Wilshere is back with a bang

Arsenal's Jack Wilshere (left) in the thick of action against Aston Villa's Nathan Baker during their English Premier League match at the Emirates Stadium, in London.-Arsenal's Jack Wilshere (left) in the thick of action against Aston Villa's Nathan Baker during their English Premier League match at the Emirates Stadium, in London.

Jack Wilshere’s vital contributions in English Premier League games — including his winning goal in January’s encounter with Swansea and providing the assist for Santi Cazorla to secure a 2-1 victory against Aston Villa recently — changed the course of the games. By Phil Jeffery.

In a season which has seen Arsenal struggle once again with what is becoming a distinctly below-par team, one man continues to garner the highest praise amidst the background of frustration.

After an injury-blighted 17 months, Jack Wilshere has come roaring back on to the scene. Since the midfielder’s return earlier this season, his virtuoso performances have reflected a man now making up for lost time — despite only turning 21 last month — and Arsenal fans will surely be rejoicing at his return.

His vital contributions in English Premier League games — including his winning goal in January’s encounter with Swansea and providing the assist for Santi Cazorla to secure a 2-1 victory against Aston Villa recently — changed the course of the games.

It has become evident that Wilshere is capable of making his presence felt on the pitch, taking a stranglehold of matches in a way that fellow midfielders such as Aaron Ramsey and Mikel Arteta arguably fail to do.

Fortunately for England, it seems that Wilshere’s form has continued on the international stage. February’s 2-1 win against Brazil in a friendly at Wembley Stadium saw Wilshere excel in his midfield role, despite his unfamiliar surroundings given that it was only his seventh appearance for England.

Unsurprisingly, England’s veterans were quickly exhausting all superlatives after the game. Steven Gerrard, playing alongside Wilshere for the first time, said he had the “potential to become one of the best in the world.”

“Jack has got a bit of everything,” said the Liverpool midfielder. “He can tackle, get up and down the pitch, create a goal, score a goal, he can pass.

“But playing against him recently and in training, he’s a one-off. He’s a lot better than your normal Premier League midfielder. I have a lot of confidence in him.”

Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard heaped a similar amount of praise on Wilshere, saying: “His quality on the ball, his technical ability, his speed at getting away from people — I think he’s going to be a massive player for England and in the world.”

Wilshere’s potential was clear from an early age. Born in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, he spent a short time in the youth ranks of Luton Town before moving to Arsenal’s programme in 2001. After impressing in numerous age groups, during which time he captained Arsenal’s under-16s, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger promoted Wilshere to the first-team squad in 2008, becoming Arsenal’s youngest-ever league debutant aged 16 years and 329 days.

However, it was the 2010/11 season which saw Wilshere establish himself as a first-team regular. Outstanding performances in Arsenal’s league and UEFA Champions League campaigns drew praise from football experts, players and managers all around the world.

His displays against Barcelona, in particular, caught the eye of football’s elite and he was voted Arsenal’s Player of the Season.

A stress fracture of the ankle meant Wilshere did not participate in the whole of the following season, and his return last October sent a renewed sense of hope around the Emirates Stadium.

Wilshere is looking stronger and more intelligent with every game; seemingly not content with being rested ahead of big games, he has apparently called on Wenger to echo Tito Vilanova’s use of Lionel Messi at Barcelona and play him every week, a move that shows Wilshere’s admirable determination and self-belief.

This determination for success is exactly what Arsenal need right now; it is no secret they have lacked a true leader since the days of Tony Adams and Patrick Viera, and Wilshere’s personality and tough style of play seem to make for a perfect fit.

The new contract he signed in December suggests he is a man committed to the cause, a man Wenger sees as the focal point he can shape a team around.

Despite stating his wish to become an Arsenal legend, the lure of trophies and European success rather than Europa League football could prove too much for a player so capable of playing for any team in the world.

Nevertheless, Wilshere’s foreseeable future belongs to Arsenal and England fans must be salivating at the thought of Wilshere in the Three Lions’ midfield in the World Cup in Brazil next year.

If his form continues, England have a world-beater on their hands.

FACTFILE Name: Jack Wilshere Position: Midfielder Club: Arsenal DOB: 01/01/1992 International appearances: 7

International debut: v Hungary, August 11, 2010

Moment to remember: Was named PFA Young Player of the Year after making 49 appearances in his debut season for Arsenal.

Moment to forget: Defeat in the League Cup final against then Premier League strugglers Birmingham City in 2011.

Footballer’s wife: Wilshere has a son, Archie, with girlfriend Lauren Neal.

Footballer’s drive: It is believed Jack recently purchased the Autobiography edition of the Range Rover Sport.

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