Jack Wilshere endured a frustrating time at Old Trafford as he could do little to stop Arsenal from losing to Robin van Persie and Manchester United.
The result leaves Arsenal languishing in 6th place with just 2 wins from their last 6 games. Making matters worse, with just 15 points from 10 games, this is the worst start by Arsenal to a season under Arsene Wenger. It’s amazing how things have turned sour after a promising start to the season.
As for Manchester United, they go top of the league on 24 points, albeit just for a while given Chelsea are still to play. They’ve now won 4 games on the trot and have won an impressive 8 out of the 10 league games played — all this and United are yet to hit top gear. Sir Alex Ferguson has reason to be pleased, but he has to find a way to get his team firing on all cylinders and on a regular basis.
Particular attention was paid to Jack Wilshere during this fixture. He is still working his way back from a lengthy spell on the sidelines and Flix & Trix was keen to see how he’d do in this big game. Here’s the report…
Jack Wilshere started in a very familiar role in central midfield just behind attacking midfielder Santi Cazorla. It may have been a familiar role, but his team-mates are anything but familiar.
He had not played with the vast majority of these players given he has been out for around 16 months. These are still early days and he will surely need time to fit himself in.
He was clear about his role, however. He pushed ahead of Mikel Arteta, who sat deep, and tried to link up with the likes of Lukas Podolski, Cazorla, and Ramsey.
But Jack Wilshere had a problem. Despite Arsenal dominating possession (52%), he saw little of the ball, enjoying just 51 touches. He was virtually a passenger until the 11th minute. Before then, his involvement consisted of pressing United’s players and watching the ball go past him and to the boots of his team-mates. Even when he had the ball, he didn’t do anything meaningful with it, opting to keep his passes short and simple when Arsenal needed real invention, particularly as Cazorla was having a hard time.
Also contributing to Wilshere’s lack of time on the ball was the fact that Wayne Rooney did a very good job keeping Mikel Arteta quiet. The Spaniard also didn’t see as much of the ball as he is accustomed to seeing, enjoying just 73 touches. With Arteta, Wilshere’s defensive midfield partner, hardly on the ball himself, Wilshere’s supply suffered in turn.
There was one bright moment, though. He took a good set-piece in the 65th minute after Cazorla was fouled, but that delivery went untouched and out for a goal-kick.
With things not going as he would have liked, his frustration became more and more obvious. A rash tackle from behind on Tom Cleverley after he was dispossessed in the 15th minute earned him a deserved yellow card. Then, making things worse for himself and Arsenal, he made a poor challenge on Patrice Evra and was subsequently dismissed by virtue of a second yellow card in the 69th minute. These were 2 of 3 fouls he committed on this day. The other was a late standing challenge on former team-mate Robin van Persie in the 55th minute.
His efforts to help out defensively are commendable. Indeed, he pressed United’s players when he wasn’t in possession. However, he lacked composure. One can understand his frustration after having been out for so long and then not having things his way during such a big game, but he needs to work on keeping a level head, especially in trying times like today. His timing in the tackle also needs addressing.
Overall, it was a performance to forget for Jack Wilshere. However, he is still young (20 years old) and is still working his way back from a lengthy injury lay-off. That said, it’s fair to say that he has plenty of time to get his career back on track.
Once he regains full match fitness, gels properly with his new team-mates, and works on the areas highlighted, he will start regaining form and influence to re-invigorate an Arsenal midfield that is crucially lacking both attributes at the moment.
**Stats courtesy of Whoscored
**Heat map courtesy of ESPN FC