Jack Wilshere is a player who has divided fan-bases over the last few years; initially, it was the Arsenal faithful, but as time went on, fans of the England national team got in on the action. A controversial young character, Jack has – although not always positively – been noticed by almost every football fan in the country, and even possibly the continent.
It was the 16th February 2011, and Arsenal welcomed the greatest team in the world to the Emirates Stadium. Barcelona, who were superior to any team on the planet at the time, were in a comfortable mood as they walked through to the dressing room. After the match, though, it wasn’t Barcelona everyone was talking in a match. In fact, it wasn’t a team – it was one man. Not even Lionel Messi was at the centre of the conversation, it was Jack Wilshere – a then-19 year old central midfielder who didn’t stop running and controlled the game. Jack’s opposition wasn’t too bad – Xavi Hernández was his opposing middle-man – but he dealt with it emphatically, and outplayed the Barcelona and Spain man, in what was the best individual performance I have ever seen at the Emirates stadium since its beginning back in 2006.
You could interpret this in different ways. The anti-Jack fans believe that Wilshere is living off this game and claim that, without this phenomenal showing, the 22 year old would still be a nobody in football. They claim that – since this match – Wilshere’s career has stagnated so much so that he isn’t even a little bit better three years later. These statements have their reasons. The latter especially, is probably true: the England international has always had good all-round play but lacked mouthwatering numbers in terms of goals and assists. Fast-forward a few years, and the same problems are here; Wilshere hasn’t recorded a double-figured amount of numbers for his league goal-tally, or assist-tally, yet.
At the moment he is often tagged as ‘overrated because he’s English’, or ‘completely overhyped’; but, talent wise, I can assure you: these statements are wrong. He may not be in the most fruitful form as we speak and he may not have enjoyed any mind-buggling runs of games in the last few years but the talent is certainly there, and I am unquestionably certain of that.
At the moment, he is a footballer lacking the cutting edge. He has the ability to beat a man with ease, gliding past tackles effortlessly, as well as to defend and make tackles to a great standard – but something, something evidently crucial, is missing. It isn’t the mental side of the game, that is for sure. Something the left-footed youngster has been blessed with, ever-since a young age, is astounding confidence and belief in his own ability. He also possesses the arrogance that every big player needs; the arrogance that wins you football matches because, to put it bluntly, you refuse to lose. Jack is right in the head, and although he has been the subject of much abuse and criticism from professional pundits and fans in a pub alike, he remains completely sure of his own ability – which is something very, very encouraging to see. Many see this attitude, which could easily be interpreted as cockiness, as something that will halt Jack and possibly restrict his improvement in the coming years, but I see this in a completely different light.
There is something about the lad this is almost indescribable, and something that is certainly extremely formidable to put into understandable words. Whether it be in his eyes or his tremendously tricky feet, something tells me that he will merit the term top class one day. And, to add to this argument, it isn’t just me who thinks Jack has unbelievable potential; the likes of Arsène Wenger, Cesc Fàbregas and many, many more have told newspapers and the press about how good this lad’s potential really is on a countless amount of occasions.