How to get the Best out of Jack Wilshire?

2 away games. 2 wins. 2 clean sheets. No Jack Wilshere.

One short sentence  packed with inference.

The return of Jack was heralded from high. Every red-top, every media outlet hailed the return of Arsenal’s midfield Napoleon, but what wasn’t considered was how he would affect the balance and organisation of the team.

jack wilshere

To be clear from the outset of this post, I am a huge admirer of Wilshere, he is the best English player I have seen since Mad Gazza and Perry Groves, but in my opinion Arsenal have yet to find out where and how he should play. Wilshere can single-handedly change a game; he can lift the tempo, slow the game, move the ball at pace, pass accurately and ingeniously , beat a player with the drop of a shoulder and slalom upfield. He can tackle as well as a DM, he has remarkable balance and we know from his youth (!!) he can score from distance.but …..

How many clean sheets have we had since JW returned? Just 5 from 26 games. And before? 4 from 12. (BR is awful with stats so if this is wrong…. sorry )

Now, it would be very simplistic to point to JW as the reason for our defensive frailties, he is just one cog in the machine, but the fact is we look more secure without him.

It appears that Arteta works better as a screening defensive midfielder when playing with Ramsey or Diaby than with Wilshere.

Could AW’s return to 4-4-2 be a nod to the problems raised by Jack’s inclusion?

Against Swansea Cazorla played in, what for me, is his best position, in the hole behind Giroud. We don’t need to see Santi defending around our penalty area – he needs to influence the game in attacking areas. With Ox playing deeper on the left and Diaby on the right there was better balance to the team. Was it because JW was absent?

Can and should Mr Wenger and his successor build The Arsenal around Jack, and if so, how? Because it seems to me that if we are to build a team around one player then it has to be Cazorla. He is the nearest to Cesc in the PL.

Jack’s youth and inexperience has to be factored in – time will show where he works best, when fit he just has to play. How else does he get experience?

Before you cyber-beat me up, this post is designed to question how we integrate England’s best prospect. At the moment I do not believe AW is getting the best from him.

This “injury” over the Interlull has come at a good time in Wilshere’s Arsenal career – it allows him to reflect upon his season’s work and how he can function best within the team. Furthermore, it will make Mr Wenger assess why the defence appears to be better without JW on the pitch.


I said “your man” …. you numpty

“2 clean sheets doth not a defence make” (Shakespeare. Taming of the Shrew). There is an improvement but it could equally be improved communication, the inclusion of Jenks or even (and most likely) the bounce of the ball. I realise that to blame Wilshere is simplistic but maybe ……

So, where do you think JW fits into the team, and who plays alongside him?

Written by Big Raddy


86 Responses to How to get the Best out of Jack Wilshire?

  1. 26may1989 says:

    Sorry, haven’t read this post yet, just need to answer something from Mr Didit re his competition post yesterday.

    He said:

    Come back right now you fool
    Rules quite clear, in the event of a draw, he’she who posted result first, wins.
    So far we have no two similar, until YOU. Same as Bayonne’s.
    As its you, change now.”

    Here is Bayonne’s prediction:

    Chelsea 73
    Arsenal 69
    Spurs 68

    And here’s mine:

    Arse 73
    Chavs 69
    Spuds 68

    Spot the difference?? 🙂

  2. Norfolk Gooner says:

    Good morning to you all,

    My immediate thought was that Wilshire is over loaded, he is expected to raise the tempo, pass, tackle, carry the ball forward, defend, score indeed he’s seen by some as a one man team all on his own. Too much for one so young.

    I think at the moment his best position is the one picked out by today’s, anonymous, author for Santi Cazorla, ie just behind the central striker.

    Relieving Jack of some of the defensive responsibility will decrease the number of bookings he gets and more importantly may reduce the number of injuries he is likely to suffer.

  3. Rasp says:

    Very interesting post Raddy, I had thought the same thing last week when we played Bayern.

