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How Jack Wilshere Can Get Even Better

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 27:  Jack Wilshere (R) of Arsenal holds off the challenge of Selcuk Sahin of Fenerbahce during the UEFA Champions League Play Off Second leg match between Arsenal FC and Fenerbahce SK at Emirates Stadium on August 27, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Michael Regan/Getty Images
Charlie MelmanCorrespondent IISeptember 6, 2013

After Mesut Ozil signed for Arsenal on transfer deadline day, most of the discussion about Arsenal has concerned their midfield, and how the German will fit into it.

His first task will be developing a relationship with those around him so that he may seamlessly integrate into the team's style of play while integrating his own personal technique.

Foremost among those whom he will need to work with on the training ground is Jack Wilshere.

Wilshere is the crown jewel in a generation of homegrown British players that are beginning to come of age and form the core of Arsene Wenger's side, and eventually that of his successor.

He was one of the only Arsenal players who was started during virtually every game he was fit for last season, and when one watches him play it is not difficult to see why.

In many ways, Wilshere is the archetypal English midfielder. The physicality and constant running that the Premier League has always necessitated demands a more complete type of player in the middle of the pitch than in more technical leagues like those of Spain or England.

It is not uncommon to see Wilshere make lung-busting runs from his own penalty box to that of the opposition, or charging at every loose ball and running with it when he wins it back.

In both cases, he achieves the latter by exercising his superb dribbling technique, which is more reminiscent of a forward such as Eden Hazard or Franck Ribery.

This combination is what makes Wilshere such a special player: Very few men in the world can marry a complete physical commitment to every aspect of the game with marvelous technical nous. That is why he was made a full England international at the age of 18.

But, obviously, no player is perfect. If one examines Wilshere closely enough, one can more clearly identify and analyze his flaws.

Before he can eradicate any of the footballing ones, however, he must remain fully fit for a significant period of time. He has not staved off injury for any really significant length of time after an initially minor ankle injury in 2011 ballooned into more than a season on the sidelines.

Just when he was approaching his best after coming back at the beginning of the last campaign, Wilshere was put back out of action after hurting the other ankle. Eventually, he was deemed fit enough to come off the bench but hardly received a start during Arsenal's final games.

This past summer, he underwent surgery to hopefully rectify this seemingly chronic problem.

Now that Wilshere is once again playing on a regular basis, the facets of his game that most need improvement are becoming progressively more obvious.

Principally, because he is such a technically gifted player and possesses the ability to dribble past almost any defender in the world, he is often tempted to do too much with the ball at his feet in the attacking third.

While this can occasionally yield the sorts of spectacular results that makes fans appreciate him so much, Wilshere often ends up running right into a defender and suffocating what was otherwise a very promising attack.

Because Wilshere is an attacking midfielder, he often finds himself in positions that he believes require him to do so. Perhaps he is also compensating for the fact that he is not as potent a creative force as Santi Cazorla or Mesut Ozil.

His extraordinary talent will likely allow him to hone this creative instinct and become a more threatening inventive force over time. But, while certainly not incapable of threading a ball to a forward in the final third, it is not his forte at present.

However, that might simply be due to the fact that he is able to defer this responsibility to more natural creators like Santi Cazorla and Tomas Rosicky.

The former is in his late 20s, and the latter is probably playing in his final couple seasons with Arsenal. Mesut Ozil is only 24, though, and Wilshere will not have to shoulder the attacking load for quite some time, if ever.

Still, though, if he wishes to improve upon his already spectacular talent, he need only solve a physical flaw and one footballing one.

It is also worth noting that Wilshere is only 21 years old.

 

 

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