If you’re a long-time follower of me on social media, you’ll probably know that I react to departures at Arsenal with some sort of terrible ‘thank you’ hashtag followed by a few words. However, following the confirmation that Jack Wilshere will leave the club following the expiration of his contract, I just knew that this article had to be written instead. For someone so loyal and dedicated to Arsenal Football Club, it’s devastating to see the Englishman leave, especially when other long-serving favourites like Arsene Wenger and Theo Walcott have also departed recently.
Jack Wilshere is, and was, the embodiment of the Arsenal that I fell in love with back in the day. A fantastic midfielder technically, one of the only true leaders at the club in the last decade and also one of the most consistent performers of Wenger’s “Wengerball” philosophy. When playing at the top of his game, Wilshere was phenomenal.
Looking back at the 26-year-old’s seventeen-year tenure at the North London club, I just can’t help but think about what could have been. Similarly to Abou Diaby and Tomas Rosicky, a significant amount of Wilshere’s career has been damaged as a result of injuries, affecting both his ability and development in the process. Had the midfielder not been forced to endure so many problems in the past, I have no doubt in my mind that he would be considered as one of the best midfielders in the world today.
THAT performance against Barcelona in 2011 was the clearest indication that Wilshere was a special player. I know a lot of rival fans get fed up about the consistent references to that match, but at just 19-years-old, Wilshere was having the game of his life against the Barcelona side that many say were the greatest team of all time.
Coming up against some of the best players in the world, the young midfielder carried himself with great composure throughout the game while contributing heavily both defensively and offensively. Despite the game featuring legendary players like Lionel Messi, David Villa, and Andres Iniesta, all eyes were on Arsenal’s 19-year-old midfielder from Stevenage.
Despite all of the injury problems he has endured, the Stevenage-born midfielder still enjoyed a successful career with the Gunners. His fantastic performances across the 2010-11 Premier League season deservedly earned him the PFA Young Player of the Year award as well as a spot in the PFA Team of the Year. In addition, Wilshere played a part in ending the trophy drought in 2014 as well as helping Arsenal win a then-record winning 12th FA Cup.
Regardless of what anyone says, Wilshere quite easily is not an overrated midfielder like some make him out to be. If anything, he is quite the contrary. People will always go on about the fact that the aforementioned Barcelona performance was his only great game, but that simply is not true. Throughout the 2010-11, 2013-14, and 2016-17 Premier League seasons, to name a few, the midfielder consistently played well for both Arsenal and Bournemouth (during a loan spell).
While his performances towards the end of this season were poor, I personally thought his final year at the club was very good. Wilshere was one of our best performers in the Europa League and even did well in the Premier League after he earned his place back with the first-team.
For someone so loved and adored by everyone who follows Arsenal, it’s difficult to see someone like Jack Wilshere leave the club after so many years. Personally, I’m sort of glad it ended this way. While I obviously would have preferred to see him remain at the club under a similar role he had last season, allowing him to leave on his own terms while maintaining a strong relationship with both the club and the fans is perfect.
Thank you, Jack Wilshere, for everything. For your loyalty and commitment to the club, the fantastic goals, the cherished moments, and the FA Cups.