A lot of Arsenal fans were bemused, baffled and bewildered when their prodigal son, Jack Wilshere, was shipped to Bournemouth on loan for the 2016-17 campaign, basically to prove his worth and to show that he could still pave his way into the jam-packed and star-studded Arsenal midfield in the future. Was it long time coming or was it a result of a bluff? Frankly speaking, it must have been a nasty punch below the belly for Wilshere, for he had otherwise been used to being pampered and hyped by the Arsenal faithful.
In the famous (err!) ‘British Core’ of Arsenal, if there has been a series of non-fulfilment of promises that were once made by them; it is, unarguably, Jack Wilshere who has been the best at disappointing. The then teenager, who was once compared to Xavi, was taken out of the loop by a series of injuries which made him fall into the clutches of mediocrity. A loan move always implies that one is surplus to the needs of the club, and ouch! It must have hurt Jacky Boy.
But what might look like a curse at the onset need not necessarily be one. Under the tutelage of a young manger in Eddie Howe, the scenario is completely different for the English international, and maybe Arsène Wenger knew what he was doing with an asset which he so dearly adores. In a side that preaches a brand of football which is so very close to how the Gunners operate with, Wilshere has rekindled the fire in him to re-establish himself in the top tier of English football. And honestly, if he keeps doing what he has done so far for the Cherries, his parent club would welcome him back with open arms.
The life is less glamorous at the Vitality Stadium, though it has allowed the 25-year-old to flex his muscles, find his form and stay averse to injuries which have frequently blighted his career. He has bagged no goals or assists in 15 league appearances he has made for the South Coast side, so one is bound to wonder why he has been subject to the recent appraisal. It may come down to the perception that Wilshere has been displaying reminiscence of the baby-faced assassin we once knew of.
He has been the heartbeat of Howe’s midfield, making those short accurate passes with a healthy pass accuracy of 85% and building the game from the centre of the park. He has created as many as 22 chances and he has been sheer brilliant with the technicalities of the game irrespective of whether he was with the ball or without it. Sharpness has been the most potent weapon in the armoury of the lad and no wonder why Howe is so much impressed with him.
The absence of Santi Cazorla has hit the North London outfit considerably and it was probably Wilshere who could have nullified the harm. At Bournemouth, Wilshere has brought a lot of flexibility to the club and influenced the way they ply their trade which has made them find a place in the top half of the league table. Time and again, he has opened the opponents’ defence, got himself involved in the game and has been penetrating into the final third with a magnificent aura.
A contract extension to tie him to the Emirates Stadium looks very much on the cards for Wilshere after considering the way he has faced the challenge in an unfamiliar territory. With more minutes under his belt already at Bournemouth than he has had in the last two seasons at Arsenal, there has been something prudent about his loan move which has brought back the thirst, unparalleled energy, comfort and skill of the supremely talented midfield gladiator once again.
Statistics Credits: Squawka.