March Player of the Month
Whereas finding a Player of the Month for January and February was a slightly onerous task with a plethora of contenders to sort through, so a miserable March has seen few candidates compete for the award. This is largely due to our old foe injury, with the likes of Walcott, Fabregas, Song, Djourou and Szczesny all succumbing to the lure of the treatment table. Squad players such as Denilson have endured some rotten form whilst Abou Diaby continues to fail to stake a claim because he cannot string three games together. For that reason, it is probably about time we parted ways in the summer. A month which has seen us win only one game (at home to League One opposition) and exit two competitions is hardly likely to be bursting with a repertoire of spellbinding individual performances.
However, as Morrissey once crooned, some lights never go out. If you look up the word "consistency" in the dictionary, I`m pretty sure that by now you should be presented with the dreadlocked profile of Bacary Sagna, who would be competing for headroom in the Player of the Season award if he were performing in a more fashionable position. Laurent Koscielny has quietly gone about his business after attracting unwelcome attention for his part in the goal that won the Carling Cup Final for Birmingham (incidentally, I make that Szczesny`s fault more than Koscielny`s, but these are mere semantics). Lack of mental strength is a common and rather tired accusation thrown at this squad, but Koscielny has shown an abundance of it. Gael Clichy too has hushed those that were quietly murmuring for Gibbs` inclusion at his expense earlier in the season.
However, March`s Player of the Month steps up to the podium for the second time this season. In a month of chaos and confusion, one consistently positive theme has been the never say die attitude of the side`s youngest charge. Jack Wilshere is metronomic, he carries on where others falter. Wilshere has become a bona fide first team starter in under six months, remoulding himself into a box to box midfielder, capable of both the arts of defence and attack. As with the embryonic development of Cesc Fabregas, you`ve the impression that Jack only really need add goals to his game to start blossoming into the complete midfielder. This month, Wilshere has stood toe to toe with the Xavi and Iniesta in the Nou Camp, in my opinion, was the best player on the pitch at Old Trafford bar van der Sar and has spent most of the month without the class of Fabregas alongside him.
Though Fabregas` absence always hurts the team in a way that is not expounded upon enough, it will have been invaluable for Wilshere`s education. In his captain`s absence, Wilshere has been tasked with being the main man at the head of the midfield triangle. Arsenal`s passing can sometimes become laboured and slow without Fabregas, but Wilshere`s cultured left foot is capable of opening the pitch out. At the Hawthorns on Saturday, I lost count of the amount of times he opened his body out and sand wedged the ball out to Arshavin on the left. He recycles the ball so well and so accurately, his pass completion stats are freakish. This is also because Wilshere has a maturity a lot of young players lack, he doesn`t try to do too much with the ball unnecessarily. The impudence of youth can often equate to players trying too hard to hurry the game and split a defence at every single available opportunity. Wilshere has the intelligence to realise that sometimes keeping the ball moving quickly over a few yards can be just as beguiling for opponents if done accurately and constantly.
Wilshere`s game has matured very quickly. Earlier in the season, though the raw talent was evident instantaneously, there were small errors you would expect from a teenager. Often he was caught in possession requiring too much time on the ball. His tackling was, at times, frankly atrocious. But good players have talent, great players constantly harness and adapt their game. Since his red card for an x rated lunge on Nikola Zigic back in October, I can scarcely recall a Wilshere tackle that has been close to reckless or even mistimed. To emphasise the point, Wilshere has four yellow cards accrued in all competitions this season. Whilst it is tantamount to the English disease to value perspiration over inspiration, one still must not ignore the importance of endeavour. Wilshere keeps going, even when all looks lost. He looks like he is growing into a perfect blend of bite and ballet. Likewise, I am keen to avoid a further national disease of hyperbole, but should he continue to accelerate his progression at the same rate, talk of him being a future Arsenal captain may not be too wide of the mark. Everybody likes to see a local boy rise through the ranks and such players are usually treated with kid gloves by supporters, but for now, Wilshere is earning our avuncular affection.LD.
August- Tomas Rosicky
September- Jack Wilshere
October- Samir Nasri
November- Marouane Chamakh
December- Samir Nasri
January- Cesc Fabregas
February- Robin van Persie
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