By Walter Broeckx
In an article in the Daily Telegraph yesterday under the header: “Jack Wilshere: I want to play in holding role for Arsenal like I do for England, but Arsène Wenger will not let me”.
Now that is what I call an interesting question. Could he? Would he? Can he? Will he?
Playing Jack as a DM midfielder raises a few questions. But can we find conclusive answers for them.
To play in the Defensife Midfield role for Arsenal it takes different levels of skills depending on if you are a supporter (and even then we have two sets of mind) or depending on being the manager.
Let us start with the supporters. As that is the only way most of us look at football.
For some a DM has to be “the beast”. +6ft and no need of a brain as long as you can run around for 90 minutes like a madman and kick the opposition to shit during that. If that brainless madman also can keep the ball in the team or play a good pass is of secondary importance for them. As long as we have a tough tackling beast they are satisfied.
If we look at those criteria I don’t think Wilshere will be good enough. Wilshere is not that big. In fact he is even smaller than I am and I am certainly no giant. Ok, I do admit there is only 1 cm difference between me and Jack but I never would be considered to be the beast of a DM so in that way Jack will not be good enough.
Of course we know that Jack doesn’t shy away from a hard tackle every now and then. And he could be a bit over the top on times also. But come to think of it he seems to have cooled down a bit on that part and that will probably come from getting a bit older (still very young of course from the point in the time line where I stand).
Other supporters of the team find that we don’t need the beast that much as long as we can keep Arteta fit. I know this seems to be a bit of a problem this season. Arteta isn’t the beast DM. No he is the intelligent DM. Making small fouls when needed. Running where he should run. Using his head. Linking up play between the defenders and the attacking part of the team. Keeping the ball moving so that the opposition cannot get it.
What good is it to win the ball with a tough tackle (that usually gets punished if it is done by an Arsenal player so you give the ball away) and if it isn’t called back by the ref than the beast kicks it out of play or loses it again as he is not that gifted in playing a good pass out of defense like Arteta can.
I know there is a big split in opinion on this between Gooners and as I have said it before if we can find a +6ft DM with the tactical know how and technical ability that Arteta has we should buy him now. But apart from maybe Pogba I don’t see anyone who will fit that bill.
What kind of DM would Jack be? I think he will be more one like Arteta. Because first of all he isn’t +6ft so he will have to use his head and legs more than his frame to play it. We all know that Jack can keep the ball moving and play a good pass. But for the moment he still has a thing that needs to be worked on before he can play that role well enough as required. He still runs too much with the ball at times. If you do that just outside the opposite penalty area and lose the ball you might not get punished. Do that in front of your own penalty area and you will get punished a few times.
Another question we should ask is if Jack has the discipline to play that role. Jack has always been an attacking minded player. Always going forward, trying to go to the other goal. But as a defensive midfielder you have to keep yourself in check. Of course you can join in an attack when you can. But that is the whole point: knowing when you can and when you certainly shouldn’t go forward and join the attack.
So if Jack would play as a DM he would have to make a complete switch in his head. No more looking at where is the gap where I can attack. But looking at: where is the possible gap if we lose the ball now and can I cover that? Can this be done just like that?
Maybe the answer is hidden in the article itself. And in the words of Jack himself (if we accept that it is a real transcription of what he actually said) written down in the article. I quote: “Asked whether he feels he should be playing his England role for his club, Wilshere replied: “Yes, but the formation we play at Arsenal is a bit different. I wouldn’t mind playing it at Arsenal and I’ve already spoken to the manager about it, and he doesn’t see me playing that role just yet.”
So that is the answer to it I think. It probably has crossed Jack and Wenger their minds and we can guess they have talked about it. But given some of the things I mentioned in this article Jack is not really ready to take that role in every game. Maybe learning the job from Arteta for the next seasons could be the best thing to do for all involved.
It might be worth having a shot at it in the future and in a way Arteta did the same when he came to Arsenal and started playing deeper. But at that moment Arteta was already a bit older and wiser.
I’m not saying a definite no to Jack playing as a DM for Arsenal but I don’t see it being done right now. But never say never about the future.
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