Welcome to the second installment of Ready Or Not. Yesterday we took a look at Jay Emmanuel-Thomas – today is the turn of Jack Wilshere.
Fate has handed this blog a bonus – as I sit down to write it I’m digesting both a chicken dhansak and the news that Joe Cole has opted to sign for Liverpool. Of those, only the latter has any relevance – but it’s significant. Arsenal were definitely interested in Cole, but only at the right price – and, crucially, with the right length of contract.
Cole has decided to take the lucrative Liverpool offer, and who can blame him – his four-year deal will earn him almost £20m. For Arsenal, however, it may be a blessing in disguise. Cole and Wilshere are similar players – short, stocky and creative. The former Chelsea man’s absence from the squad will create a spot which Wilshere might just be primed to fill.
Jack spent the first half of last season wrapped up in cotton wool, making the odd Carling Cup appearance and a solitary cameo in the league. In January, he moved to Owen Coyle’s Bolton on loan – and if Coyle gets his way, he’ll be returning this season. Bolton originally deployed him as a drifting left-winger, but he ended the season partnering another youngster with Arsenal in his blood, Fabrice Muamba, in central midfield.
I spoke to boltonboris of The-Wanderer.co.uk to see just how he fared in his time ‘oop north’.
How big an impact did JW make at Bolton?
Not a huge one by any means, but he improved our passing game by always being available for a pass, using his intelligence and his obvious confidence.
What are his main strengths and weaknesses as a player?
He’s confident (as mentioned), he has a great low centre of gravity making him harder to shrug off the ball than you’d expect. He’s got good technique and an eye for a pass. One bad point is his tackling – they obviously don’t practice getting the ball off opponents legally at your training ground. With Arsenal players it’s usually either a horror tackle or a complete miss, and Wilshere’s no exception.
What is his best position?
Middle of a midfield five – not much defensive responsibility – just let him roam, looking for gaps. He’ll keep plugging away without always succeeding.
Which top flight players does he remind you of?
Scholes of yesteryear, popping up all over the place always wanting the ball and making late runs into the box. He’s nowhere near as gifted as Scholes mind, and despite his youth, I can’t see him getting to that standard (no bad thing – Scholes is one of the true greats).
Do you think he could make it at Arsenal?
Definitely – unless he gets back into training and snaps everyone in sight. “I learnt that off Super Kev Davies,” he’ll say. Wenger will be horrified and demand Diaby break his leg immediately.
Gags aside, it’s clear Jack was well received up at Bolton. I’ve seen Wilshere play a fair few times both for us and Bolton, and I’d actually go further than boltonboris: he does have the potential to reach Scholes’ level. What he needs are the same opportunities that Scholes was afforded. He already has the ability. Could this be Jack’s year?
*thanks to Tangodancer of the-wanders for the Wilshere/Coyle image.