Is it time for West Ham’s Jack Wilshere to retire?


It may feel like an awful thing to say or even think, that is to suggest a professional player should retire before their playing years are done and dusted. But one wonders if retiring now would actually benefit West Ham’s Jack Wilshere.

Wilshere has been dogged with injury his whole career and signed for West Ham this summer, although he has only played 5 games this season and has been out injured with an ankle injury for over four months. There is no update on when the player will return although it was first announced that he would be back in Manuel Pellegrini’s team in November and that just got delayed week by week and day by day. As we enter into 2019 there is still no sign of him.

Wilshere has played in 10 previous football seasons with his most games played in season 2010/11 where he played 35 times from 38. However unfortunately since then the most games he has been able to play is  27 games which was a couple of seasons ago when he was on loan at Bournemouth.

The truth is though from 470 possible games that he could play, he has only appeared in 171 games. That works out at less than 35% of games he has been available in. It is nothing short of a tragic story.

And tragic it is because Wilshere is a top player and a great midfielder, who distributes the ball so well, can stand up when being counted and tries always to win and be a very difficult opponent. We haven’t even talked about some of his silky skills too so it is worrying and a real loss to football that Wilshire has been injured so many times in his career.

The ex Arsenal player is only 27 years old and if he was to retire it would be seen as a shock. The good news is he would be backed up, a career in punditry and some other form of media would be a given. But there are also many coaching roles he could take on, it’s not the same scenario it was for some footballers in the 1970s and 1980s where early retirement could signal problems in their personal lives.

Hopefully Wilshere can recover and get a few more seasons in and win some trophies but surely all of these mounting injuries cannot be doing his body any good long term, and one can wonder if he will have problems health wise in the future.

For now the best of luck must be shown Wilshere’s way for a full recovery even if history says otherwise. Right now West Ham could do with his influential style and performances.


West Ham must manage injuries over festive period

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Like many other Premier League teams, West Ham have an incredibly important period coming up in December, as they prepare to play seven matches in the space of a month. Each of those is seen as realistically winnable, as the Hammers will face: Newcastle United, Cardiff City, Crystal Palace, Fulham, Watford, Southampton and Burnley. However, at a time that is notorious for causing injury, it is vital that Manuel Pellegrini manages the squad well.

The Chilean is already without Andriy Yarmolenko, Ryan Fredericks, Manuel Lanzini and Carlos Sanchez among others. He’ll be boosted by the imminent returns of Andy Carroll and Jack Wilshere, though they will both need to have their game time managed in order to avoid a return to the treatment table.

Among these two, others who should have an eye kept on them are Marko Arnautovic and Pablo Zabaleta. The Hammers’ leading scorer this season has had trouble with his knee in recent weeks, if that were to be aggravated to the point where he can’t play then the Hammers will be without their main threat, with the impact on the team being heightened due to how quickly the fixtures come along.

In the case of Zabaleta, Pellegrini has already claimed that he will be looking to rotate the Argentine, saying that at 33-years-old he shouldn’t be playing that number of games in such a short space of time. With his usual replacement Fredericks suspected to be out until after the New Year, Pellegrini will have to find a suitable replacement for when Zabaleta is rested. Michail Antonio was used at right back by Slaven Bilic which didn’t go down well, so he may not be used. Another option could be Reece Oxford – seemingly down to his last chance to impress in a West Ham shirt- who played at right back multiple times while on loan at Borussia Monchengladbach last season.

There have been times already where a youngster has come in due to injury and ended up impressing enough to keep their place. Declan Rice and Grady Diangana are the two main examples, as they’re currently regular features in the starting line up. This could encourage Pellegrini to use the likes of Oxford, Nathan Holland, Marcus Browne and Joe Powell at certain points during the festive period in order to keep his older and more experienced players injury free.

The manager will of course need to find a balance between keeping players match fit and fielding a strong side. As he has already stated, it is far from guaranteed that the Hammers will win a plethora of games just because they’re avoiding the biggest teams in the league. However, it is important that they do pick up points, as despite being 14th in the table, they currently sit just four points outside the relegation zone. This is arguably the most vital period of Pellegrini’s tenure at West Ham to date, it is also likely to be the most difficult to manage. West Ham’s manager has struggled at times since moving to East London, though it’s imperative that he and his team get things right in December, as if they don’t they could be in trouble.


