Tuesday, 22 March 2011

The meteoric rise of Jack Wilshere

From being a shock inclusion in the starting line-up for a Premier League game, to being one of the first names on the team sheet - it's been a crazy year for Jack Wilshere so far.

In fact, his surge to prominence has been so great that many, including myself, would be surprised if he wasn't named PFA Young Player of the Year. It wouldn't even shock me if he was on the shortlist for the senior award, he really has been that good this year. 

Out of our 49 games this season (thanks to @ArsenalCW for that stat), Jack has played the most, starting 36 times and coming off the bench four times (stat found here). Out of those games, he's barely had a bad one. He's scored twice and assisted eight goals, but those stats don't tell the complete story.

He's usually played alongside Alex Song in a midfield pivot, although he has had other midfield partners - he's linked up with Denilson, Diaby and Ramsey at times. He's also played in the "Cesc role" in the Carling Cup final and against Sunderland in the 0-0. The compliments and appraisal Jack's received have come from all corners - his captain, team mates, managers and opponents have been heaping on the praise, and it's little wonder.

The stand-out performance from his season would have to be against Barcelona in the home leg. I'll let your minds drift back to that wonderful game for a moment... great wasn't it? Anyway, he bossed the game against the likes of Xavi, Iniesta and Messi. If Balotelli didn't know who he was before, he definitely would after that performance.

(Speaking of people who didn't previously know who Jack was, after he starred in his first Emirates Cup, I somewhat prematurely got his name on the back of my shirt. All my friends would laugh at me and say "Who's Wilshere? I bet he's rubbish". Who's laughing now?)

His only two goals of the campaign so far have come against Aston Villa in the Premier League and Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League. The former was a diving header at the back post to seal the three points in the dying embers of the game, while the latter was a beautiful dink over the goalkeeper after a flowing move.

The eight assists he has provided include important goals for Chamakh and Bendtner. One of Marouane's goals which was set up by Jack turned out to be the winner against Birmingham. Our English prodigy played a one-two with Alex Song, before slipping in Chamakh who did the rest.

Bendtner's goal was arguably Jack's best pass of the season, and a hugely important one. Even though we didn't win the Carling Cup in the end, the goal brought our hopes of the final back to life midway through a tough second half against Ipswich. Jack received the ball inside his own half, and sent a searching ball right into the path of Bendtner - and the rest is history.

The fact that Capello has revealed he'll be an England regular from now on is telling of how good a season he has had. He only made his international debut earlier this year, and already is being talked of as future captain of England, and indeed of Arsenal. But it's not just his skills that warrant such high praise.

His attitude is always 100% spot on. He gives every fibre of his being in every game, no matter what, and never shies out of a tackle, winning more than he loses, despite his slight frame. Another thing Arsenal fans appreciate about him is how he acknowledges the fans without fail, after every game. He accepts responsibility for the team's failures, even when he played his heart out, and he doesn't take credit for our victories.

Many players divide opinion in this club, but not Jack. The image of him after the Carling Cup final would have touched every true Gooner. We all knew how hard he'd worked for that trophy. If we win the league this year, a huge amount of credit has to go to him. He's been immense.


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