    I guess every single player effects the dynamic of the team. When Jack gets the ball and drives forward and makes a quick short pass to a teammate, he makes the decision for the recipient = give it back to me. He does conduct play and drive play forward but maybe that sucks in too many other players and leaves us without sufficient cover at the back making us vulnerable to being hit on the break.

    AW got the call wrong for club captain (hindsight etc) Mertesacker should be our captain next season and maybe Jack a year or two later. It would be ridiculous to make Jack captain this early in his career whilst he is still developing on the pitch. Mert has shown recently that he is the leader on the pitch, he has calm control and more importantly reads the game better than any other player we have.

  4. MickyDidIt89 says:

    There were one or two “oop’s” yesterday, so just one more to the list!
    In which case, we had no two entries the same. Tidy 🙂
    If I don’t win, then I kinda hope you do, as being the only two with Anfield ’89 tied to our names, then with the prize being what it is, one of us winning would be somewhat “poetic justice”
    Right, post to devour

  5. Norfolk Gooner says:


    The captaincy is a poisoned chalice, Thierry Henry Captain and gone! The Homesick Spaniard Captain and gone! The Greedy Dutchman Captain and gone! Thomas Vermaelen Captain and catastrophic loss of form!

  6. Rasp says:

    It would seem so Norfolk. AW and I see the role of captain quite differently it would appear, my sole criterion would be that he is the most natural leader in the squad – not the best player.

  7. Norfolk Gooner says:


    I seem to remember a few seasons ago Wenger spoke of all his players being leaders, sadly since then they have all been leading in different directions.

    How we need a Tony Adams character!

  8. Morning all
    The captain its difficult as we have no real leader like Vierra or a Adams in the squad .
    My arsenal captain would have to speak fluent English and be a regular in the team so Jw is not ready for the role.
    I would make Arteta captain give him a bigger role until JW or KG are ready for the job.
    Much love
    Sheep Hagger ™

  9. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Too right about Perry Groves 🙂

    Ok, Jack.

    First up, I dont think there should ever be a definitive 1st X1, as different games, home or away, two-leggers and so on, call for different approaches.

    Second, the defence. We have improved here just recently, not in my opinion anything to do with Jack not playing, but purely because the defence has improved. The absence of Verm being the bigger factor.

    Can Jack and Santi play in the same side? In certain games, yes but, not with Arteta. For it to work we need a seriously world class DM. I like Arteta a lot, but he needs too much defensive help to afford the luxury of playing Santi and Jack.

  10. Young timo says:

    To me jack shud take the Dm role cos he can do it more bete than arteta and push arteta MD leaving santi at the central role

  11. MickyDidIt89 says:

    If this post doesn’t flush LB out, nothing will 😦

  12. 26may1989 says:

    Love the line “I am a huge admirer of Wilshere, he is the best English player I have seen since Mad Gazza and Perry Groves”!

    In what has been a frustrating and disappointing season, one of the things I’ve liked has been a return to a bit of tactical variation. There is a strong argument to say that the natural positions of Little Jack and even littler Santi overlap, and there will be games when one of them should sit out (or be conveniently injured, which is more likely for us). But there will be games when having them both on the pitch would be good.

    Is LJ a defensive liability? I don’t think so, though I’m sure he will mature positionally as time goes on, much as Paul Scholes has over his career. Arteta looked distinctly ropy for a few games but appears to have recovered some of his lego-like poise, and that may do as much as anything to explain better why our midfield has done better in defence.

    I tend to agree with you, that the natural thing to do would be to build the team around Santi for the next couple of years. But that would be in part to create the space for Wilshere to grow. When everyone and his dog was suddenly going mental about Jack earlier in the season, it seemed to me to be a little too much too soon – Wilshere has plenty to learn yet. He’s a very good player now but given the right opportunities, can become a proper great.

    Good post by the way, Raddy. I just wish LB were around, he has some strong views on the Wilshere question!

  13. Big Raddy says:

    Micky. You spotted my cunning plan 😀

  14. 26may1989 says:

    Bloody hell, Mr Didit and I of the same mind? Who wudda thought??

