Wilshere; Forever In Ramsey's Shadow?
We are all familiar with the meteoric rise to World-Class status that has seen Aaron Ramsey not only steal the headlines, but steal our hearts.
The Welsh Warrior and his phoenix-like ascent from the dusty halls of the footballing forgotten reads like a Hollywood script - Talented schoolkid breaks club record for youngest debut appearance, impresses all and sundry with his vast range of skills before being horrifyingly halted in his progress towards the glittering lights of acclaim when Shawcross and his clumsy six-toed foot proceeded to break his tibia and fibula before struggling back from his Titanic injury only to be met with derision and impatient by the very people who so welcomed his early progress. When all seemed lost, time run out and he would surely be bombed out by his club and consigned to the nether regions of the Football League, forever chasing the ghost of his potential, he rose like a phoenix from the claim to become the standout midfield performer in all of Europe.
What impresses me most about Ramsey, is the fact that it is mainly his dedication and work-rate that has seen him finally display why Arsene had such blinding faith in him, despite doubts from the fans, the perma-biased media and the geniuses that call themselves pundits. This would be the other reason why Ramsey now stands head and shoulders above 95% of his competitors. His desire on the training ground though, in the gym building up his shattered leg, when listening to the sage advice of his mentors, is at the fulcrum of why Ramsey's light now means that his opponents now need to wear shades when directly looking at him.
It could conceivably be a carbon copy of many sporting films. The funny thing is though, that this potential blockbuster could also have been written about Jack Wilshere, though with the furore over Ramsey, you would never think it.
Now before you all start fizzing and frothing, I realise that the gap currently between the two midfielders is currently bigger than Jose Mourinho's self-importance. Ramsey has catapulted himself into everyone ’s Fantasy Football reckonings, whilst the only thing Jack is being considered for currently is to be the new sponsor for the latest brand of E-Cigarettes. Aaron has hewn a swiss-army knife of attacking weapons. He has shown vision, drive, shooting ability and a touch that wouldn't look out of place from the 'Next-Next-Next-Messi'. That deft, pre-thought, 'blink and you'll miss it' little chip that took the ball over the floundering City defender was all the Exhibits you need to display why Ramsey is not behind on his progress chart. If he keeps this up, by the time he hits his peak at 28-29, the unreachable peaks scaled by Iniesta could possibly be matched or even bettered.
Jack though? In the many conversations I've had with fellow Gooners, in the many blogs and articles I've read, amongst the glut of podcasts I've listened to, including the peerless @GoonerspherePod, the main stance taken when discussing our chuffing No.10 is that this season is make or break, that this term could be sink or swim in regards to Jack's Arsenal career.
Where did it go wrong? Why was Jack and his Gunners future considered to be in a negative spiral? I think it may be because the shadow formed by Ramsey's blinding luminescence is dwarfing what seems to be Jacks welcome return to prominence.
Only two full seasons have passed since the 2011-12 season where Jack was injured in pre-season Vs the NYRB and then didn't make a single appearance. Only last season he missed from March until late May due to a foot injury.
Perhaps the most telling factoid regarding the fitness of Wilshere should come from the mouth of the man who has just as much faith and trust in him as he does his current talisman. Arsene Wenger stated during pre-season that, finally, he no longer is plagued with foot and ankle injuries. He at last has a clean slate in regards to his troublesome trotters. Mayhap even more tellingly is a five-word sentence that Wenger finished his Jack description with.
"It could be his season".
Think of the array of skills at Aaron's disposal. Now ask yourself if Jack can do the same. We’ve all seen Jack doing what Aaron does, albeit more sporadically, but we've all witnessed him showing that whatever Aaron can do, he is more than capable of doing too. Vision? Jack has been slotted into the No.10 position when suffering low form and confidence by his manager, so undoubtedly has this covered. Driving runs from deep? Think of how many times Jack is fouled when starting surging runs. It's due to his low centre of gravity that players need to stick a leg across our wee Jack that then prompts him to go down. When in motion, he is ridiculously difficult to get off the ball by non-nefarious means. He draws set-pieces – opportunities - from rivals. He can tackle, maybe not as effectively as Aaron - but he can more than hold his own. Add to this his terrier-like instinct, and impressive cardio levels and his prospects are akin to our leek-munching powerhouse.
So what sets them apart so contrastingly? At the moment, primarily confidence. Fitness levels last season saw Ramsey have a solid foundation from which to launch his form rocket. Wilshere, as attested to by Wenger, was still hampered by the remnants of previous injuries and fresh ones that held him back. Another huge wall that divides the two players is the work that is put in at the training ground. Ramsey was always an eager listener and ran himself into the ground in a case of effort over application before finally realising that it was only him that was stopping him becoming a club great.
Tags: Jack Wilshere