Much has been made of Arsenal’s ability to remain at the summit of the Premier League with their midfield axis of Francis Coquelin and Santi Cazorla sidelined by long-term injuries. Mathieu Flamini and Aaron Ramsey have deputised reasonably well, to keep the Gunners firmly on course for their first league title in 12 years.
Fans of the north London club were also presented with some good news this week, when it was announced that Coquelin has resumed full training – a month ahead of schedule – and could be available within a fortnight. In addition, Mikel Arteta has recently made his comeback, Calum Chambers has performed impressively in a new defensive midfield position and Mohamed Elneny was brought in from Basel this window. Crisis averted.
One man, who could also be competing with this bunch in the next 3-4 weeks, is Jack Wilshere.
Outside the club, he has become something of the forgotten man. The 24-year-old suffered a fractured fibula a couple of days before the season kicked off and has yet to feature since.
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It is another setback for the Englishman, whose short career has been blighted by injuries. However, there is still huge faith in Wilshere from Arsene Wenger, who believes he can still overcome these injuries and fulfil his giant potential. The Frenchman believes Wilshere can be the greatest of all his young prodigies and has been planning to build his team around this supreme talent for many years now.
In a season that has seen the likes of Deli Alli, Ross Barkley and Eric Dier be touted as future international midfield regulars, Roy Hodgson must be licking his lips.
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Yet, as impressive as these, and others, are, none have quite matched the hype that surrounded Wilshere when he was first introduced as a fragile, wonderfully gifted Arsenal academy graduate.
Alli is undoubtedly playing the best football of his career to date, yet has some way to go before he is likened to footballing greats such as Raul Gonzalez, and dubbed to be the future captain for both club and country as Wilshere was. Unlike these gifted young players, they have not had the hopes of a nation placed on them.
Between Wilshere’s injury troubles last season he was a vital part in Arsenal's and England’s team. A beautiful player who is direct when running with the ball, equipped with an array of passing that has not been seen since Paul Scholes was dominating this league.
His talents have not just been appreciated by deluded hopeful England fans too. Barcelona legend Xavi referenced Wilshere as the “future of English football.” The Three Lions don’t currently possess another player who is as equally comfortable playing in the hole behind the striker as he is shielding the back four, nor one to match his turn on the ball and passing ability.
It has been rumoured that Arsenal have, in principle agreed a new five-year contract with Wilshere, including a pay rise to £110,000 per week. If Wenger is right and Wilshere does overcome his injury troubles then every lover of the game will wish he matches his potential and becomes the cult hero his talent is worthy of.