Jack Wilshere: Why Arsenal Must Sign Somebody to Cover Injury-Prone Star
Arsene Wenger repeatedly insists he wants to protect the young midfielder, but he just cannot resist the temptation to play him. He is simply too good to be left out.
When he initially broke into the team, playing a half-century of games in his debut season is what caused him to break down with injury. After more than a year on the sidelines, he has come back and played almost 25 games on the bounce.
Unsurprisingly, he is now out injured again. Arsenal never learn, and now they're bereft of a major midfield talent.
Arsenal badly need to sign someone to cover for Wilshere. Go to the next slide to find out more about why.
Jack Wilshere Needs Protection
Paul Gilham/Getty Images
For the next few years, Jack Wilshere will be walking a metaphorical injury tight-rope.
His ankle problems need constant surveillance. Arsene Wenger admitted recently that Wilshere has monthly scans to monitor his condition, and it is the results of one such scan that has seen him sidelined for four to six weeks at a crucial point in Arsenal's season.
Even without those historical ankle problems, Wilshere would always be in danger: his style of play flirts regularly with injury. Wilshere likes to invite and ride tackles. Inevitably, this occasionally leads to him being on the receiving end of some pretty hefty challenges.
In order to get the best out of Wilshere over the course of the season, Arsenal need to rest him regularly. In order to do that, it is essential that they go into the transfer market to find a suitable alternative.
Arsenal Lack Squad Depth
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
Even in the matches when Arsene Wenger has intended to rest Jack Wilshere, he has occasionally had to call on him from the substitutes bench.
There was the notable example of the FA Cup clash with Blackburn Rovers. Arsenal ought to have been able to outwit the Championship side, but Wenger was forced to introduce Wilshere as the team struggled, thus negating the point of resting him in the first place.
Arsenal have no one who can replace the drive and creativity that Wilshere brings to the centre of the park. Aaron Ramsey lacks the technical skill, while Abou Diaby lacks the consistency and commitment.
The closest thing Arsenal have to a direct replacement for Wilshere is Tomas Rosicky. The Czech midfielder shares Wilshere's ability to inject tempo into the game. However, he also shares his propensity to pick up injuries and is approaching the end of his career.
Arsenal's squad is not strong enough to sustain giving Jack Wilshere a rest. A foray into the transfer market is the only way to resolve that.
Jack Wilshere: Impossible to Replace?
Jan Kruger/Getty Images
Perhaps the most difficult question facing Arsene Wenger is not whether or not to sign someone to alleviate the pressure on Wilshere, but who on earth he could sign to fulfil such a demanding role.
Wilshere has skill, strength and speed in the first five yards. He possesses the alluring combination of the ability to accelerate away from defenders, the intelligence to identify the pass and the technical quality to play it to perfection.
That's without mentioning the player's psychological qualities. Wilshere is a natural leader. He has swiftly become the team's talisman, and his fight and heart is already an integral part of Arsenal Football Club.
It's difficult to find players with that combination of character and quality on the market. Fortunately, that is not my job, but that of Arsene Wenger and his scouting team.
One thing is clear: If Arsenal are to improve next season, they'll need to maximise Wilshere's potential. To do that, they need to acquire someone who can afford him the occasional rest.
Who do you think Arsenal could sign to cover for Jack Wilshere? Let us know your suggestions below.