After Jack Wilshere was quoted admitting he’s not sure if he’ll play for Arsenal again, I’ve been thinking over the last day or so:
What would it take for him to play for Arsenal again?
It’s an interesting question because I don’t think it’s as black or white as some people make out. Some suggest he’s gone, that this loan move was simply the precursor to establishing his fitness so Arsenal can sell him next summer, but I don’t believe that. I also don’t think the complete reverse of that situation, i.e. that Jack will definitely return next summer.
As with most things in life, it’s a complicated situation, that relies on a number of variables.
What happens to Santi Cazorla?
I think this has a bearing on Jack’s future. It’s no surprise that Wilshere went on loan, when you look at the array of midfield options we have. Had Wilshere had a fully fit season and played plenty of games, I think he’d want to stay and fight for his place, but as someone returning from injury he’s hardly going to be considered ahead of the likes of someone like Santi. Cazorla has been great for us, but his contract runs out at the end of the season and if he doesn’t sign a new deal with us – perhaps preferring to return to Spain – then I think it gives a window of opportunity to Jack. The Spurs game and the Boro game showed us the need to have the player with the type of drive and burst that Jack has. Coquelin can disrupt, Xhaka can pass, but Jack would have brought something slightly different to both of our recent draws. Many of us were cursing the absense of Santi in those games, but if he goes at the end of the season, we need to have that spot as a deep-lying talisman to fill. Why can’t Wilshere do it?
The success of midfield partnerships
Thomas Vermaelen was overlooked when Big Per and Koscielny became an obviously successful pairing. At the start of the season Arsène was playing Santi and Coquelin ahead of anyone else and admitted that it was because he thought they worked well as a combination. People have spoken about how Xhaka and Ramsey might work as a duo given their respective styles. If, over the course of this season a new midfield pairing emerges as first choice, i don’t think we’ll see Wilshere in an Arsenal shirt again. He’s playing regularly at Bournemouth and is getting the game time he wanted to get back in to the England team. He’s not going to want to come back to Arsenal and be told to fight for his place for six months.
However, if no clear partnership has developed, I can see that Jack might look at the opportunity and see next summer as a chance to stake a claim. A lot will depend on injuries to the current set of Arsenal midfielders, as well as Jack’s own fitness, which leads me to my final point…
Staying injury free
This is the key one for Jack. If he stays fit and plays between 30 to 40 games this season, the ball is in his court. He can make a decision based on how much game time he’ll get, but he’ll also have Arsène desperate to get him to sign a new deal and stay at the club. I really hope he does manage to stay fit. We all love Jack and all want him to be a success, but I want him to be a success at Arsenal, not anywhere else.
To do that, he needs to do just what he’s doing now: stay away from the limelight outside of the football pitch, stay fit, build his confidence back up and return to us as one of the best midfielders in the league.
Like we know he can.
There’s still bugger all else going on, given the international break, so I’m offski for now.