Ugh, Jack. Yes, the headline does suggest that I am going to defend him (Over recent pictures of him smoking) , but that doesn't mean I think it was right. He was wrong to smoke, especially in public. After Wilshere was first caught smoking, Wenger went public to criticise Wilshere "You can damage your health at home. You can drink at home but nobody sees it, but when you do it in public, you damage your reputation as well. " Wilshere clearly didn't learn his lesson, as he was pictured smoking again a few days ago. Wenger hasn't commented publicly on the incident, but I think it's safe to assume the Frenchman will not be pleased.
I have no issue with Jack occasionally smoking. If it relaxes him and eases tension, it may actually help him. The bit where he did it publicly, was stupid. But he's hardly some bad boy, doing his best to piss away his talent. The recent image of him smoking fits in quite well with the growing agenda that he has a bad attitude, and that he ultimately won't make it Arsenal. (I assume Arsenal fans complaining about his smoking wanted Tony Adams sold the moment his drinking problem came to light). I've even seen people comparing Wilshere to David Bentley. Thankfully, most people see these comments as wide of the mark, but he is gradually receiving more and more criticism. I guess part of this is because he hasn't yet lived up to his mind-boggling early potential. Obviously, injuries have played their part, missing over a year of Football following his breakthrough his season. But people have gotten impatient with the 22 year old, and are disappointed he hasn't produced more in recent years. I understand these concerns, but I think Jack is too good for him not to push on. Critics say he's living off that sensational performance vs Barcelona at the Emirates a few seasons ago, but if anything, his reputation is relying on that whole season, where he was really, really excellent.
One valid concern is where does he play? As much as a I like Jack, he isn't as good as Aaron Ramsey when playing the box to box role. Mesut Özil has the 10 role sewn up for as long as he stays at the club, and with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Theo Walcott, and new £35 million pound signing Alexis Sanchez all more natural wingers, Jack's future surely doesn't lie on either flank. I think Jack has all the technical attributes to play defensive midfield, but does he have the discipline? I'm not sure. So where does this leave Jack? Should he really be in Arsenal's 1st XI next season? I don't think so, but that's not to say that I don't rate him, or that I don't think he'll be impossible to leave out very soon. It's easy to forget how great he was for large parts of 2012-2013, or his man of the match performance when England beat Brazil, or his surreal one touch passing in the build up to his unfathomably good goal against Norwich.
Aesthetically, he's a great player to watch. Quick off the mark and good close control, he's one of the most prominent players in the video linked above. But what is his best position? Probably, central midfield. In my view, his best attribute is how good he is at playing out the back, picking the ball up from deep, and working his team's position up the pitch. Roy Hodgson's decison to start him in Brazil, particularly aginst Uruguay, where our midfield weren't getting any of the ball, was infuriating. He would have provided England with the passing and dribbling needed between defence and midfield. Where he often runs into problems, is when he goes overboard on this front, and dribbles down "blind allies". This is of course an issue, but decision making problems like these are often eradicated from a players game with the more game time and experience they get. It's easy to forget he's just twenty-two. On the front of decision making, I think if he can manage to curb that natural attacking instinct he has, he may make a good defensive midfield player. His short passing and reading of the game is certainly good enough.
Yes, he's a bit... gobby. But I don't see that as an issue. In fact, I love that we have a player who pisses of opposition fans so much. And he's going to be great. As long as he cuts down from his 40-a-day habit.