It's funny how quickly perceptions can change in this weird and wonderful game we love so much. It wasn't very long ago when we couldn't have an England match or indeed an Arsenal match go by without a headline-eager pundit taking to the microphone to have a go at Jack Wilshere. Even when the player in question was producing at least as good as his team mates; often better, the mantra would go something like 'he's gotta do more for me' or 'Wilshere just hasn't progressed' or some such nonsense.
I suppose 'Wilshere could find his best once injury improves' isn't the sort of headlines that their bosses are going to be rubbing their hands about.
It's ok though, the likes of Paul Scholes and his ilk can just tell themselves that they gave Jack the kick up the backside that he needed. While Arsenal have not been at our fluent best this season to date I think Jack Wilshere has been our most consistent midfielder so far. Not only his standout showing against last season's champions at the Emirates but he has contributed something to every game so far this season.
Jack has been sharing this duel 8 position so far for the most part so I was interested to see how he fared playing deeper for England. In the last two matches, albeit against lesser opponents Wilshere has done very well, snatching the man of the match award both times. From what I could see it seemed as if Jack had more space to work with coming from a deeper position so markers were not really much of an issue, especially as he has that burst to drag past the opposition.
But what caught my eye was his passing.
Not his passing from deep or in the build up, that has always been very good. His one touch passing is usually very impressive, it was his final ball that floated my boat.
If I was to be critical of Jack over the years it would be this part of his game. Passing moves at Arsenal often ended with Wilshere over hitting a pass to a forward or passing it the opposite side of the forwards run. It often brings me back to that game at White Hart Lane before we traveled to Bayern Munich and went on that long unbeaten run. We were very much in control of that Derby game and had started the game with great desire and spirit. We had Tottenham pinned in their own half not managing to get through our pressing. Wilshere had many a chance to play our forwards in as both teams deployed a high line but time after time Wilshere wasted the final pass then came the kick in the nuts. Two quick goals from the home side after poor defending from us. It was the defence that got the brunt of criticism post match, rightly so in many respects but our midfield were let off the hook that day.
A goal when we were by far the better team could have changed the direction of that game. When Arsene Wenger landed Mesut Özil on deadline day last season, many people suggested that we didn't need yet another small technical player (he's far from small as well). It wouldn't have taken long to have a look at key passes from the right of the Arsenal midfielder's in the squad to reach the conclusion that he was indeed what the team needed. Aaron Ramsey is underrated in this area I believe but Wilshere has needed to improve.
Going back to the England game in Estonia we witnessed Wilshere created a string of clear cut chances with excellent passes. Notably his swivel in his own half and curling blast down field perfectly into the stride of Rooney who fluffed his lines yet again. That pass reminded me of a left sided Dennis Bergkamp type of pass.
Wilshere had made 5 key passes on the night, the most in the game. It wasn't' a one off either. He cut open San Marino when he ventured forward from deep. It's easy to point at the level of opposition and you'd have justification in doing so but I've noticed this from Jack all season.
His lofted pass to Ramsey who failed to connect against Manchester City a few weeks back, his through pass to Alexis against Besiktas and all plenty more for both Arsenal and England.
It's coming together nicely and very timely. Whatever you think of Mesut Özil his ability to make chances cannot be ignored, whether that be from a central position or from a wider position coming inside so his injury will require others to grab the baton without dropping it.
With Theo Walcott back in training alongside Danny Welbeck and Alexis Sanchez it looks like our midfielder's will have plenty of opportunity to get some final ball practice over the coming weeks.
I was initially disappointed to see Wilshere playing in a new deep role for England. It seems a waste of his dribbling runs and now final ball but having had time to think about it, it could be just what Arsenal need. We've witnessed Aaron Ramsey, Cesc Fabregas and even Abou Diaby playing in wide positions to develop their game. At times it has hampered the team in the short term but with Wilshere, Jack is getting a free education not at Arsenal's expense.
As long as Jack can avoid serious injury or multiple knocks then I can't help but feel this could be his break out season. He has most of the qualities needed in his position, he just needs to piece them altogether and remain consistent. He is getting that consistency because he is not getting injured. Who would have thunk it?!
In other news Oliver Giroud and his super human body is recovering faster than expected. Which isn't much of a surprise. It has only been recently that Oliver Giroud had picked up his first injury of his professional career. If true, that is a little nuts so it stands to reason that Giroud should recover faster than usual folk. In fact I think Giroud should donate a glass of his own blood for Abou Diaby to guzzle. Those who have seen True Blood will know what I'm talking about.
There are some quotes from Ivan Gazidis about Arsene Wenger being difficult to replace or something but I haven't read them as yet. Kinda stating the obvious though isn't it? Arsene is in the first year of his new deal so I don't see much point in chatting about it right now.
With that I have some work to do as well as some food to consume.
'till the next time.