Jack Wilshere feels he is more relaxed in front of goal this season, something we’ve all seen from fellow midfielder Aaron Ramsey, and has set himself a target of scoring 10 goals this season.
The England international sunk Marseille on Tuesday night at Emirates with a well taken brace, the first of which was an absolute peach, and he has seemingly used playing as an inverted winger to his advantage.
He is afforded more space out wide but still cuts inside often when possible, and Wilshere has been thriving in his new position this season.
It won’t be a permanent move out wide, but with many of Arsenal’s regular wingers out injured, Wilshere has done a superb job for the team.
Prior to the start of the season the 21-year-old had only six goals to his name, but now he’s already notched four and is eager to break into double figures with his new found composure in front of goal.
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Wilshere told Arsenal Player:
As you’ve seen with Aaron [Ramsey] this year, you grow up a little bit and you relax in front of goal. There’s something that clicks when you grow and learn.
When you’re 19 and you’re just getting into the team you want to do well and you’re too busy trying to impress, to keep the ball, [to make sure you] don’t lose the ball and trying to fit in the team.
Once you get older and [more] comfortable, players around you trust you. You get a little bit fitter as well, you can get forward a bit more and when you’re in front of goal you’ve watched players in the past and you’ve learnt from your past mistakes. You relax and that’s the only way you’re going to do well.
It’s hard to put your finger on it but I’ve set myself a target of 10 goals this season and I’m only at four so hopefully I can keep going.
Wilshere also paid tribute to his two assistants from Tuesday night Bacary Sagna and Mesut Ozil, both played in tidy balls for the Englishman to finish. He added:
Bac’s been doing it all season. He had another one with Theo at the end when he put him in as well. We could have scored a few goals from his crosses in Manchester, so hopefully he can keep that going for the rest of the season.
[For the second goal] it was really unselfish from Mesut. Sometimes after a [missed] penalty you feel like you have to score. But the player he is, he’s been in that situation before and he’s unselfishly passed it across the goal and it was an easy tap-in for me.
It certainly feels as if the bar has been raised an awful lot in the Gunners midfield and Wilshere has had to respond by upping all aspects of his game. He has struggled throughout patches of the season, mainly because of niggling injuries, but his composure and maturity on the pitch has improved.
Many will remember fondly the goal he scored with Olivier Giroud against Norwich – a stark reminder of his quality on and off the ball.
Playing a wide role has helped develop his game and given him minutes which is the most important part for this stage of his career. On the flank he generally receives more time on the ball than when playing centrally, which has helped to build his confidence.
His movement has been intelligent, maurading inside when possible, switching with Ozil, and he’s got his burst back that is a feature of his playing style. He is enjoying taking on players and that is something we need more of, especially when teams ‘park the bus’ so to speak, he entices defenders in and using his agility and silky skills to beat opponents and often draw fouls.
Wenger certainly has a dilemma on his hands as he has so many quality options in central midfield now. But Wilshere’s time will come to play in his preferred central midfield role, especially if he keeps scoring and wreaking havoc. There is much more to come from the Englishman.