Thursday, February 11, 2010

Jack Wilshere

The youngster is on loan at Bolton for the rest of the season, and he made his debut against Manchester City on Tuesday night, starting on the left wing in place of Matty Taylor, whose poor form has had supporters begging that he be dropped for at least two months.

Wilshere is left-footed, so the left side would seem to be a natural fit for him, but I am not so sure that he wouldn't be more effective on the right. He didn't put in many crosses, and he looked most dangerous when he ran at defenders and then cut inside towards goal. It seems to me that if he were to do this from the right wing he would be in better position to shoot with his good left foot.

Position aside, he started the game off very well, getting the ball in space on the left and making several pacey runs at the defense. He also played some nice one two's with Johann Elmander. Pablo Zabaleta, an Argentine international that started at right-back for Manchester City, did not seem able to cope with Wilshere's pace and creativity early on.

Unfortunately, his impressive start didn't last. As is normal with such a young player (Wilshere just turned 18 last month), he drifted in and out of the game, combining glimpses of his talent with silly mistakes (he committed at least two fouls when his opponent was at least 60 yards from goal and not posing any real danger) and positional errors.

All in all, it was a good debut. He lasted about 75 minutes, and there can be no doubting his talent. He has a lot to learn obviously, but he seemed to pick things up very quickly, as his defensive positioning and sense of where his teammates would be did improve throughout the match.

It is also worth noting that for the remainder of this season Wanderers will be relying on an almost absurdly young midfield. 31 year old Ricardo Gardner and Matt Taylor (28) appear to have been pushed to the margins of the first team. That leaves Wilshere, who is just 18, Vladimir Weiss (20), Lee Chung-Yong Chris Basham, and Fabrice Muamba who are all 21, Mark Davies, who will be 22 next week, and Stuart Holden, an inexperienced 24 year old. Tamir Cohen is the veteran of the group at 25.

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