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Jack Wilshere – Is a fairytale Arsenal return on the Cards?

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“Super.. Super Jack…Super… Super Jack…Super…Super Jack…Super Jacky Wilshere.🎵🎵”

This was how the Arsenal faithful serenaded a 19-year-old Jack Wilshere after he’d put in a sublime display against Barcelona in the 2011 Champions League. The midfielder who came through the Arsenal Academy had dominated a Barcelona Midfield that comprised of Xavi, Iniesta & Busquets. His brilliance was such that Arsene Wenger described Wilshere as a player who had “Spanish technique with an English heart.” Wilshere had the potential of becoming an Arsenal midfield dynamo for years to come, but injuries plagued a potentially legendary career. Let us look at his career & how a return to Arsenal might be on the cards.

Early Beginnings

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Born in Stevenage, England, Jack Wilshere developed a passion for football at a very young age. He joined the Arsenal Academy at the age of 9 in 2001. Wilshere underwent a period of tremendous growth in the academy with his sumptuous ability on the ball being clearly evident in his early days in the academy. He even went through a youth program at Luton Town before e was promoted to the Under-16 side at Arsenal. At the mere age of 15, he was named the captain of the Under-16 team and was even thrown into the Under 18 scene. After spending a season in the Under 18 team, Wilshere joined the Arsenal reserves before earning his long awaited promotion to the first team.

A career plagued by injuries

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At the beginning of 2009-10, Wilshere was loaned out to Premier League outfit Bolton Wanderers on a season-long loan. Jack impressed during his loan spell at the club often playing as an advanced box to box midfielder. Although he was injured for a major chunk of the season, his performances caught the eyes of Arsene Wenger. After spending a season on loan, Wenger reintroduced Wilshere into the first team dynamic and soon became a regular starter in the heart of the Arsenal midfield.

Wilshere cemented his position as a box to box midfielder for the Gunners who could also play as a Number 10. Wilshere’s ability to play intricate passes, link up with the attackers & charge forward with the ball at his feet was a joy to watch. Wilshere stayed at Arsenal for 6 seasons before joining Bournemouth on loan in the 2016-17 season. The loan move was an attempt to get regular first-team action but even though there were some notable performances, injury severely restricted his playing time at the Cherries. After returning to Arsenal, Wilshere put in praiseworthy performances whenever he was on the pitch but after the departure of Wenger, Wilshere left his boyhood club in a permanent move to West Ham.

After making just 19 appearances in 2 seasons at West Ham, Jack left the club and is currently a free agent. Wilshere’s footballing brilliance was evident whenever he stepped onto the pitch but successive long term ankle & ligament injuries coupled with long, drawn-out rehabilitation plagued the playing career of the Arsenal talisman.

Post West Ham Exit

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After his departure from West Ham, Wilshere signed a short term deal with the Cherries and even featured for the Cherries in the Championship. But after 6 months, Bournemouth released the player, leaving him with nowhere to play at. Wilshere has struggled with mental health issues throughout his career which is understandable for a player who has spent almost his entire career on the sidelines. In August 2021, Wilshere gave an interview to THE ATHLETIC where the former England International opened up on his Arsenal regrets & going through a period of depression while rehabilitating from injuries. He then started appearing on football talk shows as a Pundit while continuing his recovery and was then offered a chance by his boyhood club Arsenal to train with the first team while looking for a new cub.

Is a dream return on the cards?

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Mikel Arteta reached out to Jack Wilshere after the midfielders life struggles came out in the public. The Arsenal manager had shared the dressing room with Jack during his playing career & offered him the chance to return to Arsenal and use the training facilities during his recovery. The Arsenal social media handles regularly feature photos of Jack training with the first-team squad and it’s evident that the 30-year-old midfielder is loving life back at Arsenal.

Arteta has been asked numerous times about the future of Jack & whether he plans to sign him for the club. Although the Spaniard has never hinted at a return for Wilshere, he has reiterated the fact that Jack can 100% play in the Premier League. Currently, it’s difficult to imagine a role for Jack in the Arsenal setup. With Xhaka & Thomas forming a solid midfield partnership & players like Odegaard excelling at the club, Wilshere’s best position in the team can be as a backup to the 2 central midfielders. If the training ground reports are to be believed then Jack certainly has a lot to offer on the pitch and if a dream move to Arsenal does take place, then the move could make perfect sense for the Gunners. Arsenal’s squad is full of young talented players & Jack’s experience can act s a pivotal factor in their development as a team.

Denouement

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In a recent interview with TalkSport, Jack mentioned the fact that the whole point of returning to Arsenal was to “build up his match fitness” & that “he doesn’t know what lies ahead.” His aim was to secure a move in the January Transfer Window and with the window now open, it’ll be interesting to see whether the Englishman will be offered a contract by a club. Wilshere deserves a chance to prove himself at the top level again & Arsenal might just be the perfect move for him. If a move does happen, then the Gunners faithful will definitely shower their love on a player who was once their shining star!

