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Jack Wilshere attracts vast attention any time he is in the matchday squad.
People commented on his Bournemouth performances on an almost weekly basis, now they are examining his Europa League outings with intrigue. Wilshere provokes debate more than almost any other footballer in England at the moment.
His period of fitness to start this season has seen his status elevated again. Calls for an England return are widespread, while Arsene Wenger slots him into Europe’s secondary competition and keeps him away from the Premier League spotlight.
One long-running issue for Arsenal has been fitting Aaron Ramsey in the team with Wilshere. Their respective injury woes have meant there hasn’t been that much time where this dilemma has been clear, but getting the pair in a team along with Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez is a challenge, if not impossible.
They are far from identical midfielders. They offer different skillsets, with Ramsey more of a goal threat, while Wilshere is a more threatening ball-carrier.
The trouble is, though, that Arsenal’s current 3-4-3 does not lend itself to the pairing. Unless one of the duo moves into the front three, they cannot start together. For all Granit Xhaka’s shortcomings, replacing him with Wilshere would surely leave the Gunners far too open in transition.
Wilshere could, of course, move into a deeper role. A role he looked to be drifting towards a couple of years ago, but Wenger has used him in an advanced role this season. That could mean that he sees his future as an attacking midfielder, where many thought his career would be when he broke through all those years ago. With Sanchez and Ozil set to leave, it might just be a case of biding time for the diminutive midfielder.
In a simple shootout right now, though, Wilshere has no chance of dislodging Ramsey. After an indifferent 2016/17, the Welshman is showing signs of a return to his very best of 2013/14. His defensive play can still leave plenty to be desired, but the former Cardiff midfielder is a dangerous prospect when able to run from deep.
Ramsey has warranted the trust of Wenger, and his form in the last few weeks makes him as key to Arsenal as anyone. Wilshere will have a role to play this season, but it is understandable that Wenger remains cautious in his usage of the England international.
Arsenal would have to switch to a 4-3-3 to slot the pair into the team on a regular basis. It remains highly improbable, and leaves Wilshere reliant on cameo appearances as he waits for an injury to get his chance in the line-up.
If he can keep fit, and keep his performances at this level, Wilshere might just force Wenger into a change, however.
Written by Sam Cox
Follow Sam on Twitter @SamRCox_
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