There is one name Arsenal supporters repeatedly look towards when phrases such as loyalty, strength and determination are banded about and that name is Jack Wilshere. Arguably one of the finest natural English talents of his generation with his performance against Barcelona in the 2010-2011 campaign catching the eye of many a Spanish footballing aficionado, Jack Wilshere has become somewhat of an enigma with his name being whispered almost in hearsay with the midfielder having missed a sizeable amount of football over the past three seasons as a result of repeat injuries leaving many to believe his place in Roy Hodgson’s World Cup squad next summer is in considerable jeopardy.
Whichever way you look at things Jack Wilshere has been poorly managed, he has often been rushed back from injury due to the fact in terms of number, Arsenal’s midfield is weak with Abou Diaby being unreliable in terms of fitness and the departures of Cesc Fabregas and Alex Song have also taken their toll on the strength in depth of the Gunners’ midfield. Furthermore, once rushed back, Wilshere is then overworked with the England midfielder often being asked to play three to four successive games which is simply too much for a man of Wilshere’s questionable fitness.
Even at the close of last season Jack Wilshere was again struggling with fitness with Arsene Wenger confirming that Wilshere would miss the final matches of last season with an ankle injury that would require summer surgery to rectify. Wilshere has since returned to the first team fold on Arsenal’s pre-season tour and has come through several matches without any fitness worries however if Arsenal are to not make any significant moves in the transfer market it will only be a matter of time before Jack Wilshere is again overworked and injured much to the detriment of not only Arsenal Football Club but also his chances of going to the World Cup in Brazil.
In signing Santi Cazorla, Arsenal made a fantastically clever move. Cazorla sitting in the number ten role just behind Olivier Giroud brought back the creativity lost with Samir Nasri’s departure and more to Wenger’s forward line. Cazorla settled quickly to the Premier League and was undoubtedly a key part of Arsenal securing yet another top four finish with the former Malaga playmaker contributing twelve goals and eleven Premier League assists according to statistics provided by ‘WhoScored.’ With Cazorla operating either on the left hand side or the number ten role there was little protection provided for the deeper central midfielders however with Mikel Arteta and Abou Diaby beginning the season as the central pairing after Alex Song’s transfer to Barcelona and Jack Wilshere’s injury troubles kept him out of the beginning of last season.
This midfield partnership was successful until Diaby picked up yet another long term injury which would keep him out for the remainder of the campaign. Jack Wilshere would eventually return but was as previously mentioned overplayed due to the lack of strength in depth Arsenal had in the deeper midfield areas. Now there is a relatively simple, well not simple if you look at events thus far this summer but it is easy to see a way in which the pressure could be taken off Jack Wilshere and that is to sign Luis Suarez.
Make no mistake, Luis Suarez is an outstanding footballer, his pace, close control and ability to beat a man with a quick turn of pace put him right up there with the elite attacking footballers in Europe at this time. Suarez in terms of footballing ability as Jamie Carragher says, “Should be playing in a team which challenges for the Champions League.” Suarez can be deployed as a striker, he is a nuisance to defenders, snapping at their heels forcing a mistake with an outstanding ability to score from an improbable angle making him an incredibly difficult player to defend against.
Now onto Arsenal, Luis Suarez can be utilised just as effectively in the aforementioned number ten role, he can beat a man and draw defenders out of position before playing a clever reverse pass to a centre forward positioned further forward who now finds himself in space. Suarez is very creative, he can find himself in a tight corner surrounded by two or three defenders and still manufacture a way to wriggle out of the danger and break into space, he has illustrated this on several occasions against Manchester United, particularly in his first appearance against United at Anfield.
This would be fantastic for Arsenal, Suarez situated just behind Olivier Giroud would not only take pressure of last summer’s new recruit but it would also allow Giroud to concentrate on getting into goalscoring positions in the box and find himself on the end of chances created by Suarez. Arsenal will once again become hard to defend against as defenders will be unsure of whether to break rank and try and shackle Suarez which in turn leaves Giroud in space, as well as this if an opposition feels they need to restrict Suarez’s creative flow they may use a holding midfielder to track the Uruguayan’s movement but this will then leave a gap in their midfield which Arsenal could manipulate using Arteta, Wilshere and Cazorla.
Now you are probably thinking, how on earth does this help Jack Wilshere? Well if Suarez was to be positioned as Arsenal’s number ten which I feel on most occasions he would be, then Santi Cazorla will be forced to play deeper in the midfield alongside Arteta. Cazorla has proven not only during his time with Villarreal and Malaga but also in his debut campaign in English football that he has a truly impressive eye for a pass. Cazorla can sit in the middle of midfield almost in the mould of Paul Scholes and just look to spread passes across the breadth of the pitch in order to create chances for Arsenal. With Arteta as the holding midfield just alongside or behind him Cazorla would have the freedom to play his calculated game from the middle of the midfield.
This would give Arsenal an increased strength within the midfield, both in terms of quality and depth. With Cazorla able to play in the centre of midfield without leaving a gaping hole of quality in the number ten role with Suarez now filling there, Jack Wilshere will have the opportunity to be eased back into Premier League action and then once back playing he will not have to be overplayed as Wenger can rotate between the trio of Arteta, Cazorla and Wilshere. This school of thought would have been exactly the same had Stevan Jovetic been brought to the Emirates if Arsenal had not wisely baulked at Fiorentina’s initial £27million asking price at the beginning of the summer but Suarez whilst more expensive would add Premier League experience and a more reliable source of input than Jovetic who does appear at times rather streaky in terms of consistency.
Wenger has an outstanding midfielder at his disposal in Wilshere, he can pass the ball as well as any of Spain’s starting eleven but he also has the gritty tough nature of an archetypal English central midfielder very much like Bryan Robson making him a incredibly useful player for both club and country provided he is fit. Wenger has to recognize this and look after him accordingly, with the amount of injuries he has already had at just twenty one years of age it is likely Wilshere will be susceptible to further knocks and setbacks however if Wenger was to add to the his squad with Suarez and possibly other players it would not only have a huge impact on Arsenal’s overall quality but it would protect and more than likely bring out the very best of their most valuable asset, Jack Wilshere.