By: timbersfan , 12:29 AM GMT on September 22, 2012
The last time Jack Wilshere played competitively for Arsenal was May 22nd, 2011, as Arsenal drew 2-2 with Fulham on the final day of that season.
The idea that he might not play again for well over a year was unthinkable, yet that's exactly what happened. Instead of forging a potential partnership with Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri, Wilshere will return to the Arsenal team looking to forge an understanding with two different players entirely.
no_source / Stuart MacFarlane/Getty Images
Arsenal will get a huge boost when Jack Wilshere finally returns to first team action.
Neither Mikel Arteta or Santi Cazorla were at Arsenal the last time Jack wore the famous red and white but the prospect of the Spanish - English - Spanish triumvirate is mouth watering to say the least. Obviously there are other options in the Arsenal midfield, the return of Diaby is a real boost while Ramsey, Rosicky, Frimpong and Coquelin make it a crowded place, but Wilshere's versatility and quality mean he'll play often.
It's worth remembering that in his first, and only, full season, Arsene Wenger deployed Wilshere as, ostensibly, a defensive midfielder. He and Alex Song (his most regular partner) were tasked with anchoring the Arsenal midfield while Cesc was given more licence to roam in the attacking third of the field. It was part of the manager's education for a player who has always been more naturally attacking in his instincts, but Wenger said at the time, "In our midfield he plays everywhere, he can play in any position because he is tactically intelligent.
“He can defend and he can attack, he's a midfielder. For me a midfielder is not exclusively one position. He is a guy who defends when the team does not have the ball and attacks when we have the ball."
Which goes some way to explain why Wenger was willing to replace Song with Arteta, to great ends thus far, but also shows that Wilshere's return provides the manager with genuine options and a real insight into why another midfielder wasn't on the shopping list this summer.
If necessary he can do what Arteta does – although the likes of Frimpong and Coquelin are more naturally suited to that role – and he can play in the position Cazorla occupies. Throughout his youth career he was seen as an attacking, creative midfield player and I have no doubt that's where he'll end up. In the meantime there's the space between Arteta and Cazorla, and when he's back in action and at 100% it's an exciting prospect to consider Wilshere as the link man for the two Spaniards.
It's as technically proficient a midfield as you could hope for and while there's a certain lack of physicality when you remove Abou Diaby, Wilshere's energy and willingness to make tackles in midfield means it wouldn't be as a big a handicap as some might suggest. He also gives the team another creative outlet and a time when there's renewed focus on the quality of Arsenal's team play, having somebody who works as hard and selflessly as Wilshere can only be a good thing.
It is an ideal scenario and the reality is that Wilshere is still some way away from making his first team return, and further again from being 100% match fit. However, it's little wonder there's such enthusiasm for his comeback, he's got a lot to offer and Arsenal will be much the better for it.