Next up in our player review is everyone's favourite English midfielder, Jack Wilshere (aka Jack the Lad, Jack Russell Terrier).What a season for Jack Wilshere. The 19 year old burst onto the scene in August, grabbing an Arsenal starting position, an England cap and never looking back. By season's end, he'd won the Arsenal.com Player of the Year award, won the PFA Young Player of the Year award, was in the PFA team of the season, and won the prestigious The Short Fuse's Breakout Player of the Year (and finished second in Player of the Year). His range of passing was superb, and competed the 3rd most dribbles per game among Arsenal players (and made the second most dribbles overall). All of this was done while learning a new position, as he formed a double pivot with Alex Song. This double pivot gave Arsenal more defensive solidity throughout the year, and Wilshere performed the role with aplomb, switching the deeper role with Alex Song from time to time and allowing the Cameroonian to get forward more often.
Who could've imagined all of this when Wilshere debuted against Liverpool back in August? At the time he looked hesitant and a bit nervous, and made a poor backheel that lead to David N'Gog scoring. With Alex Song returning, he may have gone back to the bench, but Song was forced to play in defence, and Wilshere never looked back. After not starting against Sam Allardyce's Long Ball men, he started and starred against the club he went on loan to, Bolton, and kept his place against Braga, where he made a lovely backheel pass for Marouane Chamakh. He made a stunning 110 passes against Tottenham in the Carling Cup, and was greatly missed when he didn't start against West Bromwich Albion. He made another backheel assist in the Champions League, this time for Andrey Arshavin, and starred against Chelsea and Birmingham in the absence of Cesc Fabregas. In that Birmingham game though, he displayed a streak of poor tackles, as his high studs up challenge got a deserved red card. Wilshere got his first Champions League goal against Shakhtar, and also assisted in the away fixture, playing a great diagonal for Theo Walcott to run onto and slot away.
Wilshere excelled again when returning from suspension, scoring against Aston Villa, and impressing against Chelsea again. He again displayed a bit of a nasty streak, but, I don't think many Arsenal fans will mind when the victim was Patrice Evra. Finally, in Arsenal's greatest performance of the season, at home to Barcelona, Wilshere excelled, showing excellent passing, positioning and tackling. Against Xavi, Iniesta and Busquets, Wilshere did more than hold his own, and was the standout Arsenal performer, along with Laurent Koscielny. And, as the Arsenal players went down injured one by one, Wilshere remained constant, despite fears of burnout. He did seem to lose some effectiveness as Arsenal declined, but given he made over 50 appearances and is just 19, he can be forgiven for that. Thankfully, he missed out on the England Under 21s, but, in his final match of the year, against Switzerland, his mazy dribbling run showed us what he'd done all year for Arsenal.
Ted's Emoticon: :D