14 September 2014

A litany of reasons why Jack Wilshere is still overrated

Those who see the world through rose-colored glasses will have watched Arsenal's draw with Manchester City and point to it as proof that Jack Wilshere has once and for all silenced his critics. After all, they'll say, he scored one goal and assisted the other while leading Arsenal to a well-fought 2-2 draw with the defending champions. Hogwash, I say. Folderol. If he did so well on this day, why didn't he go for a brace or, better yet, a hat-trick? Just one assist? These are not the numbers of a talisman or a man on whom club or country can pin its hopes. Continue reading to learn more of why Wilshere's critics are right to have built him up beyond a point that any player can reach and then slated him for failing to reach that point.

His minions will point to statistics to prove that he dominated the match, and, yes, if "numbers" prove anything, well, we'd use them to figure out who outscored whom. On that account, Wilshere's goal and assist presumably prove something in a match in which his team scored two goals. However, wouldn't we have the right to expect him to do more than that? If numbers really meant something, wouldn't a player of Wilshere's apparent calibre manage to outscore his opponent, if not his own team? A goal and an assist in this situation clearly amount to style over substance.

Speaking of style, how can any player be considered world-class if he (okay, fine, or "she") is as one-footed as this Wilshere? Would it kill him to use his right foot for something other than running and scoring? I almost hate to bring up old superstitions, but we all know that left derives from Old English's lyft, with an original meaning of  "weak or foolish." Wilshere is the only player anywhere who uses his left foot, so the ineluctable conclusion is that he is weak and foolish. Watching film of the man, one almost wonders if he believes that it's a violation to pass or dribble with his right. No one in the history of anything has ever relied on just one limb to get things done. Listen, Jack. Just because we call it football shouldn't prevent you from using both feet. I presume you use a toothbrush to brush just one tooth, or are you so special as to own a magical teethbrush? I rest my case.

Having rested my case, I'll now continue. Yes, I'll admit, by certain standards, Mr. Wilshere did well. He ran about, he knocked other players down, he passed to teammates who almost scored, but he did all of this without facing Yaya "the standard against which all defensive midfielder-ish players shall be judged" Touré. Without Touré in there, Wilshere comes off as a flat-track bully, bossing lesser players about willy-nilly. At one point, I do believe the ruffian rudely shouldered Nasri to the ground for no other reason than Nasri's unbearable personality or, perhaps, to win the ball. Would Wilshere have tried such shenanigans against Touré? I think not. In fact, this domineering performance in midfield, during which he won challenges, intercepted passes, and decided who else on his team would get the ball, comes across as a bit lacking in tact or good upbringing. Would you believe that, at one point, he was so crass as to "nutmeg" an opposing player? A gentleman knows that the better part of valour is discretion, and Wilshere, should he aspire to being known as a 'class' player, would do well to curtail his peregrinations in order to let others have a chance to get a touch on the ball from time to time rather than taking it from them or refusing to let them have it until he got bored.

When he did deign to share the ball with a teammate, the result was all too predictable. He chipped in for Alexis, but Hart got to it first. He threaded another pass to Alexis, but Alexis had to attempt a pass to Welbeck that Zabaleta blocked. His header into to Alexis was little more than luck, the exception that proves the rule. He chipped in for Ramsey, but the pass was piss-poor and Ramsey couldn't finish. Each of these failures falls at the feet—er, excuse me—foot of Wilshere. Now, it may be to much to ask that every pass become an assist, but, surely, every pass into the box must, at a minimum, lead to a goal, or the passer is rubbish. Given that only one of Wilshere's 65 passes led to goal (a rate of return of only 1.5%, for you statisticians) can we seriously take ourselves seriously if we continue to give a free pass to this Wilshere?

He's been in playing in the Prem for six years now. Six. Math has never been my strong-suit, but I reckon that he must be 'round about 28, maybe 29 years old by now.  It's high-time he start proving the nay-sayers wrong. Most players hit their stride and realize their potential somewhere in their mid-20's, with a wheelhouse of 23 to 26 years of age. I can't be bothered to look up how old Wilshere is or when he as born, but I daresay that the window must surely be closing if it hasn't already. No player in history has failed to impress to this point in his career only to blossom shortly thereafter.

Long story short, Mr. Wilshere, your best wasn't good enough, nor will it ever be.