Alexis Sanchez was the ‘man of the moment’ when Arsenal edged past Besiktas in the Champions League playoff tie over two legs, but it was Jack Wilshere who was the best player for the Gunners.
That’s the opinion of former Leicester City and Derby County midfielder Robbie Savage, who wrote a column for The Mirror detailing why both fans and pundits should not take ‘cheap shots’ at Wilshere and ‘get off his back’.
‘Alexis Sanchez has already paid back his £33million transfer fee with the winner in Arsenal’s tense Champions League qualifier against Besiktas’, wrote the Match of the Day pundit. ‘But for me, the Gunners’ best player over the two legs was Jack Wilshere - and if nobody else is going to stick up for him, I’ll fight his corner’
Wilshere was indeed in good form for Arsenal over the two legs and played a key role in the winning goal at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday.
But the problem with the England international midfielder is that he has not done it often. He is still 22, but the Paul Scholes comparisons that he sparked when he burst onto the footballing scene as a teenager have faded.
A key reason, Savage explains, why Wilshere has failed to live up to the expectations is because he has not played enough matches.
‘But the bloke is still only 22 and has only made 49 Premier League appearances in the last three years’, wrote the former Wales international. ‘More than anything, he needs a run of games - not only to establish himself as a must-pick in Arsenal’s first team, but also to define his role in the side’.
Wilshere’s quest to make himself a regular in the Arsenal first team has not been helped by the injuries he has suffered from time to time, but perhaps there is a suspicion that, when fit, he has not done enough to convince manager Arsene Wenger that he is ready for the challenge.
A gifted central midfielder, Wilshere does have the potential to establish himself as one of the best players in the world. But to do that, he needs to take the chances he gets this season.
Arsenal have one of the most talented and competitive midfields in the Premier League, which means that Wilshere will have to fight for his place. But if Aaron Ramsey, who is just a year older than him, could do it, then why can’t he?
It is time for Wilshere to show what he is made of on a consistent basis, just as he did against Besiktas over the two legs in their Champions League playoff tie.