilshere’s importance to the team will echo around the Emirates – he’s an Arsenal lad who’s come through the youth team, honed his craft in a loan spell at Bolton Wanderers, and seems wise beyond his years (despite some scuffles with the law earlier in his career which are seemingly now behind him). If he has displayed immaturity off the pitch in the past, it certainly doesn’t mirror in what he displays on it.

And with Arsenal going through a decidedly sticky patch, this news that the midfielder is keen to tie himself to the club long term will be music to the ears of all Arsenal fans. His hopes and aims for 2013 must be clear – to stay fit and enjoy a healthy run in the side but long-term he’s ambitious and wants silverware, stating: “It’s too long for a club like Arsenal, we should be winning things. We’ve got good players. We used to in the past and there’s no reason why we can’t in the future.”

Securing the services of the tough tackling 20-year old for the next five years certainly wouldn’t solve the problems that Arsene Wenger still has, of course it won’t. He still needs a striker relied upon to find the goals and a commanding centre-half, someone of Tony Adams’ ilk – a leader. But, their key man making clear his intent that he shares the manager’s vision for the club is at least a step in the right direction. And it might also buck the trend of recent years – Arsenal losing a key player to a title rival. Christmas might not be all bad in north London after all.

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