Jack Wilshere: How Important Is Young Star to an Arsenal Revival?

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistFebruary 18, 2013

The process of rebuilding Arsenal has to begin with identifying what building blocks are already in place. Jack Wilshere is one key piece in any attempt to revive Arsenal.

Just how important the young star is to a turnaround in the Gunners' fortunes is determined by his best role in the team. This is admittedly an issue this author has wavered on from time to time.

When Wilshere first came into the first team for the 2010/11 season, he looked like a natural halfway line player. He was an upmarket version of a so-called "water carrier" that season.

Wilshere knitted Arsenal's possession together with quick and simple passes. It was a different style than the one he had exuded in the youth ranks.

There he had been a natural No. 10. Yet in his debut season with the seniors, Wilshere didn't offer much evidence that he could be Arsenal's chief schemer.

Things have changed during this tumultuous campaign. Starting with his dynamic display at Everton in November, Wilshere has shown all the qualities of an attack-minded playmaker.

The biggest difference in his play is the acceleration he produces in advanced positions. Wilshere's skill running with the ball is dazzling to watch.

Tricky yet strong, the England youth glides by defenders. His ability to weave his way through opposition resistance makes Wilshere a natural game-changer.

His eye for a through pass is excellent, although his delivery doesn't always match it. The goalscoring output is still not what it should be, but Wilshere is showing a greater desire to find the net.

Adorning him with that No. 10 shirt was an appropriate move. Wilshere is beginning to look like the natural successor to Cesc Fabregas.

Like Fabregas and the great Dennis Bergkamp before him, Wilshere gives Arsenal a dominant flair player in between midfield and the forward line. The style of play Arsene Wenger loves demands this kind of player.

Wilshere is fast becoming a genuine match-winner, and those are currently in short supply at Arsenal. As good as Santi Cazorla is, he is a complementary player who thrives best as part of a supporting cast, with Wilshere as its focal point.

That takes care of the physical attributes Wilshere offers. However, his true significance to the Arsenal cause might come from his attitude and demeanour.

This isn't intended as another ode to the merits of "rolling up sleeves," or "getting stuck in." What Wilshere brings is a cocky, almost arrogant attitude. Yet it is the right kind of arrogance.

There is simply too much timidity in this current Arsenal squad. Think of how many games against opposition big or small, this team has looked scared to win this season.

Wilshere plays with a swagger that says no matter who the opponent is, he's too good for them. It's not 'I'm going to be too good for them,' or 'I need to do this.' It is simply put a statement of intent.

Wenger needs more players undaunted by the significance of a game, or the stature of the opposition. Wilshere plays with an aggressive desire to impose himself on the other team.

That's the same quality, Bergkamp, Patrick Vieira and Thierry Henry all possessed. In a team littered with wallflowers, or those conceited with little reason to be, Wilshere exudes the bold, defiant tenacity Arsenal need.



Wilshere's is becoming vital to an Arsenal revival. The next important step is ensuring the formation and the supporting ensemble best complements his role in the team.

That role should be behind the striker, where he can quickly transform forward play into clear scoring opportunities. Arsenal need game-changers and Wilshere is becoming exactly that.


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