If I see one more article that claims that Jack Wilshere has been overtaken by Aaron Ramsey in the Arsenal starting line up – and so therefore should look for first-team football elsewhere, or will be warming the bench, or has fallen behind, or is not as good as he used to be, or will be forced to play out of position for the rest of his Arsenal career – I think I will scream. I’m not saying anyone who has suggested these things is an idiot, but these suggestions have irked me.
Ramsey is in the form of his life, something that has come as a major surprise to almost anyone who knew something about him before. So far this season he has lit up the Premier League and we are now seeing the player that Gary Speed made captain of Wales - an honour that one day I think he will probably get that back.
It’s also worth noting that Wilshere is not quite fit. But instead of making grandiose claims about what this means for the rest of the Arsenal midfield, and in particular Wilshere, we should be looking at Ramsey and hoping that every player in the Premier League and every British player across the globe can take the same huge step up that he has taken.
The first riposte that comes to mind when taking to task these claims is that Arsenal are fighting for silverware on four fronts. It’s early days in the season but they are going to need a squad of players that are good enough to fight on all fronts in order to do that. No 11 players win a trophy, a squad and a team do. The managers, coaches, bus drivers, stadium cleaners, kit washers and the supporters - the club wins trophies.
Over a 60 match season, every player is going to get his turn to play and then hopefully cement his place in the team. To suggest that Wilshere’s benching against Napoli in the Champions League was anything other than a rotation to help get Tomas Rosicky a bit of match fitness as he returns form injury and is ridiculous. Managers rotate their squads and that’s what we saw in Arsenal’s masterclass display against the Italians on Tuesday.
The next thing to say is that Ramsey and Wilshere are the future of Arsenal. Together, they will one-day form the type of relationship at the Emirates Stadium that Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs had at Manchester United. Both players are under 23-years-old and have ten or more years in their playing careers left. Wearing either of them out now would be a mortal sin, because they’re both just too good.
Again, Wilshere is not fully match fit. People forget this because there wasn’t a picture of his shin falling off his leg, but Wilshere has had more time on the sideline than Ramsey ever did and it takes time to recover from that.
Ramsey’s own recovery took time and Arsene Wenger had the vision to wait while the world told him to drop the deadwood. Do we really think that Wenger would get rid of Wilshere, who hasn’t lost the form that Ramsey did? Psychologically right now, having Ramsey right next to Wilshere is the best thing that can happen for both of them. Ramsey has the mental strength to come back from injury and having Wilshere see that it is possible is something all football fans should want to see.
The claim that Wenger is diminishing the ability and effectiveness of the diminutive Arsenal midfielder by putting him on the left is a strange and, ultimately, flawed one. Ramsey spent several games over the last few seasons playing on the left.
Wenger has a history of playing people out of their comfort zone to improve their touch and ability to move about the pitch and to increase the flowing nature of the team. This has worked to devastating effect for Ramsey and will work also for Wilshere.
Wilshere, Mesut Ozil, Mathieu Flamini, Ramsey, Santi Carzola, Rosicky and Mikel Arteta - this is a good group of names to have in your squad. While it’s true that Wenger can only generally have three of them on the pitch at one time (assuming there’s Serge Gnabry, Lukas Podolski or Theo Walcott on the wings), to suggest that the culmination of events will lead to Wilshere in a different club’s strip is ridiculous.
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