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£100 million for 0 points- what has gone wrong at West Ham?


Manuel Pellegrini, the West Ham manager stayed for just over three minutes in the post press conference after the defeat to Wolves at home and cut a lonely figure as he was asked a number of questions. Mostly his responses were predictable, that the team need to be better in defence and score more goals. The feeling is that Pellegrini will be scratching his head wondering what has gone wrong at a club who spent £100 million in the summer.

When you look at the league table it says it all, West Ham are bottom after playing 4 games and losing all four. Just 2 goals have been scored and they have shipped 10, the loss against Wolves was the first time this season that the Hammers have not conceded 2 or more goals in a game. And yet this latest defeat was a huge body blow to the club as the game was set to end in a draw, that was until Adama Traore scored in the 94th minute to give Wolves a stunning victory.

Of course West Ham haven’t always had it easy even this early into this season. Away trips to Liverpool and Arsenal were never expected to be away wins. However losing at home against Bournemouth when in the lead and now the Wolves game puts things into perspective and even at this early stage it would be right to fear for West Ham’s safety.

This situation was never meant to be and how could it after spending so much money in the summer. Felipe Anderson was the star man brought in from Lazio for a cool £40m and it is clear that he will need time to settle, but will he want to stay is the other question? Unfortunately West Ham have been here before with such players who feel the need to wantaway. The last time this happened was with Dimitri Payet, who one moment had a song dedicated to his brilliance and the next he was back at Marseille. Rumours circulated about why he really went back, but they were just rumours.

Jack Wilshire has been another average addition to the team, a player who learned not to win at Arsenal. Wilshire does have quality about him but his injuries have plagued him for most of his career and the struggle within is evident. He will have good games this season but his potential sadly was lost a few seasons ago.

Some of the biggest problems at West Ham under Pellegrini have been the lack of movement especially in midfield, and the team have been guilty of too much ball watching. And why forwards Marko Arnautovic and Hernandez do not play together is anyone’s guess, surely they would link up well given that Hernandez does make good movements off the ball.

Then there is the fan effect and whilst this may sound controversial a quick look at some West Ham forums will reveal that some fans do not care if the club gets relegated. There seems to be this acceptance, if that runs through the stadium that can’t be positive for anyone.

It doesn’t get any easier for the club who after the international break will travel to Everton a ground they lost 4-0 at last season. After that they have two home matches but they are against Chelsea and Manchester United. There is a likelihood that West Ham could still be pointless come the beginning of October, and it seems the person to blame right now is Pellegrini, not many people could have seen this coming from a manager who had previously never finished lower than 8th with his other teams.

Last weekend Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho said that he never looks to the sky unless he is asking for something from the guy upstairs, one would think that Pellegrini may make a few looks up there in the coming weeks.


Jack Wilshere key for West Ham against his former club

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Jack Wilshere’s competitive debut for West Ham was one to forget. He was part of a midfield three which was overrun by an incredibly well drilled and talented Liverpool side, as the Hammers succumbed to a 4-0 loss, following goals from Mo Salah and Daniel Sturridge as well as a Sadio Mane brace. However, if he starts tomorrow against AFC Bournemouth, it could be the perfect chance for the midfielder to ignite his West Ham career.

The 26-year-old Englishman, who has represented his country 34 times, joined the Hammers on a free transfer when his contract with Arsenal expired. He had struggled for game time throughout the latter years of his Arsenal tenure, mostly due to injuries. To get himself regular game time and to prove his fitness Wilshere spent the 2016/17 season on loan with the Cherries.

Though he did suffer a hairline crack in his calf bone, which ended that season with five games to go, the move did fulfil its purpose. It showed that if managed properly –both tactically and in terms of his conditioning- the midfielder can be an asset for a Premier League side over the course of a season.

He kicked on slightly at Arsenal the following season, making 38 appearances in all competitions, including 20 in the Premier League. One significant part of this, is that he didn’t miss any time through injury excluding the Community Shield, which was due to the previous season’s calf bone injury. However, this summer, Wilshere was told in discussions with new Arsenal manager Unai Emery that he could not be guaranteed game time, conversations which led to him moving on and joining the Hammers.

