5 Things Jack Wilshere Needs to Do to Become an Arsenal Great
Arsene Wenger has said that Jack Wilshere has scored the best goal he has ever seen and that the 22-year-old could be England's answer to Zinedine Zidane, but what does the midfielder have to do to become an Arsenal great?
Back in October, the Gunners demolished Norwich City 4-1 with Wilshere opening the scoring after 18 minutes. The goal was breathtaking in its beauty, and Le Prof was quick to say as much to the waiting media, as per the Metro, when he claimed it was one of the best he had ever seen.
All the goals were great, but the first was exceptional and improvised.
It was certainly one of the best goals, one I enjoyed the most because it was a team goal.
This one was a mixture of technical quality, speedy thinking, quick reaction and as well as being calm in front of goal.
It had everything you want to have, it was a great goal.
Wenger was not wrong.
Back in 2009, the Arsenal manager compared Jack with a young Wayne Rooney to the Guardian, and last September, Wenger told The Independent that Wilshere had everything to go on to become England's answer to Zinedine Zidane.
It's fair to say that the Frenchman is not afraid to heap expectation upon the youngster's shoulders.
Wilshere has been with Arsenal since he was nine years of age and is already something of a club legend. However, does he have what it takes to become an Arsenal great and be spoken about in the same hushed tones as Thierry Henry, Liam Brady, Peter Storey, Tony Adams and Dennis Bergkamp?
Here, Bleacher Report offers five things Jack Wilshere can do to become an Arsenal great...
Establish a Position
Ask any two Arsenal fans where Jack Wilshere's best position is, and chances are they will give you two different answers.
Glenn Hoddle and Arsene Wenger are two of the most respected football philosophers in the game, and even they don't agree on the English international's future.
Hoddle told Topman's online magazine:
He is a really good player. He could be a great player. But there’s aspects of his game that he’s got to improve.
I just hope Jack gets an opportunity to play in a three in midfield rather than four across [or deeper].
While Wenger told Arsenal's Twitter page, as per ESPN:
His best position is as a deep-lying midfielder, where he can be a distributor. He has a good burst and vision.
Fabio Capello told The Telegraph in 2011 that he also sees Wilshere's future as a deep-lying player:
I want to put him in this position in front of the back four. I have to decide because he's so young, he would stay alone in midfield and that can be dangerous.
I think he's mature enough to play this role. He's a really interesting player. When he started, in some moments he played without big confidence. He was timid, shy. Now every game he improves a lot, he plays with confidence, without fear and he tackles to win.
Wilshere is better technically than Makelele. He's slower than Makelele, but when he receives the ball, he is more dangerous than Makelele.
For what it's worth, Wilshere told Sky Sports in January that his best position was somewhere in between.
I'm not really a defensive midfielder, I'd say I was an attacking midfielder, but if you're going to be one of those, you're going to have to create goals and score goals.
You see the best midfielders in the past doing that, like Lampard and Gerrard.
This season has seen young Jack play in at least five different positions, and rarely has he featured in the two positions he is most linked to. He only plays in central midfield when the likes of Aaron Ramsey and Mathieu Flamini are rested, injured or suspended.
Wilshere is an excellent continuity player, as Capello suggested, but his range of passing, positional play and mobility could improve quite a lot.
Until this aspect of his game gets better he will not be regarded as a true central midfielder, and until then he will not become an Arsenal great.
Combine His Spanish Technique and His English Heart
Both Cesc Fabregas and Arsene Wenger agree that Jack Wilshere possesses the best footballing aspects of two opposing cultures in that he has Spanish technique and an English heart, as per Arsenal's official website.
There is no doubting Wilshere's technique. He has superb control and vision and works very hard for his team. Where his game does lack is around defensive positioning and mobility.
Positional play will come with experience, especially in a destructive sense. However, Arsene Wenger needs to work on this now if he has decided that Jack's future is as a deeper-lying midfielder. There, his key responsibility, in this Six Sigma mad footballing world, will be a defensive one.
What Wilshere seriously needs to work on is his mobility. As a small and stocky player, he is almost 5'8" with a low center of gravity; he will never be the quickest player on the pitch. When dribbling he has the skill to best the first man but rarely the second man in a direct sprint.
Wenger needs to improve Wilshere's movement skill set to make the player far more mobile so that he covers the ground in a fluid motion.
If this can be achieved then his positional skills will automatically fall into place. This will then lend toward better distribution when on the ball and better support play.
He is a player with almost everything a midfielder could want; all Wenger has to do is to polish those rough edges.
Become an England Regular
Part of Jack Wilshere's evolution for Arsenal includes becoming a regular at international level.
At present, Wilshere is alone in a field of English central midfielders who can't pass the ball 10 yards without giving the opposition a 50/50 chance of winning it.
Wilshere can become Roy Hodgson's midfield lynchpin for years to come, beginning with the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Considering the type of player that Wilshere is, he could be one of the revelations of the month-long summer tournament.
If Hodgson can put the right players around the Arsenal man, England could progress further than many expect. In Wilshere it has a player who can dictate the tempo of matches.
Sure he has deficiencies to his game, but if Wilshere becomes the main man for England, his performances will endear him to Arsenal fans and force Arsene Wenger to select him.
Therefore, his international career becomes an important element for his Arsenal future.
Add Goals to His Game
Simply put, Jack Wilshere needs to add more goals to his game.
In a wide-ranging interview with Matt Lawton in the Daily Mail, the midfielder admitted that his goals-to-games record was a joke.
He is not wrong.
In over 140 games as a full professional, he has only scored 11 goals, according to Soccerbase, and five of those have come this season!
Going forward, Wilshere needs to be braver in front of goal and play with more conviction. We all know he has superb vision and is a creative genius who resembles a young Xavi Hernandez.
Become the Leader His Club Needs and Deserves
It's fair to say that Arsenal have not had a real leader on the pitch since Patrick Vieira left the club.
The Frenchman was everything to all men and a superb player too. Arsene Wenger's technical template for a player has not discovered a real leader for some time. Wilshere should step up and become what his team needs and deserves.
Wilshere is not fazed by the importance of games. He generally puts in a huge shift regardless of the opposition. He has often been outplayed and out-battled, but he has rarely been a bystander.
He has all the skills to be a top-class player with a little work, but if he wants to become a true great, he needs to improve the mental side of his game.
Roy Keane was a far lesser player than Wilshere skill-wise. However, the ex-Manchester United and Ireland captain's character, mentality and on-pitch personality would have dwarfed Wilshere. As a result, Keane was one of the best, most consistent and effective players the Premier League has ever seen. The same can be said of Vieira.
If Wilshere wants to become a real leader of men, he must become indomitable.
Do that, and he will move mountains.