Jack Wilshere – A Little Bit Of Spain Made In England
Analysing Arsenal’s 20-year-old midfielder Jack Wilshere and his comparisons with Spanish and Barcelona stars Xavi and Andres Iniesta. Who is he most like?
Imagine you are a footballer, a young footballer, you don’t play much, if at all, for eighteen months. You start in the midfield mayhem of a Premier League London derby. Most would settle for a moderately effective afternoon, largely on the periphery, getting some game time in the legs and escaping further injury. Jack Wilshere isn’t like most footballers. During the period he was on the pitch he was centre-stage against QPR. The most creative force on view and a sight for sore eyes for Arsenal fans – but not only Arsenal fans.
This is not only a story for the local news bulletin. England fans should rejoice too. Amongst the current crop of eligible England players Wilshere is unique. Who else would play alongside the wonderfully gifted Santi Cazorla and look his technical equal? Who else could show Cazorla that he has a little bit more than the wee Spaniard in his constant driving forward with and without the ball?
Cazorla himself is highly rated at home, perhaps the more so since he has illuminated the Premier League. He, with others, suffers from being in a long queue (albeit at the front) behind Iniesta and Xavi. So how does Wilshere compare with the two maestros? Pep Guardiola the former Barcelona manager said of him that they had many as good if not better in Spain. That may be true to the extent that no team these days seems to be complete without the statutory Spanish ball playing artiste. I suspect he had domestic reasons of his own at the time for the statement. Even given the current riches arguably only Iniesta and Xavi are truly his rivals. And let’s remember that Jack is still only 20!
Wilshere does have Xavi’s ability to control the pace of a game. As he did for long periods against Xavi himself and Barcelona in the 2- 1 Champions league win a couple of seasons ago. As with both Spaniards Wilshere also has the ability to hurt the opposition deep in their own territory.
Of the two Spanish geniuses Wilshere resembles Iniesta most in style. Apart from the expected technical excellence he has the Spaniard’s ability to take the ball on the half-turn and thereby inject pace into moves. He attacks the edge of the box like Iniesta. His ability to pick a pass or a one-two in congested areas is also reminiscent of Iniesta. They can both drift past defenders at ease, both make runs into the heart of the opposition forcing midfielders and defenders alike into areas they do not wish to go.
It is staggering that many pundits had Wilshere down as a defensive midfielder. Capello pontificated on it and he wasn’t alone. Even the Makalele roll was mentioned. He may end up there with age and experience but can you imagine in Spain a similar notion, putting Andres Iniesta in front of the back four?
Of course a bigger question is why is Jack Wilshere so different from all his English contemporaries? It would be seen as laughable to compare, say ,Tom Cleverly with those two Spanish greats. Or Jake Livermore…only joking! Is St. George’s Park the answer? Who knows at this stage? What is certain is that unusually for a club player Jack is every bit as important to the future of England as he is to Arsenal.
How important do you think Wilshere is to Arsenal and England? Get involved in the comments section.
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