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Emile Smith-Rowe: Arsenal’s Present & Future
Martin Odegaard: Arsenal’s very own Luka Modric

         












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Burnley vs Watford: Match Preview

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Burnley will be back in Premier League action for the first time since January 2, hosting Watford at the Turf Moor on Tuesday, January 18.

Just like Burnley, Watford are also struggling upon their return to the Premier League, as they find themselves without a win in their last eight matches across all competitions.

The Hornets held Newcastle to a 1-1 draw over the weekend  Joao Pedro scored late in the game to salvage a point for Claudio Ranieri’s men.

Burnley are rocked-bottom of the league table after taking just 11 points from their opening 17 games in the top-flight. Sean Dyche’s side has won just one game all season, coming against Brentford back in October.

Since then, the Clarets have struggled to find a good run of form as they only managed four draws since that win over Brentford.

A game against Watford could be the opportunity Burnley so much need to pick up their best run of form with interesting fixtures lined up for them.

After the game against Watford, the Clarets face Norwich City, West Ham United and Brighton & Hove Albion in their next three games.

Watford’s draw over the weekend means they are just a point above the relegation zone and Ranieri would have a lot of work to do if he does not sort out the challenges in his team.

WHERE AND WHEN?

Venue: Turf Moor
Date: Tuesday, January 18
Time: 19:30 GMT

TEAM NEWS

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If Burnley are struggling, it’s quite understandable as Dyche’s team have had some notable injury concerns. Going into the game against Watford, the team could be without Johann Gudmundsson, Nathan Collins, Dwight McNeil, Charlie Taylor, Erik Pieters, Connor Roberts and Matej Vydra. Maxwel Cornet’s absence is due to the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations while Ashley Barnes will also sit out.

Watford on the other hand also have injury concerns in their team. Kwadwo Baah and Ismaila Sarr are out due to injuries while the AFCON has taken the attention of William Troost-Ekong, Adam Masina and Imran Louza.

MATCH ANALYSIS

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Burnley may have won their last three games against Watford across all competitions with the Hornets winning only one (one draw as well), but Tuesday night’s fixture is far from the past games we have seen. Both teams seem to be struggling but Watford have fared better as compared to the Clarets.

Watford have failed to score a goal in the last three games against Burnley but that could be about ending following the likely involvements of Joshua King and Emmanuel Dennis with Pedro supporting them in the attack. The trio have been directly involved in 24 league goals already this campaign and have been the driving force for Watford. Pedro was in sight against Newcastle but the game against Burnley will need all three firing if Ranieri’s side are to walk away with the maximum points.

Burnley losing Chris Wood is a huge blow but it would now be the turn of the defence to help the team considering the departure of a key goalscorer for the rest of the season until a replacement can be brought into the team in time.

POSSIBLE STARTING XIs

Burnley: Pope; Lowton, Tarkowski, Mee, Taylor; McNeil, Westwood, Cork, Gudmundsson; Rodriguez, Lennon

Watford: Foster; Femenia, Cathcart, Samir, Kamara; Sissoko, Kayembe, Kucka; Dennis, King, Pedro

MATCH PREDICTION

Burnley 1-2 Watford












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Aston Villa January Transfer Window 2022: Analysis

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Aston Villa fans are getting their hopes high for all the right reasons, it seems. As the new Villa manager, Steven Gerrard, has gone all guns blazing in the winter transfer window so far.

The Liverpool Legend is slowly making his way back into the Premier League. This time as a manager of an out of confidence Villa side. The early days have not been that telling for Gerrard though. But for sure it is looking a development in progress from Villa’s perspective. The Claret and Blue faithful are pretty much accepting the style of play that their new manager has brought with him.

Although, all of the developments were ongoing. Gerrard was still looking to add some fresh new faces to his squad through this transfer window. And so far as it turns out it has been a saving grace for the Lions. And the Villa fans could be hopeful for some more signings as the team looks to get back on track.

Coutinho returns to the PL

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In the blink of an eye it happened, and it is the dream duo back together! Coutinho and Gerrard reunite, but this time for a new outfit. Gerrard has made his intentions clear, after signing Coutinho on loan from Barca till the end of the season. The deal saw the Villa fans, as well as the Liverpool faithful around the globe appreciate the move. Although, it had been 4 years since the little magician left Premier League for Spain.

Aston Villa faced Manchester United in the Match day 22 of the Premier League. It is the 68th minute, Villa are 2 goals down and you can see some of the fans already leaving the Villa Park. On comes the Brazilian from the bench to mark his return in front of thousands of Villa fans, hoping for a masterclass from their main winter signing. What happened next is just football at its most beautiful.

