Will Tidey - Jack Wilshere has the talent to define his generation
Published: 21 Oct 2010 - 06:59:47
It's been Wayne's world this week, but buried in the midst of it was yet another commanding display of passion, poise and imagination from the best young footballer in the country.
Jack Wilshere's performance against Shakhtar Donetsk was nothing short of sensational. His movement, passing and intuitive reading of the game belied his 18 years, and consolidated the belief he can rise to the very pinnacle of the game.
It was Wilshere's second dominant showing in four days at the Emirates. Against Birmingham his tiny frame conducted the midfield warfare, only for a crazy late lunge to steal the headlines.
Arsenal's Player of the Month for September was still treated to a eulogy from Arsene Wenger afterwards, who called him "the complete player" and dismissed the sending off as a "one-off" from "one of the best players on the pitch."
There was even the suggestion from some quarters than Wilshere's red card carried a positive message for Arsenal. Wenger's team have been accused of being too soft for too long, and the presence of an ultra-competitive tackler in the middle of the park could be the final piece in the puzzle.
Could Wilshere be the next Patrick Vieira? It seems a laughable suggestion in stature, but in influence it's looking increasingly plausible.
Wenger was at the Wilshere Alter again on Tuesday night. "His maturity is light years ahead of his age; that's a sign of talent," he said after watching his latest prodigy score his first Champions League goal in a 5-1 romp.
Wilshere is clearly relishing the Champions League stage this season, having also been highly influential in a 3-1 win at Partizan Belgrade at the end of last month. That game saw a backheel assist for Andrei Arshavin that perfectly illustrated Wilshere's instinct and 'feel' for the game.
The comparisons with Paul Scholes are obvious. Both are diminutive in stature, and both possess that unfathomable ability to create space and time when they have the ball. And in footballing parlance, both have clearly "got a pass".
It doesn't stop there. James Lawton of The Independent believes Wilshere's "authority" and "confidence" is comparable to that shown by Bobby Charlton, Alan Ball, Bobby Moore and Michael Owen at a similar age.
Wenger has compared Wilshere's balance and change of direction to Arsenal legend Liam Brady, who responded by saying the comparison flattered him - and not the "special" talent following in his footsteps.
So good is Wilshere that Arsenal fans are probably already worried he'll leave them.
And sooner rather than later, one of England's staple midfielders will surely have to step aside to allow the flag bearer for a new generation to take his rightful place. Like Rooney before him, Wilshere will carry the hopes of a nation. And stand or fall on whether he delivers.
At Old Trafford they used to call Rooney the English Pele. Does that make Wilshere the English Maradona?
- FOOTBALL.CO.UK BLOGGER:Will Tidey
- Will Tidey writes on sport for CNN, Eurosport-Yahoo! and Bleacher Report, amongst others. His first book, 'Life with Sir Alex', an account of Sir Alex Ferguson's 25-year reign at Manchester United, is set for release in October this year. Pre-order it now at http://tinyurl.com/6xzl62b. And follow Will on Twitter here - www.twitter.com/willtidey
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