Whilst the 21-year-old has been hailed as his club and country’s savior and the future of English football since he burst on the scene at just 17 years of age, there are still some areas for the youngster to develop if he is to fulfill his immense potential.
Wilshere has been compared to current England captain Steven Gerrard on numerous occasions and the captain himself believes Wilshere has everything it takes to become his successor for his country.
At the moment he is already a fantastic leader on the pitch but, to get to that world-class national team captain level that he seems on his way towards, he needs to be able to take the game by the scruff of the neck and just get the ball in the back of the net at all costs.
At the moment he does try to lead by example but his finishing means he doesn’t have the confidence to strike on goal himself. If he can improve his finishing, he really will be able to lead by example without relying on his teammates who invariably aren’t on his world-class wavelength.
Comparisons with Gerrard are apt at club level as well as international level – Wilshere is going to have to carry Arsenal this season at the very least. He needs to take on Gerrard’s Liverpool ethic of ‘if you want something done right, do it yourself’.
Equally, something Wilshere has yet to add to his skill set is shooting from distance – something Gerrard and Chelsea’s Frank Lampard have up their sleeves.
When Arsenal’s ticka-tacka possession football isn’t penetrating the opposition defence, sometimes you need a midfielder to just whack it in the back of the net from outside the box. If he can take some tips from Arsenal teammate’s Mikel Arteta and Santi Cazorla on long-range technique, he could really cause some problems for goalkeepers in the future.
Much the same can be said for his set-piece delivery. His corners are decent but his free-kick taking needs to improve – he’s got the talent, he just needs to watch some Robin van Persie, Cristiano Ronaldo or Didier Drogba videos and study the technique and perfect it with practice.
As well as his finishing, I still believe he can improve his passing – he puts in some exceptional incisive balls in the final third and has the vision and ability to carve out chances from nowhere and nothing.
But there are still lapses in his concentration in the centre of the park where he occasionally gives the ball away and that can be dangerous from a defensive point of view.
No one’s perfect, obviously, even his former team captain at Arsenal Cesc Fabregas was prone to a mistake or two but, if Wilshere really wants to be the best in the world, he needs to aim for the successful pass rate of Barcelona’s Xavi.
That’s the bar that has been set and, I believe with more focus on technique and long hours spent on the training ground, Wilshere can emulate the Catalan creator.
Like Barca’s maestro Wilshere isn’t the biggest of footballers and, despite the success of players like Fabregas, Manchester City’s David Silva, and Manchester United veteran Paul Scholes, small midfielders get roughed around in the Premier League a lot more than they do in La Liga.
Wilshere clearly used his 17 months sidelined through injury to build up his upper-body strength and, upon his return, it was visible that he’d buffed up a bit.
I still think he gets bundled off the ball a lot though and in England referees don’t always give the foul so he could use some more muscle to boost his power and strength and make him more of an enforcer in the middle of the pitch.
One thing you certainly can’t fault him for is his aggressive mentality and determination – he is easily Arsenal’s most committed player (which isn’t all that hard presently) and I have no doubt that his squaring-up to men 10 years older than him and a foot taller is something Arsenal have desperately lacked and craved since the departure of Patrick Vieira.
However, there will be times when he’ll need to show more discipline and maturity – something that only experience at the highest level will foster. His argy-bargy and handbags at dawn are sometimes a welcome burst of energy for his team but there will be times when the manager needs him to remain calm, collected and in control for the team.
Jack Wilshere can, and likely will, become the next England and Arsenal captain – he can lead his club and country to greatness and glory but he needs to work hard, continue with his development, add some extra skills to his game, and, most importantly, stay fit.
image: © Ronnie Macdonald