Jack Wilshere, without any doubt in my mind, is one of the game’s most intelligent players.  Intelligence in this sense is seen when a player is able to choose the best option at every given moment with or without the ball. With the ball, Jack is up there with the incomparable Santi Cazorla as both have the technical skills to match the quickness of their footballing minds. Without the ball, which had been Jack’s weak point, it now appears that all the hard knocks to his career have helped him grow.  Against Doncaster Wednesday night in the Carabao Cup, when Mohamed Elneny pushed forward, Wilshere dropped to occupy vulnerable spaces. It’s no more Jack the lad, it’s now Jack the man.

I saw plenty in that match against lowly Doncaster Rovers.  Plenty.

Watching him, I saw that he played with a certain detachment. He was in it, yet out of it. That state gave him the unique awareness that belongs only to geniuses like Andrea Pirlo and Xavi Hernandez, maestros who seem to see what the fans high up in the stand see: a panoramic view of the game while not missing the details. Jack Wilshere is back, only bigger–though he will need time, support and recognition for it all to become fully forged.

He needs time to build up his fitness and get away from the scares of his injury traumas. He needs everybody’s support in his transition from the impetuous kid who drove headlong at defensive brick walls to the metronome who would orchestrate play. Fully back, he would need his teammates to recognize that he has become the center, the soul of their team. And never again should a cruel injury befall him. That is the prayer that should be on the lips of every lover of football.

Jack, it appears, has been reconstructing his game to diminish his proneness to impact injuries which have all but blighted his footballing career. Arjen Robben did likewise and enjoyed a more injury free tenure. So did Robin Van Persie. Jack is doing the same, and, providentially, it is the reconstruction process that has heightened his awareness that has given maturity to his game. With this quality, a player begins to see himself merely as a cog in the wheel and so becomes more team conscious. All the world greatest players have it.

What should be the best role for Wilshere? Simple answer: any creative midfield role, but the deep lying playmaker role would provide a better insurance against the vicious tackles. He might actually play better further forward but his provocative style invites the harsh tackles. To play him deeper is to help his effort at reconstructing his game. Wilshere has enough genius in him for the team to be built around him.  Am I straying into dizzy heights?  I would wager on it, that, not long from now, Jack would be taking all of us safely through these same dizzying routes.

Let us indulge a little bit and imagine Ozil, Santi, Jack and Rambo in the mid-areas firing on all cylinders. The feints, the back-heels, the drag-backs, the no-look passes, the one-touch passes, the through-balls… The vision, the swagger… The aforementioned dizzying heights…and the victories.

This is my song to Jack.

by Pony Eye


  • Lovely post, PE. A fit and firing Jack is indeed something to behold and this really is his last chance to make it at Arsenal. I like him in the Ozil position on right/free role if and when the Master is not able to play. But I can also see him in the Xhaka role now and again. Fingers crossed he stays fit for a long time and fulfils his promise. It would be bliss.

  • Yep will written P E I think we all want Jack to succeed. I think the ball is really in his court though and he needs to be a little more intelligent in his play. So many times Jack pushes the ball 6 inches to far ahead of him and then lunges in after it… crunch

    If he can stay fit I think he would be a decent captain.

  • “It’s no more Jack the lad, it’s now Jack the man.”

    And when his entire skillset comes mature– with a cutthroat mentality?
    I’ll go one better and tag him:
    ‘Black Jack Wilshere’.


  • No problem, TA… The weather’s gone cold up here in the mountains so I’ve got a little extra time… some of which I “invested” watching the first half from Wednesday’s match… As we know all too well, some investments are better than others, i.e., that’s 45+ minutes of my life gone forever… 😉

    PE, I LOVE your enthusiasm, but, having watched that first half with Jack in there, I can’t quite share the excitement. Obviously, he’s got some great skills at his disposal but I didn’t see him (nor anybody else, truth be told…) as able to get that (pretty strong…) group going in a way that really could have broken down the Doncaster defensive shell. (We didn’t look all that safe when they were able to break on us, too…) That might have been more a function of having a couple of inexperienced players (AMN on the left, Nelson on the right) trying to figure out the wing-back roles or maybe the general lack of team play I felt I witnessed. A long ball over the top finally got us on the score-sheet, but there was a lot of that sort of individual effort rather than effective team movement and interplay, IMO…

