It’s the first of a two day week for me, before I disappear off into the distant and sunny shores of Portugal for ten days, so you’d hope that Arsenal could grant me a bit of news, right?
Wrong. The only real talking point on the official site is Aaron Ramsey’s goal of the season against Galatasaray. What a strike that was, eh? He’s been quoted as saying it’s one of the best goals he’s ever scored and from a ‘purity of strike’ perspective, it’s hard to imagine. On his weaker foot, from about 30 to 35 yards, it was one of those that was scored from the second the ball departed from the Welsman’s laces. A fitting and worthy goal of the season winner, in a season where we’ve certainly had our fair share of them.
Perhaps Jack checked in on the official website for some inspiration yesterday, because he decided that he’d get his England goalscoring account underway with two absolute pearlers against the Slovenian’s yesterday. I didn’t watch the game (why would I? It’s England) yesterday, but I did hunt out his goals afterwards and with those two notched up along with the one against West Brom at the end of the season, has Jack found his range all of a sudden?
It’s a shame we have to wait until August to find out, but since he returned to injury towards the end of 2014/15, he has looked to have an extra bit of spark in his game. He’s displayed some very effective cameo appearances when coming on in the final weeks of the season and when he has started he’s been good for both club and country. With Jack there has always been a question as to whether he can shake off what has become a bit of an ‘injury prone’ tag, but having seen what we’ve all seen from him over the last month/six weeks, my thoughts are moving away from ‘can he stay fit’ and more towards ‘who does he replace to secure a first team spot?’.
I put a thought out on Twitter last night about whether Jack could eventually replace Santi in midfield. Cazorla has reinvented himself as an excellent deep-lying playmaker and his vision and ability to see a pass where others cannot means that it’s worked well for him sitting alongside Le Coq. But he’s 31 now I believe and although I have no desires to see him moved on in any way, shape, or form, I do wonder if there is an opportunity for Jack to take that role.
What does he need to improve on in terms of replacing Santi though? Well, his ability to pick a pass as consistently as the little Spaniard, would certainly be one area. The question I intimated online was whether or not ‘vision’ or the ability to spot a pass is something that can be taught, or whether it is natural, to which the next question in relation to Jack is whether he already has that in his locker. I think – and some also concurred via social media too – that he does, but it is more a question as to whether he can ever do it on a regular basis. In his defence (again, as was pointed out to me via social media), Cazorla has a few years on Jack in terms of honing his radar, so there is time for him to develop. But if he wants to be the type of world-beater we all think he can be, then he’s going to need to up his consistency levels fairly soon, because Arsenal are the type of club now who can’t afford to blood a player in the hope he reaches the highest high.
Another train of thought that came from my discussion was whether he needs to replace Santi as a like-for-like at all? After all, he has different attributes and can carve his own style on the team if he is good enough and has enough impact. Footballers should not be shoehorned into certain types of positional demographics. Sometimes you have players that evolve their own position in a team and do so because they are effective, contribute successfully for the team and occasionally you get one player lucky enough to have the team built around them.
Gone are the days when footballers are pigeon-holed into a 4-4-2 formation. Fifteen years ago I’d never heard the phrase ‘defensive midfielder’, ‘deep lying playmaker’ or ‘false nine’, so maybe there’s a position out there for Jack to carve his own?
Who knows. Certainly not me. That’s why I’ve just busted out half a dozen paragraphs or so and still haven’t really come to any concrete conclusion. What I do know, however, is that we have a very talented midfielder who could be on the brink of something very good indeed.