Arsenal’s search for a defensive midfielder continues having spent the majority of July trying to land German midfielder Sami Khedira. However, talks have broken down and now the Gunners are looking towards Morgan Schneiderlin and Lars Bender. Yet could Arsenal’s solution already be in the squad with Jack Wilshere?
Born and raised as an Arsenal fan, Wilshere has been a part of the Gunners set up since 2001. The dynamic midfielder joined Arsenal’s youth ranks at the tender age of nine. Wilshere went on to lift the FA youth cup in 2009 with the likes of Francis Coquelin and Swansea’s Kyle Bartley.
The 2010/11 season saw Wilshere make his breakthrough in to the first team, starting for the Gunners on 44 occasions in all competitions. The following season, Wilshere did not feature at all for Arsenal after suffering an ankle injury which had ruled him out. Wilshere made his return to the first team, 524 days later against QPR during the 2012/13 season where he made 26 appearances. However, niggling injuries halted the progression of the youngster and following the end of the season, Wilshere underwent further surgery.
During Arsenal’s FA Cup winning season, the 22-year-old featured 28 times for the Gunners, scoring five goals, his most noticeable against Norwich.
Wilshere started off as a attacking midfielder for the Gunners, equally adapt to playing on either wing. The 2013/14 season has seen the midfielder start deeper in midfield, but is often seen as the player who likes to break forward and attack.
His tough-tackling, aggression and combativeness could provide the much needed know-how to become a future defensive midfielder. However, comparing Wilshere’s stats to Schneiderlin don’t bode too well for the Englishman, with just 1.41 tackles won per game and 0.52 interceptions made. This figure is significantly lower than that of the Southampton midfielder who makes on average, 2.83 tackles per game and 2.21 interceptions. The French international also boasts a higher passing accuracy than that of Wilshere.
Should Arsene Wenger decide to deploy Wilshere in defensive midfield, you can probably expect a backlash from the Gunners faithful for not splashing out on Schneiderlin, who has Premier League experience. Other targets could include Bayer Leverkusen’s Bender who despite not having any experience in the Premier League, has played in the Champions League amongst some of Europe’s elite clubs.