Arsene Wenger believes Jack Wilshere is close to returning to his best, something the Frenchman did not expect to happen until February next year.
Wilshere spent the entire 2011/12 season on the sidelines, predominantly from an ankle stress fracture, and since his return the 20-year-old’s performances have been steadily improving.
Wenger believes his prodigy’s ability to pick passes to create openings and dangerous bursts with the ball is returning faster than predicted which is down to the Englishman’s enthusiasm for football and his tenacious, hardworking attitude towards training.
Despite his rapid improvement, the Frenchman remains cautious over the amount of minutes the midfielder can play after such a long spell on the sidelines.
The Arsenal manager told the clubs official website:
I have still to be cautious, but Saturday was the first time I have seen him very, very close to the player he is. Yes [we’ve got] our young old Jack back.
We have to see if he has no reaction but it was good to leave at home in midweek [for the Olympiakos game]. To give him a breather from time to time, maybe two, three games and then one breather maybe.
But when he plays at that level, and you are under the pressure we are under to win the games, it is difficult to leave him out.
He won balls when he closes down and he made a difference running with the ball. It is important in the middle of the park to be capable of passing people to create openings. He can do that.
No [he is not at his maximum yet] but he is not far away on what he has done on Saturday.
He analyses well his game and is very demanding with himself. He works hard in training, he is a worker.
He’s an enthusiastic player – he goes for the challenges the day before a game. I don’t hold him back because I think it is good to have that attitude. When the best players have that attitude, you have always a chance.
I believe the surprising thing for me is that he is in advance [of his scheduled recovery]. I expected him to be back next year in February, at his best. He looks to be there much earlier than I expected him to be.
Wilshere’s return and rapid improvement will be instrumental for determining the fate of the Arsenal side this season, as the tricky midfielder adds further flair and finesse to the heart of Wenger’s side while also contributing defensively too.
The trio of Cazorla, Arteta and Wilshere can potentially be the most lethal in the league if they can keep clicking and maintain a fluent understanding of each others positioning.
But like Wenger said he must remain cautious over Wilshere and protect him from being overplayed. The last thing Wenger will want is for the midfielder to sustain a reoccurrence of his various injuries, and with the return of Rosicky the options are plentiful, however Abou Diaby is exactly what Arsenal need.
Once Wilshere returns to his maximum potential he will be a lethal asset and hopefully they shall never suffer the horrible dip in attacking form again this season.. that is with the addition of another striker of course.