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Jack Wilshere on a short-term deal? The question exposes Arsenal's lack of planning
The Wilshere we remember is gone and even considering bringing him back exposes Arsenal's poor summer planning.
I am inspired to write this because Amy Lawrence in the Athletic today asks the question Would a short-term deal for Wilshere be such a crazy idea?
There should be a couple of ways to go about answering this question, the first is given the situation that Arsenal are in, with just one senior central midfielder available in the team it is not crazy to look at emergency options, including Wilshere.
The second part is that yes it is absolutely crazy that Arsenal's squad building led them to this situation where they have this sort of pretty easily foreseen emergency. Arsenal came into this season with just five senior midfield options in Thomas Partey, Granit Xhaka, Mohamed Elneny, Sambi Lokonaga (new signing), and Ainsley Maitland-Niles (backup at multiple positions).
Looking at the raw numbers, five players for two starting positions seems like plenty of cover, especially without European competitions adding wear and tear. However the midseason African Cup of Nations was not a surprise international tournament, and it was well known that both Partey and Elneny would miss time (thankfully shorter than initially talked about) due to this competition. AFCON also was always going to come after the December festive period of a packed schedule that invites injury (again thankfully Arsenal escaped healthy).
It wasn't crazy to think in August that Arsenal would be in the middle of a midfield numbers crunch in January (I was screaming that we still needed another midfielder before the window closed for exactly this reason) and what do you know Arsenal are facing a midfielder numbers crunch. Arsenal have also gone and made it worse for themselves by loaning Maitland-Niles at the start of January rather than waiting closer to the end of AFCON.
So now Arsenal are looking at a midfield of Lokonga and ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
Arsenal did a lot of good business in the summer to bolster the team but the plan for midfield seems to have been hoping for zero injuries, COVID, and suspensions in December and well that gamble did not pay off.
End Rant and back to Wilshere.
Wilshere since leaving Arsenal
I can't help but think that any links to Wilshere are tinged with nostalgia because the data backs up why he is struggling to find a club that is willing to take a chance on him. Since the 2018-19 season Wilshere has played just 1309 minutes of senior soccer. He has been hit with injuries and general ineffectiveness.
Looking at his stats from last season in the Championship he looks like a shell of his former self. If we compare that to his last decent run of minutes for Arsenal in 2017-18 it is a significant change.
The player that was always looking to get the ball forward appears to be gone, the attacking value sapped from his game along with his ability to beat a player one on one.
It is a sad reality that the player that we loved with Arsenal has gone and if he does sign with Arsenal on an emergency basis it will be important to not expect that to come back.