Arsenal face Bournemouth while talented midfielder Jack Wilshere reflects: What a difference a year makes
PUBLISHED: 10:28 14 January 2018 | UPDATED: 10:28 14 January 2018
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What a difference a year makes. Despite Jack Wilshere's ankle ligament strain at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night after he attempted to block a Danny Drinkwater cross during the Carabao Cup semi-final first leg, the future looks bright for the talented Arsenal midfielder who turned 26 on New Year's Day. A fay cry from this time 12 months ago as he watched from the stands as Arsenal played Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium.
It’s a long way from Hitchin’s Priory School to the top flight of English football, but alumnus Jack Wilshere made it to the promised land of the Premier League through hard-work and a steely resolve never to give in.
His signed Arsenal shirt still hangs proudly in the school, a sign to every youngster talent allied with hard work can bring rewards.
The midfielder who celebrated his 26th birthday on New Year’s Day has been in impressive form as he savours the simple joy of playing football without being hampered by an injury or two.
Yet rewind exactly 12 months ago and Wilshere was fearful for his future with the North London giants.
The Hitchin-reared Wilshere had been farmed out on a season-long loan to Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth on the sleepy south coast.
The memory of his impressive performance in a never-to-be-forgotten 2-1 win against the all-conquering Barcelona side of Pep Guardiola at the Emirates back in February 2011 was just that - a memory.
On January 3, 2017, his parent club travelled to the Vitality Stadium to take on Howe’s Cherries - with Wilshere’s name, as a loan player, absent from the team-sheet.
The match ended in a ridiculous 3-3 draw with the Gunners showing their best and worst in 90 minutes, conceding three goals to Bournemouth before rescuing a point in injury time.
What went through Wilshere’s mind that night? Fast forward to January 1, 2018 and it was revealed through his Instagram post on New Year Day.
He wrote: ‘So this time about a year ago, I was a Bournemouth player sitting in the stands at the Vitality watching AFCB v AFC wondering if I would ever play for Arsenal in the Premier League again.
‘I never stopped dreaming and believing. If 2017 has taught me anything it would be never give up. Love playing for this club and long may it continue.’
His post is also a gauge of his confidence, because, after being handed a league start against West Ham at the London Stadium on December 13, he has enjoyed his best run of successive league games for four years.
With Arsenal set to travel to the Vitality on Saturday those who once wrote Wilshere off now hail his performances.
As stories of redemption go, Wilshere’s social media post is a good one.
Perhaps he should have written ‘Never give in’ on the signed Arsenal shirt he kindly gave his former school in Hitchin.
It would certainly be the truth.
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