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What does the future hold for Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere with his Bournemouth loan set to expire?

Martyn Cooke



As Jack Wilshere limped off the pitch and down the tunnel at White Hart Lane on Saturday afternoon, the jeers of Tottenham Hotspur supporters filling the air, the most obvious question on the limps of most onlookers was ‘what now?’

You see, since the 25-year-old burst onto the scene as a teenager over half a decade ago he has continuously struggled for form and fitness – the most prominent observation is that he has not fulfilled the obvious potential that he once had in abundance.

He was once the youthful midfield prodigy of English football but has fallen some way short of the lofty expectations that many had when he made his first team debut in 2008.

Injuries and off the field issues have played their part and an inability to secure a place in Arsenal’s starting line-up led him to depart the Emirates Stadium in the summer on a season long loan, with Bournemouth being his chosen destination.

It was supposed to be a move that allowed Wilshere to prove the critics wrong. He was supposed to have a season where he avoided injury, played top flight football on a weekly basis, and had a significant effect on games.

It was supposed to be a year in which the former England international rejuvenated and reignited his faltering career but yet, as he disappeared down the tunnel in one raucous corner North East London, it is hard to come to any other conclusion than the one aired by Alan Shearer: “I think that it’s created more issues [for Wilshere]”.

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Analysing Wilshere’s loan spell at Bournemouth

It is difficult to disagree with Shearer’s comments. It would appear that Jack Wilshere’s time at Bournemouth has raised more questions than answers over his long-term future.

Firstly, it is important to give Wilshere credit for being prepared to exit the ‘big-club bubble’ at Arsenal and to pop his head above the parapet.

It would have been quite easy for the 25-year-old to remain at the Emirates Stadium and spend another season picking up a substantial wage packet whilst sitting among the substitutes and reserves.

We often criticise players for lacking the desire to put themselves in the firing line, so it is only fair that Wilshere receives some credit for being prepared to put himself in the firing line in search of first team football.

The move to Bournemouth appeared, at least on the face of it, to be a perfect match. Under the guidance of Eddie Howe the former England midfielder would be able to play regular top flight football in a team that approached the game in the ‘right way’.

However, things have not quite gone to plan and although it would be wrong to categorise the midfielder as having a poor season neither could it be proclaimed that he has excelled.

Wilshere has made 27 appearances for The Cherries so far this campaign, including 22 starts in the Premier League, which will put to bed the notion that he is not capable of surviving a full season in the robustness of the English top flight without breaking down with an injury.

Despite the ankle issue picked up at Tottenham at the weekend it would appear that the injury is not as severe as first thought – the midfielder could still feature for Bournemouth prior to the end of the season.

However, the statistics do not make great reading.

Wilshere burst onto the scene as an all-action midfield player that could directly influence matches with his creativity and eye for goal and yet he has failed to find the net this campaign and has mustered just two assists.

While statistics are not always an accurate reflection of the true story it does demonstrate that, whilst the 25-year-old has performed well at different points in the season, he has failed to live up to his own high standards.

Wilshere’s time on the South Coast has not been a failure, but neither has it signalled the rebirth of his career at the top level.

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What now for Wilshere, Bournemouth and Arsenal?

Jack Wilshere has been tight-lipped over what his future may be when his current loan deal expires and he returns to North London in the summer.

Eddie Howe has made it clear that he would like to extend the 25-year-old’s stay at Bournemouth, although whether the midfielder has done enough this campaign to justified further effort and expenditure by The Cherries during the close season is an entirely different question.

Indeed, would Wilshere want to remain on the South Coast, where the possibility of winning trophies and titles is a non-entity? Regular game time is all well and good, but you would imagine that the midfielder would want to see himself competing at the very highest level.

Interestingly, there has also been rumours circulating that Arsenal are set to offer Wilshere a contract extension, with his current deal set to expire in just over a year.

However, the midfield situation has not altered since last summer and it is difficult to see how the 25-year-old would be able to force his way beyond the likes of Mesut Ozil, Granit Xhaka, Santi Cazorla, Aarron Ramsey, Fracis Coquelin and Mohamed Elneny into the starting eleven in North London.

In truth, Arsenal’s motivation in offering Wilshere a new deal would be little more than financial, with the aim of avoiding one of their stars from departing on a free transfer when his current contract expires.

So Alan Shearer is right, Wilshire’s loan move to Bournemouth has created more questions than answers.

There appears to be little logic in the 25-year-old returning to the Emirates Stadium in the summer and yet the prospect of extending his stay on the South Coast is hardly the most attractive proposition.

Once again the future of one of English football’s fallen prodigies will be up for debate, with no clear path or conclusion in sight.

