Tag Archives: wilshere

JACK WILSHERE: A BIT OF BERGKAMP OR MORE MAKELELE?

31 Jul

Here we have Jack Wilshere, arguably the goldenboy and the future of English football.

A big performer for the big stage with a big personality. This has been demonstrated on a few occasions, most memorably against a legendary Barcelona team at The Emirates.

The main problem that seems to have hindered Wilshere’s incredible progress, is undoubtedly his injuries which kept him sidelined for the whole of the 2011-12 season, the season after his breakthrough into the Arsenal first eleven. In the 2010-11 season he won the PFA Young Player of The Year Award and also made the PFA Team of The Year. He accomplished a lot in his first year as a regular member of the team.

This is a player who has made his League debut at the age of 16 and is the youngest league debutant in Arsenal’s history but he has missed out on crucial stages of his development.

However, the big question for many Arsenal fans is, what position will Wilshere conquer? He has a bit of everything in his locker. A player who, I would say is a hybrid of Paul Scholes and Joe Cole. He can glide past players elegantly in midfield, provoke, prod and commit the opposition but he also has a lovely left-peg which he uses to stroke the ball around from deep.

He has been seen by many as a No.10. As evidenced by Arsene Wenger, who upon selling Robin van Persie, decided to reward Wilshere with the famous playmaker number, also worn by Dennis Bergkamp. This shirt number is usually a signal of intent from the manager and would suggest that, if at least long-term, Wilshere will be the resident creative midfielder.

I haven’t been convinced that this is Wilshere’s long-term role in the side and although I think he has got a good level of flair, I don’t think he has the creativity or goal-scoring potential of, as an example, Cesc Fabregas. In my eyes, Wilshere will not be able to match the creative exploits of Santi Cazorla, who is a superb creative influence on the team. However, he does have a degree of dynamism, that will be a huge virtue in a more central position to the team. In an outstanding all-round performance against Barcelona, Wilshere made a superb attacking contribution in the final third with a pass completion of 91%.

This suggests that Wilshere can make a quality contribution in attack but, for me a quality No.10 scores at least 12 league goals per season. Wilshere currently has 1 league goal in his career for Arsenal.

I’m not saying that he isn’t an outstanding player, as I believe he is one of the best player’s at under-21 level in world football but as a No.10 he will definitely have to increase his goal-scoring record drastically.

Fabregas was in a similar position where his profligacy led to a few doubters but Fabregas always seemed to have the potential to blossom into a goal-scoring midfielder. When Wenger watched him at the u-17’s World Cup in 2003, Fabregas won the Golden Boot. When Fabregas begun to score regularly for Arsenal, Wenger said, ‘I believe he is more relaxed, there is less tension in his finishing. You feel that before he wanted to force the chance and now he is more relaxed. Also he has gained more physical power. You can see he resists much more the runs of his opponents and he is more powerful in his runs. These two ingredients make a big difference.’ In Wilshere’s case, I wouldn’t say he has this problem, he just doesn’t have the instinct of a goal-scoring midfielder.

I would also say, football is changing. You need great passers at the base of your attack, who help you to keep the ball well, change the tempo of your game and start of your attacks. Jack Wilshere is in this mould but also has the bite in his game which will allow him to cope well in the battle. Think of Arteta who has a tidy, short-range passing-game with the tactical nous to screen his back four without being quick, strong or particularly aggressive. Jack Wilshere can be this player but will have to strongly develop his tactical understanding of the game. He has the tenacity to succeed and also has a much better passing-range. Also with Steve Bould, a defensive coach who has a great understanding in the defensive aspect of the game, Jack Wilshere can blossom alongside the correct clientele.

Wenger’s use of him correlates with this idea also. When Wilshere was used alongside Alex Song in midfield, Song would advance forward and Wilshere had to sit and screen his back-four, like the under-rated Claude Makelele. With all this in mind it is fair to say his schooling in this position has already begun.

Not to mention what the legendary Fabio Capello had planned for him as England manager. Capello compared Wilshere to Makelele.

Capello said: “Wilshere will play in front of the back four. It is not the position he prefers – he wants to go forward. But one of the midfielders has to stay back.

“Makelele was faster and could play with both feet, but Wilshere is really intelligent on the pitch. His movement, with or without the ball, has improved a lot. For me, Wilshere is better.

“In some games at Arsenal he has played forward. In other games he has played in front of the back four.

“He has improved a lot with short passes and winning back the ball. He is playing with confidence now.”

This gives us an indication of how Wilshere and his career can progress. For me he will have to take the advice of ex-England captain Bryan Robson, who said on Wilshere, “I look at him and think what kind of player does Jack want to be? Is he going to be an offensive player? If he is, he needs to score more goals. If he is going to be defensive, he has to work that little bit harder on the defensive side of his game.”

I am of the opinion Wilshere really should consider trying to establish himself as the heir to Mikel Arteta rather than the next Dennis Bergkamp. He should challenge himself, to live up to Capello’s huge billing of being better than Makelele.

 

 

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The Return of #LeBoss

18 Apr
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WENGER – LOST PATIENCE WITH SOME PLAYERS

The ruthless streak has re-emerged. The man, who is often described as a father-figure type of manager, has “lost his rag”. The way Wenger has hit some of the mainstays in his team with a severe reality check is reminiscent of a Dad who has been punishing his disobedient children. And rightly so.

