Forget January signings, forget Mesut Ozil, forget Olivier Giroud, Jack Wilshere is the most important factor in Arsenal’s challenge for silverware this season.
Of course Wilshere can’t single-handedly end Arsenal’s trophy drought and there are many other players who play huge roles, starting at the much improved centre-back partnership of Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny, right up to the huge task of Giroud’s hold up play up front.
But the vital cog in the ever slick Arsenal team is Jack Wilshere.
Of course, this season hasn’t quite yet been a classic season for him, but there is evidence Wilshere is finally starting to hit the heights he reached both in the 2010-11 season, and such sterling performances as the win against Brazil at Wembley last season.
Each and every legend to have played in the Premier League has one thing in common.
Whether it is Patrick Vieira, Roy Keane, Steven Gerrard, Thierry Henry, Claude Makelele, or Eric Cantona, they all have a unique drive to push their team to glory.
Whether it is leading by example, as shown by Makelele and Henry, or huge vocal characters such as Vieira and Keane, these players are natural leaders and winners.
Wilshere has both the quality to lead teams, and the quality to win matches single-handedly.
It is clear to all that the man hates to lose, as shown by the way he handled the Manchester City away defeat last weekend.
Whilst Wilshere did overstep the line and is subsequently serving a completely fair two game ban, it is worth remembering he is still a young man of 21- a fact often forgotten by the English press.
Of course, whilst this is no excuse for his behaviour, every player makes mistakes.
Everyone remembers how David Beckham’s international career was marred with his sending off in the 1998 World Cup, which arguably cost England their place in the World Cup, and then the similar offence to Wilshere where he swore at fans during a loss to Manchester City.
However, as Beckham’s career proves, players mature, as shown by Wilshere’s manager Arsene Wenger, who believes Wilshere will one day captain the Arsenal team, a view Wilshere agrees with.
It is this drive that Wilshere offers the Arsenal midfield that is very rare, and exactly what detractors have been saying Arsenal have lacked in the team during the trophy drought.
It appears the drive has once again returned. This was no more evident that the exceptional team goal Wilshere first started then finished off against Norwich in October.
It is clear that when Wilshere plays well, Arsenal play rather well too. Of course this isn’t always the case, but Wilshere is clearly a man still to find his full fitness after first the career-threatening ankle injury then the minor niggles he suffered as he tried, some may say too hard, to kick start his career again.
However, his ability to play 90 minutes weekly has started to re-emerge, as shown in the games against Southampton and Manchester City, and when Wilshere reaches his full fitness this will become even more apparent.
This was never clearer than in the Champions League victory over Marseille, where Wilshere scored both goals in the comfortable win, and shone with his direct style of play and ever accurate passing.
It is clear Wilshere is present in Roy Hodgson’s plans for the World Cup, and he for one will be hoping Wilshere remains both fit and on form, because a potential midfield of Wilshere, Gerrard and Barkley will drive fear into any team. Let’s hope, for England’s sake, these three midfielders stay fit.
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