    I don’t want to be too much of a downer, but (for me) Jack has always been too reliant on the single foot which makes him a player who tries to do too much with his first touch–and then chasing it down–before he is able to make a decision about where he wants to take the play. He does some good positioning work so that he can receive the ball on that (left) foot but then he relies on “that little burst of pace” (as Wenger puts it…) to get some space for his 2nd touch. Sorry, but the way Doncaster sat off him (and everybody else…) gave me little chance to see if he’s still got it–and the way he was receiving the ball actually looked poorer than I remembered. If he’s slower in chasing down the first touch (not unlike another #10, the Welsh fellow on our team, who also has had some injury issues…) I’m not too hopeful. Like you say, maybe the injuries will make him adjust his game and we’ll probably need to give him minutes against better opposition. Maybe he HAS grown wiser. Against those better teams, like Retsub, I fear he’s liable to get hurt trying to catch up to his touches… If he pulls out of those challenges, it’s (only) a turnover, but those aren’t ideal either…

    Again, I love the ability to think big and bold (and beautiful) and extrapolate from what you’ve seen. I guess I would just tend to be more conservative and I can’t really believe Jack could be mentioned alongside the likes of Pirlo and Xavi. If Jack could be a serviceable back-up to an Ozil or a Xhaka, (a level down, IMO, but guys, I think, we should build our team around…) I would be over the moon. Jack, in his youth, looked like he had some elements that–if he built on them–might take him into a strong role as a creative force, esp. on the English team. That’s just my view (as good as anyone else’s…), so I’d be over the (multiple) moons of Saturn (where, supposedly, there are “conditions for life”) for Jack to prove me wrong…

  • Interesting comments all.

    What is common is that every one recognises his ability. Most are just worried about that extra 6 inches as retsub put it, with which his balls over run him that invites opponents’ tackles. That’s where his reconstruction work comes in.

    Am like a student of Wilshere. I watched his Cologne and Doncaster appearances technically and I saw that he is now a seeker of space much like Ozil and Xhaka. That’s a major leap in his game. Secondly he now seeks passing outlets instead of running into blind alleys. Once these healthy assets have been acquired by him the best way to then see him is to remember his genius. His genius now has the right environment to express itself more safely.

    To conclude with his game against Doncaster would be missing the point. The right picture is the old Wilshere superimposed on his new acquisitions.

  • Great post PE.

    I rate Jacko better than Rambo, as he knows how to protect the defense. Rambo just bombs forward without a care for the world.

    Without his persistent injuries caused by his strides which attracts hard tacklers, he will be a world class player now. It is sad that he had a so-so career than a brilliant injury-free one.

    Pray that this will be his season where he proves himself.


  • njk. .. That’s a pertinent phrase “his strides”. Most ball carriers through defense thickets run with short strides e.g. Messi. Such short strides are difficult to time for tackles. Jack runs with his long strides.

    Furthermore the diminutive players usually have good initial accelerations but not great final speed. They therefore compensate with short busts punctuated with brakes and twists and turns e.g. Harzard and Alexis. Jack does not punctuate his which I feel has something to do with that general British mentality of the shortest route to the opponents goal ….. a disguised long ball. This happens to be one area where I believe he has made good progress in his reconstruction work. He has gotten more patient. It’s become for him less a case of smashing through the defence and more of unlocking the defence. Great stride!

  • I would wish to see Xhaka play with Jack in the DM position. Both creates chances from deep like Santi, but each has differences that sets them apart.

    You are right that Jack runs with long strides, which are always susceptible to getting caught in sliding tackles.

    I know of a friend who got a horrible injury when his stride caused him to get his studs stuck in the turf and his ankle got twisted badly. After a few months out he mentioned that he could not play anymore.

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