Many folks seem to be surprised by Jack Wilshere’s loan to Bournemouth. I wasn’t too surprised by it, to be honest. Let’s face it: Arsenal have, on paper, a stronger and more competitive midfield in place for this season, with Granit Xhaka signing on this summer and Mohamed Elneny in the winter window to replace the now-retired Mikel Arteta and the departed Tomas Rosicky and Mathieu Flamini.
Arsenal’s challenge last season suffered a major setback when the starting midfield pair of Santi Cazorla and Francis Coquelin both got injured in the same month, while Arteta was also out at that stage due to a persistent and recurring calf problem, which I think hastened his retirement. That meant that Aaron Ramsey and Mathieu Flamini, or even Chambers were starting games in midfield. Both of these players, sadly, lacked positional discipline and often wandered out of position at crucial moments, which resulted in a number of goals being conceded that may not have been if Cazorla and Coquelin had been fit (specifically the 4-0 defeat at. Southampton and blowing the lead against Liverpool).
My feeling (and probably also that of Wenger) is that it isn’t really Ramsey’s game to play in the holding or defensive midfield area of the pitch, as this restricts his ability to attack opponents. Also, the persistent hamstring injuries, which are possibly a result of or linked to the disgusting tackle from Shawcross that broke Ramsey’s leg a few years back in the Orc Encampment (the then Britannia Stadium in Stoke), means that Arsenal and Wenger cannot rely on Ramsey to be fit for an entire season. So, Wenger had no choice but to go shopping for midfielders. The persistent injury to Arteta, the string of injuries to Rosicky over several seasons and the already mentioned injuries to Coquelin and Cazorla meant that Elneny was purchased in January.
Now, you’re all asking what this has to do with Jack Wilshere? Well, all of the players mentioned are in competition with Jack for a place in the squad and Jack has struggled to get fit after a pre-season injury from last season suffered in a clash with Gabriel in training left him out for most of last season.
I suspect that Jack’s loaning out is for 2 key reasons. The first reason being that Wenger wants to see if Jack can maintain fitness for a season whilst at Bournemouth and gain a sufficient amount of game time – to be fair, almost all of Jack’s injuries have been due to ill-timed challenges from other players that may be exacerbated by his style of keeping the ball very close to his feet. That being said, he is, for me, a more potent threat from midfield than anyone else that Bournemouth currently have. The second reason, and I suspect the more telling one, is because Wenger and Gazidis want Jack’s assessment of Eddie Howe as an individual and his coaching methods and how he interacts with his players as a possible long-term replacement for Wenger when he chooses to step down. There’s no better way to get information on a potential new manager than from a player who is in a position to get it first-hand, right? Jack loves Arsenal and it’s my opinion that he is in a strong position to stay at the Club even after being loaned out, as he is a fan favourite and has grown up with the Club. Because of this, he is unlikely to press for a permanent move away if one should arise.
So, good luck with your loan to Bournemouth, Jack. We’re all rooting for you.
The first time I saw Dennis Bergkamp play was in 1996 – I started following Arsenal properly in 1998 after the World Cup. When Arsenal then signed Thierry Henry – a player I had seen in that World Cup win by France – as well as already having Vieira and Petit there, plus several English stars like Tony Adams, Martin Keown and David Seaman just cemented Arsenal as the club for me. There was very little football coverage in South Africa during the 1990s as rugby was (and still is) the dominant sport here.
I was not really ushered in any specific direction in terms of which club to support – I chose Arsenal myself. It’s only over the last 3 years that I have been able to watch matches regularly – we get excellent TV coverage of European football now and I try to watch all Arsenal matches live.