Traditionally, the January transfer window is a quiet time in terms of player trading, but all that can change when a major tournament is on the horizon. We’re heading into World Cup year and those who are on the fringes of their national squads are eager to get as much game time as possible in order to increase their chances of making the plane.
One of those players is Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere. Back to fitness after a catalogue of injuries, the midfielder continues to be overlooked by Gareth Southgate as younger, untried men are used in Wilshere’s preferred slot. A move away from the Emirates is a possibility but given Arsenal’s mixed start to the season, Arsene Wenger should really be looking to bring this considerable talent back into the fold.
A top-four finish has to be Arsenal’s minimum target this year after a shaky start but are they on course? The Gunners are only sixth-favourites in this respect and the general verdict via football tips and punditry suggests that the Europa League beckons once again next season. However, an in-form Jack Wilshere has the capability to propel Arsenal back up the table and help the club reach those Champions League slots.
The first point to consider is Wilshere’s fitness. Speaking at the start of October, the player stated that his fitness levels were ‘better than ever’ but it would appear that his manager doesn’t necessarily share that view. Just a few days later, Arsene Wenger said that the midfielder needed to prove that fitness in order to gain a new contract with the North London club. The obvious comeback for Arsenal fans is to ask how Wilshere can prove that if he isn’t playing.
Former Gunner Paul Merson, who suggested that Wilshere may need to move abroad to get his career moving again, described him as a deep-lying player that needs to see more of the ball and the stats seem to back that up.
Much has been made of Arsenal’s inability to win the Premier League title but when Wenger’s side won back-to-back FA Cups in 2014 and 2015, Jack Wilshere was an integral part of a successful team. Across those two seasons, what really stood out were his passing accuracy levels – 86% in 2013/14 and 84% a year later. Wilshere also scores highly on assists and passes created and those statistics are why Wenger should be looking to give the player a starting berth.
Mesut Ozil may be considered a better option as a bigger goal threat but, while Wilshere will never be a prolific scorer, his role in the side is to supply the front men and in particular new signing Alexandre Lacazette who has struggled for service at times this season.
He’s still only 25 and should be coming into his prime so there will be no shortage of offers for Jack Wilshere if he comes onto the market. Injuries have been a concern over the last two seasons but the player claims he is fit now and therefore he should be an asset to Arsenal in all competitions for 2017/18 and beyond.