Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Something about Jack Wilshere

"He is strong one against one, he has good commitment and it is important in the development of a player for him to start there. After, you can always push a player higher up but let's start with the difficult work. Once you do that, you can always take the easier job. And I always have many offensive players."

- Arsene Wenger, on starting Jack Wilshere in a holding midfield position

It's an interesting idea to play Jack Wilshere in front of the defence. Wilshere is regarded as one of the brightest young prospects in Europe, and he's earned that reputation as a creative, dribbling, passing, play-making kind of player. It seemed logical to give him exposure in his preferred role, but instead, Wenger's plonked him in a holding midfield position.

I suppose it's part of Wenger's philosophy to have a group of ball-playing, multi-positional footballers who can interchange with each other at will. So Jack Wilshere will learn to be as adept at marking and pressing as he is at passing and creating. And when he finally does get his chance to play in the hole, he'll have all the insights needed to impose himself on a game despite being marked by opposition midfielders.

It's something Wenger's been doing to Walcott for the past three years. He was bought as a striker, and has gained experienced on the right wing. He's got some of the skills to be a striker (pace, finishing) but not the tactical intelligence or the guile. So he's spent three years learning about how to make runs, when to make runs, when to cut inside, when to drift outside... in short, all the things needed to turn him into the next Thierry Henry.

So it's interesting. You follow Arsenal, and you follow the Arsenal in the present. You only see the Arsenal in the present. Wenger manages this team in the present, but views it in the future. He sees Jack Wilshere as a nuggety playmaker with a bit of mongrel about him. He sees Theo Walcott as a pacy striker who like to drift right and cut inside with devastating effect. He sees Alex Song as a behemoth who plays as a hybrid defensive midfielder / third central defender. He sees young players working hard to reach their potential, and he can picture them as the finished article in the future. And from what I can imagine, that's a stunning dream.

So sometimes, I can see why Wenger wants to let his vision play out. If it works, it's going to be a thing of transcendent beauty.

Oh, and we've signed Sebastien Squillaci for £5m. As I've said previously, I'm not sure about this one. For a bit more, we could've got a lot better. Sounds like false economy to me. Oh well, we need experience at the back, and if Squillaci can provide the sort of steadying influence that Sol Campbell did last season, he'll be alright. I guess Wenger's still dreaming that Djourou, Nordtveit and co. can come up trumps.

So on the 244th last day of my 20s, I made a vow to abstain from meat for a week. So I bought KFC for dinner. I'm starting to think that Hot 'n Spicy is better than Original Recipe. It holds its shape better - Original Recipe skin tends to get saturated in fat and oil by the time you start to eat. There's also a mellow heat to the meat, which is a pleasant distraction from the nausea of ingesting all those saturated fats.

Does KFC count as meat? I'm not sure it should.

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