In most Gooners’ eyes, Jack Wilshere can do very little wrong.
Jack has been at the club since the age of nine and, as a result, there are few players – if any – in Arsenal’s current team that fans cherish more.
He’s one of our own and, when he was coming through the ranks, he was tipped to be the English Andre Iniesta. For years, managers and players from around the globe hailed the midfielder as the best thing to happen to the England team for a long time.
However, in 2009 injuries struck. And they never stopped.
Since 2014/15, the 25-year-old has only made eight Premier League appearances for Arsenal.
When Jack returned from a second hairline fracture to his fibula in August, fans once again tried not to get their hopes up. With under a year left on his current deal, this season was crucial for his career and we all knew it.
However, he made a couple of appearances in the Europa League against BATE Borisov and Red Star Belgrade, and he looked sharp. By this stage, it was too late, our hopes were already sky-high. Jack received all the plaudits and finally we could begin to dream that he was set to return to the fold within the coming weeks. This was going to be his year, we thought, he will be an Arsenal and England legend, he’ll deny the odds, he’ll get his happy ending.
Jack’s sparse appearances, however, have begun to look lacklustre and it’s difficult to judge whether this is down to overall fitness, a lack of drive or whether he’s just not good enough to consistently perform at the top level.
I know this might be a blasphemous notion among Arsenal fans but if he still can’t manage a secure place in the starting XI after three months, will he ever?
Jack’s contract runs out at the end of the season and Arsene Wenger has made it clear that, while he’s a huge fan of the midfielder, it all comes down to game time, fitness and what’s best for the player. I’m quite sure Jack would love to stay at Arsenal and fight because that’s in his nature and he adores the club. However, would that help his career?
And I feel like Gooners shy away from admitting that maybe, just maybe Jack won’t amount to everything he was supposed to. It’s almost as if, because he’s ‘one of our own’, we’re desperately holding onto him by the fingertips in hope that he’ll become something great. He represents something that doesn’t tend to exist in modern football: loyalty. And it’s hard to think about him leaving, even if that means he’ll get more game time.
I’m a huge fan of Jack when he’s playing well. In fact, he right up there with Mesut Ozil as one of my favourite players to watch with and without the ball. However, if he can’t produce that sharpness and creativity consistently, I fear that he’s missed the boat. Perhaps injuries mean that that ship has sailed. Maybe he could have been the English Iniesta but now, at 25, I’m not sure he ever will be.