UEFA Champions League: Jack Wilshere Deserved Better Against Bayern Munich

Nick AkermanFeatured ColumnistFebruary 19, 2013

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 19:  Jack Wilshere of Arsenal shows his dejection during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 first leg match between Arsenal and Bayern Muenchen at Emirates Stadium on February 19, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

What must Jack Wilshere be thinking after Arsenal's 3-1 Champions League defeat to Bayern Munich?

The Englishman contributed a leader's display in a side that lacked confidence beyond the seventh minute. Once Toni Kroos hammered home Thomas Muller's cross, were the home side ever going to compete?

Important individuals such as Thomas Vermaelen, Bacary Sagna and Mikel Arteta barely got going on a night where Arsenal showed an almighty lack of steel. Vermaelen—who aligned himself with Aaron Ramsey as the worst performer of the night—once again looked hopeless at left-back.

Vermaelen may have worn the captain's armband on the night, but the only player Arsene Wenger will be pleased with is Jack Wilshere. The midfielder competed relentlessly across the match and regularly made world-class talents look uncomfortable.

Wilshere nipped at the heels of an opposition midfield that was bigger and stronger. He managed four interceptions and one tackle against Javi Martinez and Bastian Schweinsteiger. Despite Arsenal's wealth of talent, he was the sole individual who gave Bayern's midfield something to consider.

Most impressively, Wilshere continued to try and create opportunities for his teammates. His confidence on the ball and ability to skip beyond Bayern players was exceptional. In a match that featured Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben, it was Wilshere who successfully completed the most dribbles on the pitch, reaching a total of six across 90 minutes.

A pass success rate of 89 percent also underlined a young man who methodically went about his usual business. With 90 percent each, only Laurent Koscielny and Dante completed a higher ratio of passes—but many of these were across the defensive line. Wilshere's toolset is a varied one, and even against the odds, he effectively showcased his talent on the European stage.

After a difficult week of press conference drama, Arsene Wenger must take solace from Wilshere's class (via The Telegraph). The 21-year-old flaunted a dynamic range of skills in England's recent victory over Brazil and repeated his heroics against Jupp Heyncke's team. 

Wilshere deserved better. If football was fair, the Arsenal man would have been allowed to swap shirts and inflict more damage on his colleagues' quest for Champions League glory. His peers let him down in front of an Emirates crowd that vented its frustration once the final whistle was blown. Even so, only the harshest of Gunners fans would have aimed their jeers towards the tireless Englishman.

The morning papers will undoubtedly focus on Arsenal's ability to get things wrong. Wenger and experienced players will receive negative press, most of which is justified.

Underneath it all, only Wilshere will go to bed knowing he did all he could to stop a rampaging German outfit from quashing Arsenal's limp attempt at winning the Champions League. Another year, another disappointment for Wenger's men.

Do you think Jack Wilshere was Arsenal's best player against Bayern Munich? Let me know in the comments section below and be sure to follow me on Twitter.

All statistics in this article are courtesy of Whoscored.