Jack Wilshere

Wednesday’s big game between Arsenal and Barcelona ended 2-1 to the home side, but an impressive display from a certain player is sure to make him world known.

Barcelona travelled to the emirates stadium to take on Arsenal in a game that always makes you think of possession football, and with Barcelona having 2 of the best midfielders in the world in Andres Iniesta and Xavi, you’d think they were the players grabbing football fans attention.

Yes, the Barcelona midfield were able to keep possession of the ball and frustrate Arsenal fans for periods of the game but the player that took their chance in the spot light was the young Jack Wilshere who seems to be a permanent fixture in the Arsenal starting line-up.

The 19 year old England international must have approached the game like all midfielders do when coming up against Barcelona, you’re unlikely to get the majority of the possession so when you do have to ball look after it and that’s exactly what he did.

His performance was top class which was awarded with an Arsenal win, but his awareness throughout the game is what contributed to his great game. On a couple of occasion when Barcelona pushed up and pressured deep Arsenal midfielders Wilshere received the ball on the centre line, had the awareness to look around and let the ball run across his body as he turned and started Arsenal attacks. He did that twice to Xavi giving him a taste of his medicine.

His awareness let him know when he did or didn’t have time on the ball and he was able to get involved in most of the Gunner’s play.

Another thing about his game that showed yesterday is his confidence on the ball. As a midfielder he’s not afraid to push forward with the ball at his feet and, when he feels it’s necessary, to get into the box and create an option for his team. Some young players may shy away from a big challenge and not be positive in their play but Wilshere was far from that on Wednesday. He kept himself calm when on the ball as well making it look easy when Barcelona players surrounded him and he got out of the situation with the ball at his feet and the Barca players behind him.

The last thing that he was able to produce against arguably the best team in the world was top class passing. His link play with Samir Nasri, Alex Song and Cesc Fabregas was something that Barcelona couldn’t stop as a team and most other Premier League sides this season. His short passing was so successful that he played the full 90 minutes, completed 46 passes and his passing accuracy as a percentage ended up as 94%.

Those types of figures allow you to understand why he was in the starting line-up for England against Denmark at the age of only 19. English fans have known Jack Wilshere to be a young prospect for a year or two now but if he puts in another performance like his last, he will be known all around the world as a talented player that teams should fear when on the ball.

The away leg at the Nou Camp for Arsenal will take place on the 8th of March, in 22 days. With a new understanding about how Jack Wilshere plays in the middle of the park, will Pep Guardiola get Barcelona playing tighter to him and Cesc Fabregas or will they continue to play the way they usually do? All I do know is that the next leg will be a fascinating one.

By Jordan Brown 

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