West Ham was forced to share spoils with Leicester City on Saturday. The Hammers would ruin missed opportunities as the Foxes pegged back in the closing stages. Jack Wilshere’s long-awaited return from injury, however, offered respite.
On a scorching afternoon in East London, positives were few and far between for Manuel Pellegrini. Although the Hammers dominated possession, their defending left a lot to be desired. Leicester had it too easy hacking into a metal firewall planted by the Chilean.
West Ham had endured a three-game losing run. Just when the faithful envisaged an end, the defence bottled it again. Twice they led and twice they capitulated. Lucas Perez’s fine finish was cancelled by an injury-time Harvey Barnes strike which turned three points into one for the Irons.
“We conceded two easy goals, including one in the last minute of the game,” Pellegrini told the Hammers official website. “In most part of the second round, we are conceding two goals in each game, which is too much.”
Amid the heartbreak, Wilshere’s comeback lifted the spirits. At least, momentarily. The ex-Arsenal man hadn’t featured for the club since the year’s turn, plagued by various degree of an ankle injury. Although not the sort of welcome party expected, Wilshere must take advantage.
The Englishman’s immense talent is never in doubt. His affinity for the treatment room, however, chafing. When fully fit, he is one of the best midfielders in the Premier League. Tough, fearless, he is instrumental both in attack and defence. One minute he’s jogging with the ball, another he is gone. Wilshere is able to stay on the ball due to his great strength which allows him to create chances.
Finding that balance, though, is what makes the 27-year-old an oddity in football. After some fine run of games, he tends to go off the rail with an injury. He was like the senior prefect in Arsenal’s injury school. He suffered about 13 different injuries since breaking into the Gunners’ first team in 2009/10 season.
The move to West Ham was supposed to end his injury woes. However, it’s been the same bane for the once-touted ‘ future England captain’. Wilshere visited the treatment room twice, amounting to over six months.
Before his latest return, Wilshere made five appearances, starting four. The 27-year-old garnered 344 minutes since arriving, just 10 in four months. West Ham’s last three matches will be crucial.
Wilshere has two more years left on his contract. At 27, he still has loads of productive years ahead. However, the next 12 months could decide the rest of his career.
If he manages to avoid the treatment room, he will play a key part in the Iron’s campaign. In case of the reverse, it will be unsurprising to see Pellegrini cut his losses and ship the midfielder off.
Written by Toby Prince
Follow Toby on Twitter @prinzToby
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