Featured Image: All Rights Reserved diandvyanz (diandvyanz)

Martyn is currently a PTA and Research Assistant in the Department of Exercise Science at the Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU). In addition to his teaching role he is also undertaking a PhD in Sports History that is exploring the origins and development of football in Staffordshire. Prior to working at MMU, Martyn spent a decade operating in the sport and leisure industry in a variety of roles including as a Sports Development Officers, PE Teacher, Football Coach and Operation Manager.


Tottenham Hotspur fans react to Danny Welbeck dive

Tottenham Hotspur fans were not pleased with Danny Welbeck’s dive v AC Milan.



Arsenal successfully knocked AC Milan out of the Europa League last night with a 3-1 win at the Emirates Stadium. The hero of the night was England forward Danny Welbeck. The striker scored two goals as Arsenal completed a deserved 5-1 aggregate victory over the Rossoneri.

But Milan had taken an early lead through Hakan Calhanoglu’s bamboozling long-range strike. Arsenal, at that stage, were looking on the ropes. Welbeck though won and then dispatched a penalty to level the scoring. The word ‘won’ being the optimum word.

Welbeck dived for the penalty, there is no doubt about that. Ricardo Rodriguez barely breathed on the Arsenal man, who tumbled to the ground hopefully. When the penalty was given, he looked in disbelief.

Tottenham Hotspur’s English midfielder Dele Alli (2L) is booked for a dive during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on February 4, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL ELLIS / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or ‘live’ services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. / (Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)

For Tottenham Hotspur fans it was a moment they did not appreciate.

Spurs have seen Dele Alli victimised throughout the season, and some would say rightly so, for his diving. There is no doubt that the England midfielder has dived this season and not many Tottenham fans would suggest not.

But the anger here lies with what Tottenham fans believe is hypocrisy. There is also a certain level or irony given a thinly veiled dig by Arsene Wenger against Spurs’ players this season.

After the highly controversial 2-2 draw at Anfield, where Harry Kane was accused of diving v Liverpool, Wenger had this to say, as reported by the BBC:

“I remember there were tremendous cases here when foreign players did it.

“But English players have learned very quickly and might be the masters now.”


“Sometimes players play a little bit with the rules. How far can you go? That is down to the referees.”

With Arsenal their next Premier League opponents, Arsene Wenger’s barb was not hard to see.

When that statement came out Tottenham fans quickly pointed out occasions when Arsenal’s English stars had been caught diving. Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott were prominent examples. Now, in Welbeck, Tottenham have seen another.

Arsenal fans will be happy that their team have booked a place in the next round of the Europa League. On balance it was more than a fair result as over two legs Arsenal outplayed the Italian giants.

But the Welbeck moment certainly put an asterix on the game for Spurs fans.

Here is some of the best reaction from Twitter…

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AC Milan

Victory in Milan, but is this another false dawn for Arsenal and Arsene Wenger?

Arsenal were triumphant in Milan despite their recent miserable form.

Jake Jackman



Photo: Getty Images

Arsenal ended their losing run of four matches with an excellent performance away to AC Milan in the Europa League. This competition has the potential to save the Gunners season and the commitment from every player suggested that they want to go all the way.

They were coming up against a team full of confidence under Gennaro Gattuso. Milan hadn’t lost a match since the end of December. The Serie A club hadn’t conceded a goal in six and had won five of those inside ninety minutes.

These sides came into this fixture in remarkably different form, but football is played on grass and not on paper.

Despite Milan having more attempts, it was Arsenal who created the better chances. They had a couple of half-chances early on before the opening goal.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan has had a hot and cold start to life in a Gunners’ shirt, but he was one of the best players on the pitch in Italy. His goal was emphatically taken as he drove the ball past Gianluigi Donnarumma.

It is important to capitalise when you are on top, especially away from home in European competitions and Arsenal did just that. As the first-half progressed, they continued to create the better opportunities. Both Danny Welbeck and Mkhitaryan had good chances to double the visitors’ lead, but they were squandered.

(Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images)

In stoppage-time of half-time, Arsenal scored a second to give them a commanding lead in the tie. It was a great move from the team and Mesut Ozil found Aaron Ramsey who coolly rounded Donnarumma before putting the ball into the net.

The first-half performance from Arsenal was one of the best that supporters have seen this season. They were better all over the pitch and showed the work rate that they had lacked in previous weeks. Milan pushed in the second half, but they couldn’t penetrate the Gunners’ defence.

Laurent Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi were both excellent. Arsene Wenger will be hoping that both are returning to their best after some uncharacteristic errors in previous matches. The centre-back pairing made eight ball recoveries and were always in the right position on Thursday.

Patrick Cutrone is a teenager with a big future, but the young striker had no luck out of the Arsenal defence and that will encourage the manager.

Another player to emerge with credit is Danny Welbeck. The ineligibility of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and the injury of Alexandre Lacazette means that the Englishman started the game up front for Arsenal. It was a huge opportunity for him after being pushed down the pecking order at the club and he took it with both hands.

