Simple question: who is more important to their team – Gareth Bale or Jack Wilshere?
The idea was discussed in the comments on Arsenal Arsenal a couple of days ago in response to Gn5’s Post about this season’s run-in.
Some people suggested that the loss of Bale through injury would be a blow from which Tottenham’s Champions League hopes could not possibly recover.
The implication was that Tottenham have become something of a “One Man Team” – the same charge that was leveled against us last year, when Robin van Whatsisname was scoring most of our goals.
Some polite and courteous Totts fans (yes, seriously) joined the discussion to suggest that we would be in the same boat should our own Jack Wilshere come a cropper.
It was an interesting debate and I can summarise the Arsenal supporters’ response fairly simply (it’s not what you’re thinking – this was a courteous discussion, remember?). It was: “If we lost Jack for a period of time it would be a blow but not a devastating one because we have other strong midfield options, including Santi Cazorla, Arteta, Diaby, Rosicky, Coquelin and Ramsey.”
On the other hand, if you look at Tottenham, Bale has been scoring at better than a goal every other game for them this season. He has 15 in all competitions in 29 appearances. The Spuds’ only other serious goal threat is Defoe, who has 14 from 32 games. Remove Bale from the equation and the Totts would suddenly look very toothless up front.
There is no question that both Wilshere and Bale are gifted players. We Arsenal types may make fun of the Spurs man and the fact that his best friends are Tarzan and Dian Fossey, but we would probably all be very pleased with him indeed if he wore a cannon on his shirt and not a chicken perched on a basketball.
Wilshere, meanwhile, is already being talked of as a future Arsenal and England captain. Whatever Spuds fans might say about him now, you know they would love him in their team.
However, one area of difference between Bale’s importance to Spurs and Wilshere’s to Arsenal is that if you asked Tottenham fans to say who was their most important player I bet virtually everyone would opt for Bale.
If you asked Arsenal fans the same question, Wilshere might well be the top answer but he would certainly not be an overwhelming winner. Santi Cazorla, Walcott and Arteta would all (I suspect) get a lot of votes.
No doubt there will be many surprises between now and the end of the season. Injuries, fixture congestion, form and confidence will all play their part.
If Bale and Wilshere both stay fit they will surely have an impact on their teams’ respective prospects of a top four finish.
But if either gets injured… what do you think?
For me, a Bale injury would make it very, very tough for Spurs. A Wilshere injury would be more manageable for Arsenal.
Note to Spurs Fans: Arsenal Arsenal welcomes your comments on this subject if they are non-abusive. We have had friendly debates with Spurs fans in the past and are happy to do so again, but abusive comments will be deleted.