    And Micky, re your competition, I’d be ecstatic to see that lovely picture decorating a wall in my pad, so thanks for the kind wishes!

  15. 26may eyes off the picture please that picture would sit lovely in my house in the valleys

  16. MickyDidIt89 says:

    I imagine your house to be filled with wonderful artifacts from a multude of fascinating cultures from around the world. So it would just cap it all off nicely 🙂

  17. 26may1989 says:

    That be fighting talk, Sheep!

  18. 26may1989 says:

    Truth is Micky I do try to dot my house with lots of bits and bobs I pick up, but, without wanting to paint her as a battle-axe, let’s just say Mrs 1989 doesn’t always find space for the things I bring home….

  19. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Another thing on Jack, and in the context of Diaby.

    Yesterday, Oz posted a clip from Fever Pitch which showed the 92nd minute winner at Anfield.

    Now Mickey Thomas, my all time hero, made a dash the full length of the pitch deep into extra time in the vain hope a chance may appear. Would Diaby have done that?

    Jack would. There is not one game, or one scenario, where I’d ever pick Diaby over Our Boy.

  20. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Get a shed 26 🙂

  21. 26may1989 says:

    It’s full Micky!

  22. Vakuuy1 says:

    I think wilshere’s best position would be behind the main striker but still the team can’t be built around him for now, i just he could be deployed on the right, he played there a couple of times in his youth days.

  23. Vakuuy1 says:

    I think wilshere’s best position would be behind the main striker but still the team can’t be built around him for now, i just wish he could be deployed on the right, he played there a couple of times in his youth days.

  24. The picture would sit next to the photo of Johnny Vagas and me taken in BENNIDORM by the wife 3 years ago.

  25. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Your house has just rocketted to the bottom of my “desired destinations” list 🙂

  26. Red Arse says:


    Who is Vagass?

  27. kelsey says:

    This is a very hard post to answer as I expect to see quite a few changes in personel next season, in and out.

    I think there is a good argument not to play Jack and Santi in the same team unless Jack plays more a holding role and of course there is Diaby.
    Arteta may have one more good season in him and as stated above one picks a deiiferent team against different opposition.

    The armband shouldn’t be like a gold watch and in recent years it hasn’t meant much in leadership or giving others a bollocking so who have we got to do this ?
    Jack for sure but not for a few seasons,let him develop and get better,which he surely will.
    I honestly can’t see an outstanding candidate in the present squad.

  28. Big Raddy says:

    BFG is the outstanding candidate. (IMO).

    kelsey. I guess that was at the back of my mind when writing the post. Which is our best midfield combination?

    Ramsey is becoming an important player but there is no place for him, Diaby, Ox, Rosicky, Coquelin or Frimps in a team with a MF of Santi, JW and Legoman.

    I realise that rotation is desirable but more important is a settled first 11.

  29. Johnny Vegas google it RA he’s an comedian from England ,not the American golf pro of the same name .

  30. Red Arse says:

    Nice Post, Raddy 🙂

    I am a big Jack fan and have been for some years, and I think he can and will play in whatever role AW asks him to.

    We have a dearth of really high quality technical players in our first team squad, with Jack, Santi, Rosicky and Diaby possibly the best of the bunch with Oxo waiting in the wings.

    I do not see any reason to jettison either Jack or Santi, and perhaps you are not asking for this anyway, but gifted players, like the hordes they seem to have at both Barca and Real, can adjust their roles and accommodate the playing styles of other players, whether starting in the team or coming off the bench.

    Jack has the skill to play the creative role behind the forwards, and he has the determined mind set to operate in a more defensive role as an auxillary DM supporting and playing in front of the CBs.

    Personally, I have worried from the outset, while he was in the youth set up, that, because he is slight of stature, the required physicality of the defensive role, and his courage in throwing himself into sometimes foolish challenges, that this could see him incurring persistent injury problems which would harm his career in fairly short order.

    No. Just let our best two technical players do their thing, and they will learn from experience how to complement each other’s playing style, and Arsenal will reap the benefits.