The Englishman worked tirelessly and caused problems with his movement.

(Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Although his final product wasn’t great, he was a constant threat and led the defensive effort from the front. Welbeck will never be a leading Premier League striker, but he is effective in matches such as this one. He deserves more opportunities during the run-in.

It would be too soon to get carried away for Arsenal fans. There are still questions regarding Arsene Wenger and the work rate of the players, but this was an excellent performance that finally provides the club with positive momentum. They have had a miserable few weeks and the supporters can get excited about their team once again.

When the draw was made, a lot of supporters checked their expectations when it came to the Europa League. Milan were the overwhelming favourites, but Arsenal have taken a dominant position in the tie and should be able to finish the job in London.

If they can do that, they will move into the quarter-final stage. Although it will be difficult to win it, they will have as good a chance as any.

There have been many false dawns for Arsenal in recent years and this could be another one. That said, it takes enormous character to go away to a huge stadium like the San Siro after a poor run of form and win comfortably.

Considering the criticism that they have had for their lack of desire, few would have thought the Gunners to be capable of a result like this.

It is now up to Wenger to prove that he can get this level of effort and performance out of his players on a regular basis. The Frenchman remains in a difficult position with no margin for error. If he is going to keep his job, he needs to finish the season strongly and win the Europa League.

It won’t be an easy challenge, but this performance and result will give him hope that he can upset the odds to claim his first European trophy.

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Brighton 2-1 Arsenal: Three talking points from the Amex

Arsenal lost for a fourth successive game as Brighton & Hove Albion bullied their opponents into submission.

Rob Meech



Photo: Getty Images

Arsenal suffered their fourth consecutive defeat in all competitions as Brighton & Hove Albion took a giant leap towards Premier League survival.

The pressure on Gunners boss Arsene Wenger, which has intensified since the turn of the year, looks set to reach new heights after another dismal day at the office for his charges.

Goals from Lewis Dunk and Glenn Murray put the Seagulls in control before Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang pulled one back for the visitors on the stroke of half-time.

Despite enjoying the lion’s share of possession, Arsenal were unable to muster an equaliser.

For Brighton, this was a huge result that lifted them seven points clear of the relegation zone.

Here are three talking points…

(Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Is beleaguered Wenger’s position now untenable?

It lurches from one disaster to another for Wenger.

He probably thought the nadir had been reached after last weekend’s limp performance in the Carabao Cup final against Manchester City, when his future became the main topic of debate.

The Frenchman would have hoped for a reaction from his players in the subsequent fixtures.

Instead, his side were brushed aside against City in the Premier League before producing another sub-standard display here against Brighton.

Added to their shock Europa League reversal at home to minnows Ostersunds, it is the first time Arsenal have lost four successive matches since 2002.

After last season’s FA Cup triumph, Wenger penned a new contract that takes him through to the summer of 2019.

Now, however, it’s difficult to see how he can last beyond the end of the current campaign.

Perhaps only by lifting the Europa League, which would automatically qualify Arsenal for the Champions League, could Wenger realistically remain in situ.

Even then, it may not be enough. His players look devoid of any confidence and need an injection of new ideas.

(Photo by Glyn Kirk/Getty Images)

Brighton take a massive step towards safety 

The focus will understandably be on Arsenal, but Brighton’s display should not be overlooked.

This victory extended their unbeaten run in the Premier League to four games and has all but banished thoughts that they might be dragged into a relegation scrap.

Yes, it was a good time to face Arsenal, but Chris Hughton’s side made a fast start with two early goals that went a long way to recording their first win over the Gunners since 1982.

Brighton’s performance bore all the hallmarks of their season so far.

Despite being one of the lowest scorers in the division, they took their chances when they came, exploiting Arsenal’s weakness from set pieces and aerial balls.

In the second half, the home side remained very organised defensively, which was key when the Gunners upped the tempo.

Modest and unassuming, Hughton has done a terrific job on the south coast.

(Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Defensive shortcomings continue to haunt Arsenal 

Wenger has regularly spoken of his belief that Arsenal cannot compete on a level playing field with the likes of Manchester City.

And while his side’s record against fellow ‘Big Six’ clubs is regularly scrutinised, the Gunners’ results against the lesser lights have not been good enough for a club with Champions League aspirations.

In 2018 alone, Arsenal have been beaten by Swansea City, Bournemouth and now Brighton in the Premier League, while losing to Nottingham Forest and Ostersunds in cups.

A lack of leadership has long been an issue on the pitch and it’s an area Wenger has consistently ignored.

Defensively, the Gunners are too easy to bully.

Take Shkodran Mustafi’s defending for the first goal in the Carabao Cup final last weekend, for example.

Particularly away from home, Arsenal are prone to imploding.

Despite the attacking talent Wenger has at his disposal, his failure to invest in proven defenders at the top level looks set to cost him dearly.

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