It is now, against the club that helped him to prolong his Premier League career that he will be hoping to earn his first competitive victory for the club he grew up supporting. While the tactics deployed by Bournemouth will challenge Wilshere, they could also bring out the best in his game. Eddie Howe’s side often deploy a high press, putting opposition players under intense pressure and ensuring they don’t have time to think on the ball.

One thing that is criticised about Wilshere’s game at times is that he takes too much time with the ball at his feet. However, if he is able to move the ball quickly, beat the press and catch the onrushing opposing players out of position, then he will be able to use his undoubted creativity and technical ability to create openings for the attackers in the side.

In the opening game of the season, Wilshere spent the first half at the head of Manuel Pellegrini’s midfield three, with Mark Noble and Declan Rice behind him. In the second he was dropped back into the holding two when Rice was replaced by Robert Snodgrass at half time. The position he is deployed in against Bournemouth could slightly dictate the extent to which he is able to put his imprint on the game. However, whether it is from a deeper or more offensive position, he should be capable of impacting the game in a way which is positive for the Hammers with his ability on the ball.

His West Ham career make have gotten off to a false start, but Jack Wilshere has everything needed to get success at the London Stadium. He will be an important player for the Hammers if that success is to start on Saturday. This will be the perfect time for Wilshere to pick up form before the next test he will face… a return to the Emirates Stadium.

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No need for West Ham to panic following disappointing defeat

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It was a tough day at the office for West Ham, one of the toughest they’ll have all season. Following such an exciting transfer window, it was an incredibly anticlimactic 90 minutes which got the Hammers’ season underway, as they succumbed to a 4-0 loss against Liverpool. Goals from last season’s top scorer Mo Salah, two goals from Sadio Mane –one of which was clearly offside- and a late header from substitute Daniel Sturridge secured the points for Liverpool.

As disappointing as the result and in parts the performance were, there is no need for supporters to overreact following this result. Despite spending around £100 million on new recruits, it was always going to be a challenge for a new group of players to face opposition of Liverpool’s calibre.

There were times where the side were clearly unable to deal with the threat that they were facing, others where the midfield were overrun and plenty of occasions where they found it impossible to get out of their own half. However, when coming up against this level of opposition it was obvious that the Hammers would be pinned back at times, the most disappointing aspect is probably that when there were openings at the other end they weren’t taken, with Marko Arnautovic and Michail Antonio both failing to convert relatively easy chances.

Regarding the new faces in the team –of which there were five from the start and one coming off the bench- there was a mixed bag of performances. In truth there wasn’t too much Lukasz Fabianski could do about the goals, Ryan Fredericks had bright moments and Felipe Anderson worked hard and didn’t shirk his defensive duties, but struggled to create anything of note going forward. Fabian Balbuena seemed to struggle with the pace of the game at times, picking up a yellow card for a late tackle on Mane.

One of the brightest sparks for the Hammers was free signing Jack Wilshere, who was often the main player to transition the ball from the back to front, especially during the first half when he was played in front of Mark Noble and Declan Rice. Andriy Yarmolenko, who replaced Arnautovic in the 67th minute, was dangerous at points, pushing Andrew Robertson back more than his team mates had done and putting threatening balls into the box.

Though West Ham and their players shouldn’t be written off following this performance and result, it is disappointing and they will have to improve going forward. However, full judgement should be reserved until upcoming fixtures have been played out. The Hammers have both Arsenal and Chelsea in their next five games, so it is important that they get results against AFC Bournemouth, Wolves and Everton who they will also play in that period.

The next game is at home against the Cherries on Saturday, which is a much more realistic proposition and will see the team take a different approach. Where West Ham were pinned back during this game by one of the best attacks in the world, they should be capable of imposing their game on the opposition next week.

It was clear for all to see that this performance was far from perfect, there were still small glimpses of potential in the side. A positive result against Bournemouth will definitely ease the impact of this disappointing result.


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West Ham’s midfield weakness risks undermining exciting summer

West Ham caught the eye this summer. Hiring Manuel Pellegrini was a bold move after David Moyes guided the club to safety last season. The change in the dugout was met by another busy summer, bringing in big names from big clubs.