    The two recent good results, and the impressive clean sheets, in Jack’s absence, is just a statistical blip, and a bit of a red herring to boot, which I think you know, and simply threw into the melting pot! 🙂

  31. Red Arse says:


    I am with you now, and I think I knew his brother Las.

  32. Big Raddy says:

    Vaakuy. Welcome to AA. I think JW is wasted on the right, but as you say, he has done in his youth.

  33. Rasp says:

    Hi Raddy, as I commented earlier, I’m with you in believing that the BFG should be captain next season. All the stats show that our defence is tightest when it comprises Mert and A.N.Other. Mert has shown in his recent interview regarding calling the defence together to examine videos that he is prepared top stand up and take charge and at 6ft 5in he has that imposing presence that captains require.

    Its very sad about TV but I do now think it would be best for all concerned if he could move on in the summer.

  34. Big Raddy says:

    RA. Mascherano (sp?) has shown you don’t need to be a giant to be a quality DM.

    & I stated my doubts about JW’s culpability in the penultimate sentence in the post 🙂

    Right —– a cold Carlserg awaits.

  35. kelsey says:

    Red Arse

    sorry i don’t agree with you when you say

    “We have a dearth of really high quality technical players in our first team squad, with Jack, Santi, Rosicky and Diaby possibly the best of the bunch with Oxo waiting in the wings.”

    History proves diaby and rosicky are injury prone and age is catching up with both of them especially Rosicky.
    The Ox to me is not suited to midfield

    I am still concerned over Ramsey since his near ending career fracture. He has lost a bit of pace quite understandably but recently played in the right position he seems to be improving. I will wait and see on that one.

  36. Need more posts all to fill the coming days, need one for tomorrow unless I’ve missed that someone has offered one.

  37. Red Arse says:

    Hi Kelsey, 🙂

    When I said we have a ‘dearth’ of high quality technical players, that meant we do not have enough of them. You appear to be agreeing with me, especially when you mention three of them have injuries, or are old, or are unsuitable, so that leaves just two of them – Jack and Santi.

    Taking your view – and I do not – that would mean we have even less than I was indicating. So with what are you disagreeing?

    Incidentally, Diaby is just 26 — so too old? Blimey.

  38. jnyc says:

    Im leaning towards agreeing with Micky about not playing santi, jack, and arteta together. I also like that because it forces Arsene to rest someone occasionally.

  39. jnyc says:

    Btw, very interesting article, Raddy

  40. kelsey says:

    I misunderstood you RA with the meaning of dearth.

    Diaby is nearly 27 and with the amount of muscular inuries he has had it has been stated that his physical age for a footballer is a lot older than his actual age,something to do with wear and tear.his agility is/has been affected and to be honest it shows.he has slowed down a lot.

  41. Red Arse says:

    Diaby may never be the same again, Kelsey, but he is worth persevering with, especially as he seems to be getting more game time.

    In my opinion, judged solely on skill, he is the best technical player we have, including Jack and Santi.

    As I said, you could be right, and his body will never be able to cope with that dreadful injury (a bit like Rambo’s) but if he does, it will all be worth it. This Summer I think AW will make a decision on what to do with him – twist or bust!

  42. RockyLives says:

    Interesting one BR.
    I agree with Micky that our recent wins and clean sheets are more down to dropping Tommy V than anything to do with Jack.

    But, that said, I had been pondering the issue myself. It seems to me that Jack and Santi both suit the same position (behind the front striker, or advanced central midfield) even though their styles are somewhat different.

    I think I agree with the theory that we could play them both if we had a Gilberto-like player behind them.

  43. Norfolk Gooner says:


    Empty the shed and put the wife in it, you will then have ample room in the house for all your artifacts AND it will be much quieter. 😀

  44. 26may1989 says:

    You’re a bad man, Norfolk, a very bad man! 🙂

  45. Norfolk Gooner says:


    Barca’s first choice centre back is Carles Puyol and he’s just 5ft 10ins (1.78m) so as you say size need not matter.

