Every club has their fan favourites.
These players enjoy the adulation a little more than most, and the reason they can bask in the love varies.
Some of these idols bang in the goals with unerring frequency. Others typify the battling qualities that the fans identify with. Others fall into a ‘cult classic’ mould, due to their lenght of time with the club and lack of flair – a la Tony Hibbert.
Then you have players who have represented the club all the way through the youth ranks, and have an obvious love affair with the crest they carry on their chest.
That is Jack Wilshere.
News of his season-long loan departure has strains of positivity, but dominating the thoughts and feedback surrounding his move is one of regret and sadness.
Injury has ever been Wilshere’s nemesis, and his alarming stat of only making 119 Premier League starts in his entire career spells his problem out as clear as crystal.
His loan move to Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth is the chance for Wilshere to finally remind the critics that his talent makes him England’s most talented midfielder.
It is still difficult to make sense of though. Wilshere, meant to be one of the more talented of our squad, spending a season on loan at minnows Bournemouth?
Who’d have thought it? The issue though, is memory.
It is merely memory that fuels the criticism that follows Jack, or lack of it. We have to hark back to 2013-14 for a season relatively unhindered by injury – and Wilshere reinforcing belief that he can be Arsenal and England’s future.
Jack will join up with former Gunner and childhood friend Benik Afobe and it cannot be dismissed how important this factor is. All new surroundings (Jack having been at Arsenal his whole career), setting up home for a year, and the problem of commuting back to Hertfordshire to see his family will cause slight problems, so a friend to aid them in the lonely difficult times may allow Jack to concentrate on matters on the pitch.
There is the small matter of adapting to a different style and requirements of him. One thing is for sure, if he maintains fitness – something that has been beyond him – then the men who are his positional rivals cannot hope to match his burst of speed, vision and transitional capabilities.
One major asset of his move to the South Coast team is the manager. Eddie Howe has forged a reputation as a boss who utilises new ideas, and gets his team to play their own football, rather than reacting to opposition tactics. It is daring, but Jack can learn more from Howe. More importantly, he will be used in the correct way.
It seemed as if Wilshere was off to Roma to join fellow loanee Szczesny, but due to bad blood between the sides thanks to transfer negotiations for Roma defender Manolas going awry, Arsenal have opted for the Cherries.
It is a good thing too. Roma have Strootman, De Rossi, Paredes and Nianggolan in central midfield – and the whole point of Wilshere being loaned out is to gain minutes on the pitch.
Jack adores our club, and we adore him. The fact we have had fleeting glimpses of the man with the errant tongue has made this loan deal so bittersweet.
It is obvious it is for his benefit, it is clear that it could make him a better player. We know he needs minutes.
To just see him in a different jersey will seem alien, but he needs a regular opportunity to test those troublesome limbs. If he had stayed, then he would continue to get sporadic minutes. Santi Cazorla is ahead of him, and there may be a chance to get in the starting lineup through injury, but at Roma, he will be leaving with the promise of more minutes.
Jack must return to cement the potential of legendary status he possesses. If fitness was no issue, then the captains armband would be adorning his arm, but alas, it hasn’t materialised.
Bournemouth beckons, and perhaps a last chance to grab a future at Arsenal.
Good luck Jack. Gooners everywhere will be following your every move.