“It has been 14 months and that is a long time for someone at his age. It is an eternity, but it is great news.
“We have to give him a few training sessions to see how he copes and responds to it, that is the delicate, sensitive stage – to choose when to bring him in and out.
“We will have to handle that day-by-day.”
With the highly anticipated return of the key players Jack Wilshere, Bacary Sagna, Tomas Rosicky and others, things are looking up for the Arsenal as the Premier League pauses for a two-week international break. With so many big players returning from injury, competition grows fierce among new additions and old heads alike. Carl Jenkinson will have to fight to keep his place ahead of Bacary Sagna, while Tomas Rosicky will have to be on their best form to earn a starting position in an overcrowded midfield. With other players filling in the squad positions, the most coveted position in the squad is one currently occupied by Santi Cazorla; central attacking midfield.
You can’t compare Cazorla to Wilshere, they are very different players, both suited to a different slot in midfield. His number doesn’t take kindly to the placement, but Jack should be a central midfielder, sitting just behind Cazorla, playing alongside Abou Diaby, Mikel Arteta and others. it’s hard to judge a player who’s yet to turn 21, but for now, Jack’s style doesn’t match up with what’s required of an attacking midfielder. His strengths lie in passing, moving and reading the game, all of which make him a tailored fit for central midfield.
The problem with Wilshere’s best position is that it’s currently occupied by our one of our most consistent players from last season: Mikel Arteta. Last year, Arteta was signed to ease the blow of losing star player Cesc Fabregas, but not to directly replace him. Despite playing as the most forward midfielder for Everton, Arteta was quickly assigned to a partnered midfield role, to act as the fulcrum between the back four and the strikers.
Alongside Alex Song, Arteta knew he would have to exercise caution in possession, as Song would run forward given any chance. Arteta’s job was to quickly move the ball forward as the team surged forward around him, while making sure should anyone lose possession, he wouldn’t be caught out of position to protect our defenders. While he played this role well, you couldn’t help but get the feeling that Arteta was being hindered by Song’s lack of focus and hard work in the areas of the pitch for which he was responsible. This year, Song’s departure to Barcelona saw Abou Diaby become Arteta’s partner in the 2-1 pivot in the centre of the park. Since the beginning of the 12/13 season, the team now looks to Arteta to be the shield for the back four; to be the hallowed “defensive midfielder” that everyone seemed to think required new signings to be filled. Arteta took the cries for a new face in midfield, and threw them to the wind, showing everyone why physicality isn’t paramount in one’s ability to defend.
Many could make the same case for Jack, saying that he could be our defensive midfielder. Jack isn’t one to sit back when the team is attacking, so asking him to fill an undesirable role upon his return from injury could prove detrimental for his form. Besides, if something isn’t broken, why fix it? So far, Arteta has statistically proven that he’s better suited to a defensive role, although slightly biased to his amount of playing time over the past two seasons.
|Player||Mikel Arteta (12/13)||Jack Wilshere (10/11)|
|Avg. Passes p/g||94||54.4|
|Avg. Pass Accuracy %||93.8||86.1|
|Long Balls (Accurate) p/g||6.6 (46/50)||3.1 (107/152)|
Despite the fact that Arteta and Wilshere have never played together, they both played alongside Alex Song at some point, and thus had similar responsibilities. This comparison clearly shows that at the moment, Jack is no match for Arteta, which may not be a bad thing. This means that there’s no pressure for him to return on his best form, which gives him time to regain match fitness and hone his skills further, and ease back into the game gradually.
Jack won’t be back in full force any time soon, but is anybody really that worried?