Jack Wilshere played his first 73 minutes of football since April on Monday night.
Wilshere was taken off against Tottenham back in April while on loan at Bournemouth.
The 25-year-old collided with Harry Kane and suffered another hairline fracture to his fibula.
Seeing as the first one kept him sidelined for 247 days – over an entire season – Arsenal fans didn’t hold out much hope that we’d ever see him play for the first team again. And I think most of us still feel that way, despite the midfielder recovering far quicker this time around.
Wilshere joined the Arsenal academy at the age of nine. He worked his way up and, after a season on loan at Bolton in 2010, if not before, it became apparent that the Englishman was more than just another academy product. He was very special.
Arsene Wenger summed him up perfectly when he said he had a Spanish style of play but an English heart.
He was compared to Arsenal legend, Liam Brady, as well as Barcelona’s Xavi and Andrés Iniesta.
He had vision and creativity, but also strengthen and passion. He was like a little terrier, if a terrier sometimes liked to run at people and do pirouettes around them.
He was tipped for big things… until the injuries struck.
With some players, it’s hard to pin-point where their fairy tale went sour. Was there too much expectation on his shoulders? Did stuff happen behind the scenes? Was it perhaps that ankle break?
But with Jack it’s easy. If he’d have stayed fit, he could have fulfilled his prophecy and more. And I can’t even begin to imagine what that must do to him.
Years of watching from the sidelines, pressure, hearing whispers that he would replace Santi Cazorla, being given the #10 shirt, tabloid speculation, being told he was the future captain of Arsenal Football Club, all came to a head when the 25-year-old decided to take matters into his own hands. He asked for a loan move because he knew he couldn’t get into the Gunners’ current starting line-up and he needed game time in order to recover.
This was his only chance.
Off to Bournemouth he went.
Jack made 27 appearances for the Cherries and got two assists before he got injured. He managed to stay fit for most of the season.
Result… Or was it?
While Jack created 34 chances in the Premier League and managed a pass completion rate of 84%, he didn’t really do a whole lot that warranted Arsenal thinking they’d made a mistake by loaning him out.
Just two assists from a player who’s supposed to be one of the teams’ most creative midfielders?
Plus, then he got injured again.
Arsenal don’t appear to have jumped at the chance to extend Jack’s contract, which, considering how big a fan Arsene Wenger is, speaks volumes about how they see him developing.
Given his excellent performance for Arsenal’s u23s on Monday night, however, it’s worth asking once again whether Jack can salvage something of his career with the Gunners?
With Santi likely to leave within the next year, is it worth hanging in there, just in case?
At first, it was reported that Jack did want to give it a go. However, it seems that the club’s reluctance to keep him has proven to him that he could be fighting a losing battle.
It’ll be a shame to see Jack go. He was another player that was destined for so much but his fairy tale ended before it even really began.