by Lewis Ambrose
Jack Wilshere has had more than his fair share of injury trouble in recent years, so a strong pre-season is crucial for the midfielder this summer.
Pre-season is, of course, an important time for each and ever player but you get the impression that it is particularly needed by Wilshere as he seeks to consistently get on the pitch this season. Since breaking into the Arsenal team back in 2010 he has failed to feature in more than 25 Premier League games in a season.
Last season saw Wilshere consistently in the Arsenal team until an injury suffered against Manchester United in November saw him sidelined for five months.
Wilshere was one of only a handful of players to play in both games during the Barclays Asia Trophy, and the only player to start both matches. He scored a penalty against Singapore Select XI to put Arsenal 2-0 up and started in a wider role against Everton as Arsenal won 3-1 in the final of the tournament.
“I thought we looked really fit today, as we did against the Singapore Select XI,” Wilshere told Arsenal Player after the win over Everton.
“It was a different test – Everton started well.
“They liked to keep the ball, so we didn’t really want to give the ball away and, if we did, we wanted to win it back straight away.
“We did that brilliantly. They started to tire in the second half and our fitness levels really showed through.”
The trip to Asia will have been good for the squad as they built their fitness levels in extremely challenging conditions. The country is hot and humid, the air in England will feel very easy to breathe when the players return to continue pre-season.
Individually, pre-season is doing Wilshere a lot of good and he was quick to praise the fitness staff at Arsenal.
“I’m feeling good. I’ve been back in training for two weeks now. I’ve played two games and there are another two games coming up next weekend after another tough week of training, so I’m feeling good,” said the 23 year-old midfielder.
“I think you feel better day by day. The fitness staff here are really good. They make the sessions individualised, so they know what you need in your position.”
The fitness staff assigning training for each individual player is interesting and certainly useful. Each player will have his own strengths and weaknesses that should be focused on. Those focuses should also rely on what type of movement players need to practice – the fitness coaches shouldn’t be aiming to improve lung capacity but ready the muscles, joints, ligaments for the sort of twists and turns that they will be used for throughout the season.
“Each session gets harder and harder. I’m feeling better and better and hopefully that can continue.”
For years now Arsenal have struggled with injury problems but a big effort is being made to put that right. Jack Wilshere is an interesting case to watch out for as Shad Forsythe – who has now been joined by sports performance specialist Barry Solan and physio James Haycock – continues to build on his work with the squad.
It is fantastic that Arsenal are being more proactive in this area, and will only benefit the entire club.