Felipe Anderson was the headline acquisition, arriving for over £30 million from Lazio. Andriy Yarmolenko and Lucas Perez also reinforced Pellegrini’s attacking options. Issa Diop and Fabian Valbuena were brought in at centre-back, Lukasz Fabianski arrived from Swansea to become first choice in goal and Ryan Fredericks signed as a free transfer from Fulham.

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Yarmolenko is yet another hopeful Hammers punt

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On the face of it, West Ham appear to be doing some decent transfer business this season.

Manuel Pellegrini has made good on his promise to sift through the dead wood and bring in some new faces, whilst also making it clear that other players are available for the right price.

Quite why he wants to part with Michail Antonio is anyone’s guess, especially for a reported £15 million, but the Chilean will have his reasons. Continue reading

Jack Wilshere confirms Arsenal departure after Emery meeting

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Jack Wilshere has confirmed he is leaving Arsenal at the end of this month when his current contract with the club expires. The midfielder who has been on the books of the north London club since he was nine announced his decision on social media after a meeting with Unai Emery, the club’s new manager.

The 26-year-old met with Emery and claims his “playing time would be significantly reduced” under the new boss.

“Such was my desire to stay that I had in fact recently agreed to sign a financially reduced contract in order to commit my future to the club,” Wilshere wrote on Instagram.

“However, following my meeting with the new manager I was made aware that, although the reduced contract offer remained, it was made clear to me that my playing time would be significantly reduced should I decide to stay.

“I am sure everyone can understand that at this point in my life and career I need to be playing regular first team football and following my meeting with Mr Emery I came away feeling that it would be very difficult for me to do so at Arsenal. Given this, I feel I have no option but to pursue other opportunities in order to progress my career on the pitch.”

Wilshere made 197 appearances for Arsenal, including 38 last season in what was his best tally since 2013/14 in what has been an injury-ravaged period.

The midfielder was left out of Gareth Southgate’s England party to the ongoing World Cup in Russia. Everton, Juventus and Besiktas have been linked with Wilshere in the past but Wilshere is keeping mum about his next destination.

“I’m feeling fit, sharp and strong and will be working tirelessly to ensure I am in peak condition ahead of the new season,” he continued. “I’ll now be taking the time necessary to consider my options before deciding on the next stage of my career. I would like to place on record my respect for Mr Emery and my appreciation for his honesty and candor [sic], and I wish him, the team and the club all the very best for the future.”

Wilshere became Arsenal’s youngest-ever player when he made his debut aged 16 and 256 days in a Premier League win over Blackburn Rovers in 2008. He was named PFA Young Player of the Year in 2010/11 and also earned a place in the PFA Premier League Team of the Year that season.

Wilshere singled out Arsène Wenger for praise and thanked “everyone at the academy for helping me to fulfil my dream and of course the fans, who I have always shared such a special relationship with.”

Arsenal also released a statement: “Everyone at Arsenal would like to wish Jack Wilshere a successful future following his decision to seek new opportunities. Since joining our Academy more than 17 years ago aged just nine Jack has been a tremendous player for the club and a much-loved member of the Arsenal family. Thank you Jack for your contribution and the fantastic memories. Good luck in the future.”

Southgate right to omit Premier League stars Joe Hart and Jack Wilshere from England’s World Cup Squad


With England’s World Cup squad set to be announced any time now (at the time of writing of course) the major news is that West Ham goalkeeper Joe Hart and Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere have been left out of Gareth Southgate’s 23-man squad boarding the plane to Russia this summer. Speculation has been rife in recent months about the identity of the three goalkeepers Southgate would be taking to the World Cup with him, and it would appear that Hart is the one to miss out with Jack Butland, Jordan Pickford and Nick Pope the three keepers of choice. This should of course bode well for the future, with Pope the oldest of the three at just 26.

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Euro Fantasy League Podcast – #17 – Should Jack Wilshere go to the World Cup? Arsene Wenger’s Departure, and Juventus Wrap Up Serie A Title


The lads go through the latest goings on in the Premier League, Serie A and La Liga as Juventus wrap up the Serie A title, Swansea are relegated from the Premier League and Barcelona lose in the league for the first time this season.

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