I know that not every fan of Arsenal Football Club is also a fan of the England national team. With club football these days being more of a global concern than ever, it is actually more likely that English fans like me are in the minority, so a lot of Gooners may have missed the performance of the Arsenal players in the England v San Marino international game the other day.
If you did miss it, it is worth trying to have a look if you can find the game or some highlights on the internet because there were five Arsenal players involved, with Danny Welbeck scoring a goal and the Ox getting two assists. But the most impressive Gunner by far was Jack Wilshere, who now looks to have put the years of injury problems and the recent media criticism behind him for club and country.
Jack was deservedly named the Man of the Match against San Marino, with some sublime passing capping off his all round game and it was his amazingly accurate long range passing and vision that really caught the eye, because it is not an area of the game he has been known for. And if you were wondering where this new facet of the 22-year old’s game has come from, look no further, because a Daily Mail report reveals that the midfielder has been studying the game of two of the best exponents of the art in recent years, Xabi Alonso and Andrea Pirlo, in a concerted attempt to add that string to his bow.
Wilshere said, “I have been watching Xabi Alonso on video in the past couple of weeks. He had a record number of passes in one game, nearly 200 in one match, which is ridiculous. Watching players like him and Andrea Pirlo, you learn how clever they are how intelligent they are on the ball.
“In that role it’s important you have to understand that if you lose the ball, the opposition are in a dangerous position to counter-attack. Whereas if I was playing a little bit higher, on the edge of the box, you can lose it and you have players around who can get the ball back. You learn how they use the ball and you learn when it’s a good time to dribble or sometimes pass. I enjoy playing that role. I enjoy getting on the ball and starting attacks.
“I get the clips through on my iPad. The analyst guys here send them to me and they highlight some of his key points, his key strengths. It’s only 20-25 minutes. That’s part and parcel of learning. Even when I watch my games back, I think: “What am I doing now? I should have done that!” It was my second game in that position against San Marino and I thought: “I’ve already improved.” So there’s a lot more to come from me in that position, but the more I watch players like that, the quicker I’ll learn.”
Wilshere’s game has previously been more about his skill with the ball at his feet, going past players and combining in tight spaces with short passing, but if he can add the sort of long range skill that we used to see from a certain Spaniard now playing for Chelsea, Wilshere could soon make Arsenal fans forget the name of Cesc Fabregas.