Ray Parlour thinks Jack Wilshere is being held back because the players around him aren’t on his level, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain proves that.
Speaking on talkSPORT Parlour argued that the problem for Wilshere at the moment isn’t form or poor management, but the 26-year-old’s teammates.
“The big question is, is Jack playing around players who are on his level at Arsenal?” the former Gunner asked. “I’m not knocking Granit Xhaka or people like that. But now Oxlade-Chamberlain is playing in that Liverpool team he’s probably thinking, ‘I’m playing with top class players here’.
“I know you could say Mesut Ozil might be in the bracket, but Sanchez has obviously left now.”
Parlour also pointed to January signing Henrikh Mkhitaryan as another player close to Wilshere’s level. However, he said we need to see some consistency from the Armenian.
“With Henrikh Mkhitaryan, we’ll have to wait and see if he’s good enough to play week-in week-out and he puts the performances in.
“I just think questions will be asked if Oxlade-Chamberlain improves that much and maybe pushes himself into the England squad under Jurgen Klopp.”
Wilshere’s performances haven’t exactly made him look like he’s on another level recently. In fact, he was probably one of the poorest performers in Arsenal’s defeat to Östersunds FK. He didn’t stand out against Manchester City either, aside from his fights and sarcastically clapping the referee.
Personally, I think Parlour has it the wrong way round. For me, the 26-year-old is the one who needs to raise his game to reach his teammates’ level.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Mesut Özil and Aaron Ramsey are all in the bracket above him right now.
There’s no doubt that when Wilshere is on the ball, he can be great to watch. At times he glides past opponents and he plays off teammates impressively.
The problem is he doesn’t show that same level off the ball. He doesn’t drop deep to help the team play out from the back as much as he should, nor does he make much effort to shield the defence from counter-attacks.
That causes a lot of problems for Arsenal’s defenders, and it’s not like the England international makes up for it with a goal a game at the other end. He needs to do more, and that’s not up to his teammates, that’s up to him.