Thoughts on Jack Wilshere's Return to First-Team Action

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Thoughts on Jack Wilshere's Return to First-Team Action
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

After a very long wait that seemed to last all eternity, Jack Wilshere played for 70 minutes in Arsenal’s fortunate 1-0 victory over Queens Park Rangers. Wilshere’s potential was massive at such a very young age and he rose through the ranks before making his Arsenal debut at the age of 16, beating Cesc Fabregas’ record in the process.

His stellar performances in the 2010/11 season were good enough to send Abou Diaby and Denilson down the pecking order, and the youngster was rightly rewarded with the PFA Young Player of the Year award at the end of that campaign. He also earned a place in the Team of the Year and was voted as Arsenal’s Player of the Season for 2011.

While he was out for the best part of 14 months, his influence on the pitch was sorely missed, as Arsenal lacked a player who could match his grit, drive, passion and, of course, determination. He’s arguably one of the best passers of the ball at Arsenal, and his passes to teammates upfront pierce defenses like hot knife through butter.

Jack Wilshere goes into every game like a general wielding a sword and shield, ready for battle; he is the kind of player who loves football for what it is: the beautiful game. Despite having such a small stature, Jack Wilshere possesses the stamina of an ox and he is also regarded as a tireless worker because of his high work rate.

In a side full of football technicians, Wilshere showed his worth as he blended straight into the team, despite being out of action for a considerable chunk of time. His replacements on the pitch, have showed what they are made of this season, but I must commend Abou Diaby for his massive improvement this season, while Aaron Ramsey continues to show his inconsistency on certain occasions.

Arsenal fans are already aware of the massive qualities Jack Wilshere possesses, and it was heart-warming to see the reception he received in the Emirates Stadium last weekend. In the early part of the game, his touches on the ball coincided with loud roars from the Arsenal faithful and that spurred him on to put up a great show.

Amazingly, Wilshere had a 100% pass completion rate in the first half and almost supplied an assist to Ramsey, but the Welshman’s header hit the crossbar before going over. In the second half, his pass completion rate reduced to 94% before he was substituted for Theo Walcott, earning an ovation as he gracefully came off the pitch.

At the end of the game, Arsene Wenger spoke about how his team deserved to be patient, but when asked about Wilshere’s comeback, the gaffer had this to say,

You could see technically he is there, and he gave everything, and what he is missing he will get through competition. He still misses a bit of the pace of the game, the rhythm of the game, but overall what he did was class.

Despite having an extended run of games prior to the match against QPR, Wenger has stated that Wilshere will not be available for tonight’s Capital One encounter against Reading (via Club Call), but he’ll be in contention for the crunch encounter against Manchester United on Saturday. Wenger is also worried about the burden of expectation that could be placed on Jackie boy’s shoulders and hopes the fans will not to expect fireworks from the midfielder.

Wilshere, on the other hand, has expressed his delight in playing first-team football again and has said he hopes for his team to push on for further challenges as the season progresses.

This season, Arsenal began their campaign on a very bright note with the stand-out feat being the extended run of clean sheets that made everyone wax lyrical about Steve Bould’s influence on the rearguard. As the season progressed, there have been on and off results, but the toothless attacking prowess showcased against Norwich and Schalke didn’t go down well with the fans.

Jack Wilshere arrives at a time when Arsenal is badly in need of change, and his return to first-team action has been a breath of fresh air in my honest opinion. Against QPR, he always wanted the ball, allowing Santi Cazorla to have more freedom to strut his amazing stuff.

His close control, technique and deft touches were on display on Saturday, but I was a bit concerned with the amount of times he was clattered by the opposition.

While tonight’s game against Reading will allow most of the first-team players to get some deserved rest, Arsenal will need every last available man to make the daunting trip to Old Trafford, a ground the club was badly humiliated at last season.

To be honest, my expectations for that game aren’t very high, judging from our performance there last season, but this season’s fixtures at the Britannia, Anfield and the Etihad have shown that the Gunners are capable of bringing something off their sleeves, and the fact that we have Jack Wilshere in our ranks gives me butterflies in my tummy.

Jack Andrew Garry Wilshere, It’s good to have you back.

This article is also featured on Toni Okike's Arsenal blog, Gooner Daily

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