Run the midfield: Jack Wilshere
"Jack is a fantastic footballer. He could be an extremely influential player at the top level of the game.”
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger
“This is not normal: to be so young and so good."
Fabio Capello, England boss
“He’s an exceptional talent, the future of England. And he will bring them glory, for sure."
Cesc Fabregas, Gunners skipper
What else is there to say? Jack Wilshere’s talent stands out like a lighthouse on the rocks.
The teenage sensation is a technically gifted midfield menace with ability and composure that belies his age. He’s the future of Arsenal and England.
Wilshere could have been forgiven for being overshadowed by his inventive team-mates, but he’s established himself as a key playmaker at the age of 19.
Here he gives his tips on carving open the opposition’s defence, while Coerver Coaching’s Alfred Galustian (a man who's regularly worked with Arsene Wenger) provides analysis and advice on how to play like Jack.
Demand the ball
Jack: A playmaker should always want to receive the ball. At Arsenal, I’m lucky to have Cesc [Fabregas]. He’s a dream to play with because he’s always in space and he always finds you when you’re in space, giving me time to think and play the next pass that will keep the flow of our play moving.
Alfred: On average a playmaker will have three seconds to demand, receive and distribute the ball. Only players with a high level of technical ability will be able to execute this with speed and precision.
The Drill: Play like Arsenal: Part One
Awareness gives time and space to play
Jack: Look around when the ball is coming towards you. It helps to know what’s going on around you. Being aware of this allows you to observe how play is developing and to see where to play the next ball.
Alfred: It’s important to be thinking about the next pass before you receive the ball, but it’s essential that your first touch is excellent. It’s not as simple as controlling the ball. It’s about cushioning the ball – you don’t want it under your feet, but at the same time you don’t want it too far out of your feet so that your inviting the opposition to win back possession. Of course this depends on where your markers are and how much space you have around you. Before you receive the ball, think about where you want to take the ball next so that your first touch can guide the ball in the direction you want to head.
The Drill: Master first touch: Part Three
Stay a step ahead
Jack: It’s always important to know what you’re going to do with the ball before it comes to you. Before you’re in possession, you’re already continuously thinking and then when the ball comes to you, you can either play one touch or you can take a touch and play the ball into space.
Alfred: Jack has the essential playmaker qualities – good communication, movement and anticipation. However, crucially you need to build on your technique. You need to be able to manipulate the ball and then make the right choice with your pass. But don’t stand and stare admiring your pass – make sure you’re on the move, looking for the next pass – staying a step ahead of the opposition. Think, two three passes ahead. Playing small sided games will help you master this skill – activating your brain as well as your feet.
The Drill: Play like Arsenal: Part Three
Play to your strengths
Jack: The Arsenal formation suits my style of play perfectly and is a great environment for a playmaker. We have one holding midfielder and two going forward, so I think 4-3-3 is most suitable for facilitating the play of a playmaker.
Alfred: Playing the right system is important, but a good line of communication and understanding is just as crucial. This is not only asking for the ball, but asking at the right time and in the right place. Communication in this context is not only verbal; it can be eye contact or hand signals.
The Drill: Play like Arsenal: Part Two
Jack Wilshere wears the new CTR 360 Maestri II, a boot that helps the playmaker to receive, control and distribute the ball to Take Control of the game. On-sale now - visit www.nikefootball.com
How to keep possession: Perfect your first touch
How to keep possession: Protect the ball
How to keep possession: Alter the point of attack
How to keep possession: Work on your shape
How to keep possession: Stay on the move
How to keep possession: Be forward-thinking
Jack Wilshere: How to keep possession