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Wenger’s Wilshere will have to adapt game for Arsenal and England

| 24.07.2014

It is about time that Jack Wilshere really started to live up to his potential. The fact that Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is reportedly going to abandon his pursuit of a defensive, deep-lying midfielder and mould the 22-year-old into one instead should be a wake-up call for the England international.

Having already signed Chile star Alexis Sanchez for £32m this summer, as well as right back Mathieu Debuchy for £10m from Newcastle United, it was believed Wenger was hoping to add a midfielder. Germany duo Sami Khedira and Lars Bender had both been earmarked as potential candidates, as had Southampton’s Morgan Schneiderlin.

However, in a show of faith towards Wilshere, Wenger hopes to convert him into a ball-playing, deep-lying defensive midfielder; as he did successfully with Mikel Arteta after signing the Spaniard from Everton. The Gunners boss has made a name for himself teaching players new positions. As well as Arteta, he most famously turned Thierry Henry from a winger into one of the Premier League’s most prolific ever strikers. The Frenchman has also previously stated that he believes Mesut Ozil can be the team’s ‘new Dennis Bergkamp’.

With Aaron Ramsey alongside him, and offering a more box-to-box goalscoring presence, as the Welshman did emphatically last term, before sustaining an injury, Wilshere will have plenty of support. It is not yet understood what Wenger’s intentions are for next campaign when it comes to team selection. Olivier Giroud led the line on his own last term, though now has Sanchez to take the heat off.

Of course, the Chilean can play in a wide berth, behind, or even alongside another striker, and then there is the small matter of accommodating Ozil, Santi Cazorla, Theo Walcott, Lukas Podolski and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Wilshere certainly possesses intelligence to adapt, though the question will be whether he has the discipline. Most notably, Bastian Schweinsteiger became arguably one of the world’s best players in his position, switching from a right winger into a midfield pivot. The upshot of it, he has gone on to win Bundesliga titles and the Champions League with club Bayern Munich, and recently the World Cup with Germany.

Brendan Rodgers has been responsible for Steven Gerrard’s effortless transition into a defensive midfielder, however, unlike Wilshere he has a range of passing in his armoury. The Gunners, though, don’t tend to play long balls. Depending on the style of football that Wenger has in mind for Arsenal next season, he may have taken a long hard look at different teams while in Brazil and analysed the way they play.

Renowned as a student of the game, and with this in mind, it could determine the type of player that he moulds Wilshere into. Does he see him as a Xavi Hernandez, who really reached his peak for Barcelona at around 26 and went on to boss the midfield? Or, is it his wish to move away from the ‘tiki taka’ strategy and implement a more slick, direct approach, as his signing of Sanchez may suggest?

A big fan of German football, the Arsenal boss could look to emulate the way Die Mannschaft played in Brazil, and he certainly has the personnel in his ranks to do so. The aforementioned Ozil and Podolski, as well as defender Per Mertesacker were part of Joachim Low’s World Cup winning squad.

It is all very well saying Wilshere can evolve into a defensive midfielder. The question is, will Arsenal adapt their style to accommodate the player in that role? Moreover, do they need to?



Matt Haynes

A long-suffering Leeds fan, Matt studied Sports Journalism at university, and has a plethora of multi-industry experience. Having worked on behalf of multiple hedge funds and top-tier investment banks in executive search, he has also had a stint with the BBC and the Press Association. Outside of work, he pursues entrepreneurial activities and likes to keep fit.
Although he has interviewed current England manager Roy Hodgson as well as Rafa Benitez and a number of other names, he is honoured to have spent time in the company of Gordon Banks. Matt enjoys cultivating long-lasting professional and personal relationships, is solution orientated, and supports Coral’s sports content provision.