But you just knew it had to be him. Coutinho returns the backing by an equivalent player of the match performance. Scoring and assisting upon his return to the English top tier football, and that too against Manchester United. You just cannot write such scripts.

If this return is anything to go by, then this is surely the beginning of something very major being about to happen at Villa Park. The Claret and Blue could be in for a treat if the Brazilian performs consistently throughout the rest of the season.

MUST READ: How will Coutinho fit in at Aston Villa

Digne, the answer to defensive woes?

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Digne in French means ‘worthy’. Lucas Digne was surely worthy of being handed his debut, just after getting transferred here to Villa Park. The Frenchman made the most out of the runout, and did not fail to impress his new gaffer. Steven Gerrard could take a big sigh of relief by his sudden signing, in this creative left back from the rivals at Merseyside. As per the recent changes are concerned, the signing of the French full back just increases the competition in the squad. Matt Targett’s position has come under an obvious threat, by the addition of the in-form Digne.

But at the same time it just ensures a healthy competition in the squad for the place in the playing XI. As a manager you want your players to give their best, game in game out. But you also need to make some strong changes to just let them know that their place in the squad is not invincible, even though they have not been performing up to the billing.  Luckily for the Villa fans the Frenchman comes in buffed with experience and a lot of skill-set to offer. Gerrard’s system requires a strong a flank play. That Villa were missing. Now with the addition of Lucas Digne, it looks all sorted. But we will still have to wait and see how this deal turns out in the long term.

In hindsight the transfer market for The Lions  have surely been eventful. Although, they will be watched keenly over the coming months, as to how things are shaping up. But given a good balance, and some terrific new signings, Villa could be a side to beat as we come to the business end of the Premier League season.












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Burkina Faso vs Ethiopia: Match Preview

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Burkina Faso were gifted a lifeline to stand a chance of qualifying from Group A after beating Cape Verde in their second group game in the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations.

The Stallions will now face Ethiopia in the last group game on Monday, January 17 as they looked to cement their place in the knockout stages.

Hassane Bande was the match-winner in the game against the Blue Sharks as Burkina Faso recorded a 1-0 win to earn their first three points.

Ethiopia’s tournament seems all over following a demolishing defeat to host nation, Cameroon in their last game. The Walyas were on the receiving end of the first four-goal scored in the competition as braces from Karl Toko Ekambi and Vincent Aboubakar ensured a 4-1 victory for the Indomitable Lions.

The last group game is crucial for Burkina Faso considering they are levelled on points with Cape Verde, who face Cameroon in their last game.

WHERE AND WHEN?

Venue: Kouekong Stadium.
Date: Monday, January 17.
Time: 16:00 GMT.

TEAM NEWS

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Burkina Faso have a number of injuries to worry about ahead of the important clash against Ethiopia. Captain, Bertrand Traore is yet to recover from testing positive for coronavirus. He missed the win over Cape Verde last week and will see out this game as well. Dango Ouattara, Saidou Simpore and Soumaila Simpore are doubtful for the game but their presence has not been ruled out.
Bande, who came in and scored as the replacement for Traore should keep his place in the team for the game against Wubetu Abate’s side.

The one-time  AFCON champions have no injury concerns for the upcoming game while Yared Baye, who received a red card in the opening game is set to return to the team after serving his game ban. With no chance left, Abate will look to give opportunities to some players who are yet to receive any appearance in the competition.

PRE-MATCH ANALYSIS

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Burkina Faso stands out as favourites in this game but they will have a lot to do to get past Ethiopia with ease. A tactically disciplined side, Ethiopia’s lack of goals has been due to their failure to take their created chances. Abate’s side have put on a good show in their opening two games, creating openings and clear cut opportunities but failing to take them.

Burkina Faso were clinical with their only big chance against Cape Verde, and if that feat will be followed, they could be gaining six points from three games. Traore’s absence may be a worry, but it should Kamou Malo’s team the needed confidence to play collectively on the attack.

PREMIER LEAGUE PLAYER FEATURE

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Aston Villa may not be missing Bertrand Traore after all following their return to Premier League action saw them record a dramatic 2-2 draw with Manchester United. However, on the path of the player, he may not be having a spot tournament. The 26-year-old has just one appearance and will miss the third group game due to testing positive for covid. With regards to goal contribution, Traore has just one assist and a knockout qualification could see him return to action.

PREDICTED LINEUPS

Burkina Faso: Koffi; E.Tapsoba, Yago, Dayo, Kabore; Toure, Guira, Sangare; A.Tapsoba, Bayala, Bande.

Ethiopia: Shanko; Yusef, Tamene, Debebe, Hamid; Yohannes, Alemu, Dagnachew; Nesir, Hotessa, Gebremichael.

MATCH PREDICTION

Burkina Faso 2-0 Ethiopia












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