Premier League

Wilshere and Hammers can forge fruitful partnership

 • by Mark Thompson
Share:facebooktwitteremail
news now

The inevitable has finally happened – Jack Wilshere has joined West Ham United.

It might be a move that opens itself up for many a joke about Wilshere and his public image, but it could also be a very good one for both player and club.

Both have been in a bit of a lull, of late. The Hammers have struggled to match, or even come close to matching, their Dimitri Payet-inspired seventh-place finish in 2015/16.

Wilshere meanwhile has, famously, struggled with injuries, 2017/18 being the first season where he played 1000 league minutes or more for Arsenal since 2013/14.

The times, though, are a-changin’. Wilshere often impressed when he made it onto the pitch for the Gunners last season, while West Ham have Manuel Pellegrini in charge. Could this be the start of something new and fresh for both?

What does Wilshere bring?

Wilshere has a very unusual set of skills.

Last season, his game was characterised heavily by build-up passing and dribbling, two usually unfamiliar bedfellows.

Loading...

The 26-year-old is one of the few central midfielders who progresses the ball up the field with it at his feet, rather than bypassing it.

Across Europe’s Big Five leagues, he made the second most successful take-ons per 90 minutes in 2017/18, compared to other central midfielders (3.41). Second only to Ruben Loftus-Cheek, above Tottenham Hotspur’s Mousa Dembélé and new Liverpool signing Naby Keita.

What could Wilshere improve on?

Some criticism is levelled at his end product – last season he only made 0.9 key passes per 90 minutes. The season before, a little better, his 1.38 key passes per 90 at Bournemouth good enough to rank 21st in the Big Five’s central midfielders.

You Might Also Like

Similarly, he contributed significant numbers of defensive actions in years. He made just 1.81 tackles and interceptions per 90 minutes last season. For reference, there were 42 central midfielders in the Premier League who made more tackles alone in 2017/18.

A central midfield needs to do three things: stop the opposition getting the ball up the pitch, stop the opposition from getting the ball in the first place, and getting the ball up the pitch themselves.

Wilshere does two and three, the latter particularly well. But if he’s not going to set up chances directly, then he could probably do with offering more in defence.

How will he fit in at West Ham?

Fortunately for him, West Ham have several options to cover the defensive side of things. Pedro Obiang, Cheikhou Kouyaté and Mark Noble are all players who can operate in the ‘search and destroy’ role, leaving Wilshere freer to focus on moving the ball up-field.

He may need to fine-tune his creative instincts, but Wilshere could turn out to be a decent signing for West Ham.

related
content