Wenger is a man, that should be judged by his actions. He has a reputation of standing right by his players and remaining loyal. You could say he adopts an unwritten code of  “all that happens at the Club, stays within the Club.”

Wenger’s inability to publicly criticise players has often been seen as a weakness by fans. Fans had grown tired of Wenger always trying to put a positive spin on poor player performances. It had begun to sound scripted to fans. It had begun to sound insulting at the worst of times. Has this great man lost sight of what it takes to win? Has this man started to see a different game to what we were watching? Players were slipping to shocking standards but were still guaranteed to start in the next fixture.

BREAKING POINT

The breaking point came at White Hart Lane; a game Arsenal lost without being outperformed in the slightest and the leaving us 7-poits adrift of Spurs. It was easy for Tottenham to win the North London derby against a shaky defence who certainly looked like they were not executing any training ground drills with some shocking defending.

Arsenal Training Session

WENGER ADDRESSING THE SQUAD

Wenger had clearly become annoyed by his defence. “What happened today, we have seen many times this season repeated in the big games…We played offside in a position where we shouldn’t have played offside.” These were Wenger’s post-match comments after the game against Tottenham and he didn’t pull no punches. He made it apparent he was happy with the “energy levels of the team” and the team performance but felt the defence had let them down at decisive moments in the game.

Players such as our Captain – Thomas Vermaelen and Woijech Szszesny – our No.1 goalkeeper, had the media making embarrassing suggestions that our manager doesn’t allow us to train on defending. When you actually think about that suggestion, it is totally ludicrous and borderline disrespectful to suggest that one of the World’s finest football managers doesn’t use any form of defensive/tactical coaching in any of his sessions. This was a huge blow to the ego of a manager who had only suffered his 5th North London derby defeat in the Premier League after 34 games.

Not good signs for the Arsenal heading into a second-leg clash against the newly-crowned Champions of Germany, Bayern Munich. Losing 2-0 on aggregate and heading to the home of the leading German team in bad form, we were being tipped for a thrashing.

WIELDING THE AXE

This is when the manager snapped and made some drastic changes. He dropped our captain Vermaelen, who is the worst captain I have seen at Arsenal in 20 years. Wenger was clearly unimpressed by his leadership and organisation of our defence and thought Laurent Koscielny, who had been chomping at the bit, was due an opportunity.

This was a huge surprise but an even bigger surprise came in the managers decision to totally drop Woijech Szczesny from the squad. Our No.1 goalkeeper had been dropped and replaced by Lukasz Fabianski, a goalkeeper previously known as “Flappyhandski” and had been out for 13-months prior to a game we were expected to get hammered. Not to mention, our boy-wonder, Jack Wilshere as well as Lukas Podolski had also been diagnosed with ankle injuries and Bacary Sagna was still not back from injury.

Now, a lot of Arsenal fans were happy to settle for a defeat as long as we showed an enormous pride, as we know this result could potentially give us a jump-start in our pursuit of Champions League football. Along with our injuries this team selection from Wenger was seen as big gamble and could backfire , leave us with a thrashing which would send us into freefall. However, as we all know, the managers decisions have been well and truly vindicated after we beat Bayern Munich 2-0 at The Allianz Arena. Since then we have won 4 out of 5 league games and have managed to look a lot more assured in our game; scoring 11 goals and conceding a meagre 3.

Vermaelen had returned to the team against Norwich but was promptly dropped as soon as Per Mertesacker became available again. The manager said, “as a captain and a leader that shouldn’t guarantee you a place in any game. For purely sporting reasons, or tactical reasons in the game, when you don’t think it is the right selection, do you put the player in just because he is captain?’ If you know Wenger, he always has a captain who is core to the team. This only spells trouble for Vermaelen and after his shocking performance as captain this season, Wenger will listen to offers for him in the Summer.

FRAGILE VERMAELEN

FRAGILE VERMAELEN

The managers’ recently employed, heavy-handed style seems to have ruffled a few feathers recently and Wenger has even gone as far as saying, “What will decide our attitude, my attitude (in the transfer market), is how we do now until the end of the season.” Clearly this is a big suggestion to players that they must step up their game or be shipped out once the transfer window opens.

What Wenger said about Szszesny , who lets not forget has only just turned 23-years-old today, would of been classed as a lack of public support for the player. As had been earlier mentioned, Wenger will always cover up poor player performances but he took a total change in direction and publicly questioned Szszesny’s mental strength and said, “recently, he had one or two games where he was performing less.” This was designed to nullify Szszesny’s level of complacency and was an unusual step for our manager but I can only assume Wenger , who is an advocate of humility, wanted to bring Szszesny down a peg or two and force him to work harder on his game. This was followed promptly in the form of criticism of Wenger from Szszesny Snr, that Szszesny Jnr apologised for in a written statement, that then saw Szszesny playing for the Arsenal u-21’s against Liverpool (surely further punishment from Wenger).

BENCHED SZSZESNY

BENCHED SZSZESNY

There is also the recently reported issue surrounding Podolski’s career at Arsenal who has also been frozen out of the team recently but that should be left for another post.

Add these instances of ruthlessness to the belief from David Dein that, his close friend, Arsene Wenger will splash the cash in the Summer, “The fact is he has to strengthen the team and I know he will do that.”

Arsene Wenger has been frank in his interviews lately, has dropped players who he doesn’t see as performing and is apparently lining up big transfer targets for this Summer; I think its fair to say there will be plenty movement in the Summer and Wenger won’t hold any prisoners.