The Jack Wilshere derby is one in which all involved parties will have something to prove. Both Arsenal and West Ham have gotten off to very slow starts, with the two clubs losing their respective opening fixtures. Meanwhile, the midfielder will look to prove to his former employers that they should have kept him around.
Jack Wilshere Derby: Everyone Has Something to Prove
After saying a tearful goodbye to Arsène Wenger, the Unai Emery era has begun at the Emirates. However, this new epoch in the history of the club has gotten off to a rather tepid start, with losses to Manchester City and Chelsea in the first two matches.
There have been positives to take away from both matches; the emergence of Matteo Guendouzi, Emery’s high press which gave both opponents difficulty at times and the number of chances created, especially against Chelsea.
However, these are tempered by some real issues; the defence was left exposed several times between the two opening fixtures, the team was wasteful in front of goal and certain players really underperformed.
The first two matches also showed what sort of play fans can expect from this new look Arsenal. With the ball, the team will play out from the back with Alex Iwobi’s goal at Stamford Bridge being a prime example.
Without possession, the team looks to press high up the pitch in an attempt to win the ball close to the opposition net. Emery has had his players man-mark the opponents, with the defence holding a high line.
However, this system has not yet gotten the Arsenal manager his first win. The longer this fact stays true, the more fans will doubt their club made the correct appointment.
The final fixture of August provides another opportunity for the Gunners to get their first points of the campaign, and both the players and manager will have to prove themselves not only to fans, but to their opponents as well.
Victory in the Jack Wilshere derby would be a poetic way to gain the first points of the Emery era.
Injuries: Sead Kolasinac (knee), Ainsley Maitland-Niles (fibula), Carl Jenkinson (ankle), Laurent Koscielny (Achilles)
Manuel Pellegrini is in much the same boat as Unai Emery. Both recently started in their roles, both are learning a new set of players and both have yet to pick up any points this season.
The Hammers suffered a 4-0 defeat at the hands of Liverpool to kick off the league season, followed by a 2-1 home loss to Bournemouth.
The style of play employed by these two managers also bear similarities. Pellegrini has also tried to play a high defensive line, one of the reasons the Reds found so much joy on the opening weekend.
Pellegrini’s attacking philosophy will also sound familiar not only to Unai Emery but also Jürgen Klopp,
“If you have 11 players you can make a good pressing. If not, you can’t cover the complete pitch. You must cover a bit. What I want is to recover the ball as near to the other box as we can and when we have the ball, play.”
Of course, beautiful attacking football will only keep fans so happy if the results are not coming. Just like the Arsenal manager, the Hammers boss still has something to prove at his new club.
Injuries: Lanzini (knee), Carroll (ankle), Reid (knee)
Wilshere joined West Ham on a free after his 17-year association with Arsenal concluded this summer. The move must have been painful for the player, but logic dictates that this was the correct move for his career.
The midfielder became a peripheral member of Wenger’s squad last season, despite being fit for the majority of the campaign. Wilshere was a regular in the Europa League team, but his chances in the league were few and far between.
While the Gunners offered the player a new contract, Wilshere was unhappy with both the lower wages and fewer minutes being touted. In the buildup to the match, the player said,
“It’s down to me to prove a point to Arsenal that they were wrong to get rid of me. First of all I’ve got to concentrate on football and I quite fancy our chances. I obviously know them really well. It’ll be a strange one for me as I was never able to go there and play when I went out on loan as you can’t play against your parent club, but it’s one I’m looking forward to.”
The Jack Wilshere derby is a chance not only for two winless managers to prove their respective bosses right in appointing them but also a shot at revenge for a player who may feel hard done.
Like his current teammate Lucas Perez, who also made the switch across London this summer, it is down to Wilshere to prove not only his former club and fans past and present, but also to himself that he is a class player.
The Jack Wilshere derby will tell everyone quite a lot about both managers, as well as the player.
Arsenal v West Ham
Saturday 25 August 2018
Emirates Stadium, London
Kickoff 3.00 pm GMT
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