  46. Big Raddy says:

    So, we replace Arteta in order to accommodate both JW and SC?

    Doesn’t work for me. If we are to continue to set up 4-3-3 then we are forced into having the left sided attacker drop deep. This causes problems as we have sen this season with Podolski being neither fish nor fowl

  47. Big Raddy says:

    Norfolk. That is what I have said throughout my adult life …. it is not the size of your pen, it is what you write with it 😀

  48. Norfolk Gooner says:


    I don’t wish to boast but….

  49. Red Arse says:

    Norfolk, when you were told that size does not matter, did you get a sympathetic smile too? 😀

  50. kelsey says:

    Who said on TV whilst making love “he kept falling out”

  51. kelsey says:

    Clue; the guy with the stutter who was runner up in the X faxtor and she was Katie Price 🙂

  52. kelsey says:

    That’s it, katie Price as our holding midfield player,that would put the oppo off,but we most probably can’t afford her.

  53. neamman says:

    I dont see a connection between JW and 2 clean sheets. I see a definite link between the defense doing some serious homework and trying harder. If only they had done that in october!!

  54. Gooner In Exile says:

    Evening all, interesting post Raddy, as others have said defensive improvement in last two is probably a result of TV5 dropping and increased communication.

    As for Jack and his best position, well I believe while Santi is with us we may have to change our formation to get the best from our talent, I would still play a midfield 5 behind one up front, but I would not have wingers I would have a triumvirate of attacking midfielders (Santi, Jack and Ox) going where they please. And a holding two currently Arteta and Ramsey, probably Ramsey and Coq or Frimpong in the future.

  55. goonerjake says:

    I still see Jack as a box to box player. He is a all round midfielder, and I think he likes that role. The lynch pin.

  56. Who is writing the post for tomorrow?

  57. SharkeySuresGhost says:

    Box to box for me too…phenomenal talent. The absolute real deal. Part of me just wants to put Santi and Lil Jack behind Giroud and let everyone else sit back.

    Talking of Jack, hes referenced here:

    I manage my 12yr olds team and we’re going on Mon night as a team trip. 10 adults, 20 boys, under 90.00 in total incl postage of 5.00. Lol

    Cheers for the Interlull Special Randy

  58. SharkeySuresGhost says:

    From that article:

    That game – played in front of 11,610 – was notable for witnessing the first hat-trick scored at Emirates Stadium. Captain Jay Simpson, who now plays for Championship high-fliers Hull City, claimed the match ball as the Gunners saw off a young Cardiff side that featured Aaron Ramsey.

    The Gunners team included Kieran Gibbs, while Wojciech Szczesny was an unused sub. Lee Butcher, the starting goalkeeper, saved a penalty.

    That win set up a semi-final with Manchester United, and the first leg at Emirates set an attendance record for the FA Youth Cup which still stands. A total of 38,187 fans were there to witness a 1-0 win for Arsenal. Gibbs – playing on the wing – scored the only goal against a United side featuring Danny Welbeck up font and Tom Cleverley at left back.

    In fact there were more people at Emirates for that game than there were for the Tottenham first team’s UEFA Cup match being played the same night at White Hart Lane.

  59. SharkeySuresGhost says:

    IN BOLD:

    In fact there were more people at Emirates for that game than there were for the Tottenham first team’s UEFA Cup match being played the same night at White Hart Lane.



    Likewise our 60k for a Carling Cup match when Chelski had under half that for their CL the night before.

    I do love being a Gooner !!!

  60. goonerjake says:

    Arsenal 2 Man Utd 1 ok under twenty ones but has a nice ring to it

  61. oz gunner says:

    Interesting article BR. I have absolutely no idea where I would play him (just like Ox). He just appears to be the sort of player that would dominate in any position he is given. I would like him to have the Cesc role next to a very solid DM (Coquelin or someone like Wanyama). That way he can contribute both offensively and defensively (Box-to-box then i suppose).

