All Guns Blazing: Arsenal fans can reasonably expect more from Jack Wilshere

Arsenal's Jack Wilshere

Arsenal's Jack Wilshere - Credit: EMPICS Sport

Arsenal blogger Alex Bellotti discusses Jack Wilshere’s form and the furore over his smoking saga.

It was a shame to see our winning away run come to an end at West Brom on Sunday, but in the cold light of day it looks like a valuable point.

Heading as we are into another international break, it’s a great feeling to be top of the league and know we’re there for the next couple of weeks at least.

Of course, that wouldn’t have been the case if it wasn’t for a stubborn second-half performance from Jack Wilshere – a remarkable display considering he’d previously had the worst half of football I’ve ever seen him play.

There’s been a lot of furore over young Jack’s smoking saga, and while I understand the club’s wish to downplay it, from an outsider’s perspective I agree completely with the outrage.

There’s nothing wrong with a cigarette from time to time, but when someone’s being paid the best part of £100,000 a week, partly from your own pocket, it’s fair to expect them to make a few minor sacrifices that the rest of us proles don’t have to – especially when it’s to preserve a notoriously fragile physique which is key to his performance.

But since Jack has apologised, let’s just hope this is the last in a string of minor but irritable incidents. Much has been made of the Englishman’s recent form and it’s clear that the pun-filled cigarette debacle took its toll on him early in the game on Sunday.

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Some say he’s not suited to the wing, but I remember watching the same Jack Wilshere dazzling Emirates Cup crowds from a wide position as a 16-year-old.

It’s a case of confidence, which, as Ramsey shows, will always return with hard work.

Importantly, Sunday highlighted the elements of Jack’s game that he needs to work on – releasing the ball earlier and not slowing down the play.

When he makes those trademark driving runs successfully, he ghosts through opposition and opens up the play brilliantly, but all too often they see him tackled and sitting on the ground waiting for a free kick that never comes.

His goal and pass of the match to Olivier Giroud demonstrated the talent and drive which will always see Jack through. But now he’s coming up to the age of 22, he’s approaching maturity and that needs to be reflected in the way he conducts himself off and on the training ground. It’s the difference between being good and being great.

Follow me on Twitter @AlexBellotti