    @ Micky and 26

    No collaborating over the competition or I’ll tell Rasp/Peaches. Also LB is working double shifts to save money for PPP and I to attend the Emirates after he lost a bet. Either that or Lance Armstrong has tracked him down and beaten the snot out of him. Or GM dismembered a cyclist who rode past his shop…it turned out to be LB

  62. oz gunner says:

    @ GiE

    hope the man flu has eased up, terrible things…so much more painful than those weaker versions Women get!

  63. Gooner In Exile says:

    Morning Oz, I’m off death watch now at least. But Mrs Exile seems to have moved me down the pecking order when it comes to being cared for.

  64. chas says:

    Interesting, BR, thanks.

    Perhaps Arsene should ask Woy where Jack’s best position is.
    He always seems to play well for Ingerland. 🙂

  65. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Morning all,
    Bloody hell that’s a small amount of comments for what I think is a barn stormer of a topic., and this is only day 4 of the break!
    For today, we could ask similar positional quetions about Ox.
    “The Ox…..Discuss”
    Has he improved?
    Best position?
    In what system?
    Out on loan?

  66. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Mind you, in Duck mode, maybe Woy knows the answer to this also 🙂

  67. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Right, going to drop children off early as they have a field trip.

  68. oz gunner says:

    Ox is another toughie Micky! Midfield,wing,AM, Henry like striker…I haven’t the slightest of ideas. I see him becoming a Jovetic type player where his best is playing just off the main striker (god we have a few of those don’t we?!)

    Loan? Nah, too good for that now. I think the pressure got to him this season (along with a few niggling injuries). He’ll be better for it though, he’s going to be an absolute gem. Those supporters who have slated him and listed him as ‘deadwood’ should be taken out back and disposed off.

  69. Gooner In Exile says:

    I’m with you Oz a little high on expectation after end of last season and summer trip to Euro’s which meant late back for pre season, plus those injuries you mention. Plus all change at the club which must be difficult for youngsters who aren’t established. Especially when those players signed are going to take your potential starting spot away.

    For me he is similar to Rooney with ball at feet and in terms of power. And I’m not sure Ferguson or England have ever used Rooney to his full potential. Back to goal does not suit them, picking the ball up and running at defenders from the middle third I think both canbe devastating, hence why my suggestion about Wilshere’s ideal position also includes him playing alongside Ox and Santi, they could have an awful lot of fun and all possess different attributes that would complement each other.

  70. Gooner In Exile says:

    Peaches a very sketchy wishy washy post in drafts for you.

  71. Big Raddy says:

    Morning All

    It does seem strange that there were so few comments on an interesting subject. Perhaps it was the ex-pat English!

    Micky. You raise an interesting point. Where does the Ox fit into this team?

    Oz. They aren’t supporters.

  72. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Oz and GiE
    Well, that’s today’s post dealt with 🙂

  73. Big Raddy says:

    GIE. So, a midfield 4 (witha DM). Who gets dropped … Podolski/Gervinho/Giroud/Ramsey?

  74. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Here’s another “Chat thought”
    Podolski: what’s the point?
    Mild ROLF

  75. Big Raddy says:

    I will knock together a post for tomorrow based upon the last few comments. Not Hamlet but better than nothing!

  76. Big Raddy says:

    Micky.Tomorrow I am off to Italy for a 10 day break (with London stopover).

    You will have to get busy with some posts 🙂

  77. MickyDidIt89 says:

    We need some new authors and input as well, Oh Daddy.

  78. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Weird Raddy, I’m off to Italy soon 🙂

  79. Big Raddy says:

    That is a co-incidence!

  80. Gooner In Exile says:

    Raddy I see it like this over next couple of seasons:


    Subs: Martinez, Coquelin (utility full back/DM), Miquel, Eisfield, Walcott, Gervinho, Podolski

  81. Gooner In Exile says:

    My post today may explain my team above.

  82. MickyDidIt89 says:

    I like, and see where you are coming from, but that side has no power, thrust or speed on the break.

  83. Big Raddy says:


  84. Rasp says:

    Morning all …….

    ……. New post ……

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