Pitchside

Proof that Scholes was right about Wilshere, who can prove worth in FA Cup final

Pitchside

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Arsene Wenger has the rare problem of facing a selection dilemma ahead of this weekend's FA Cup final against Hull City, with the vast majority of his squad being fit and available for Wembley.

Only Theo Walcott is currently sidelined from Wenger's current first team, with even the forever-injured Abou Diaby fit and ready for action, leaving the Gunners boss with a headache over who he selects to try and bring a first piece of silverware to the club for nine years.

One of those players now back in contention for Saturday's showpiece event is Jack Wilshere, with the midfielder returning from the broken foot suffered in England's friendly with Denmark at the beginning of March by coming off the bench on the final day of the season against Norwich.

Wilshere has been criticised for a lack of development shown in his game over the past few seasons, namely by former Manchester United midfielder Paul Scholes. Making his injury-hit campaign all the more frustrating.

With Mesut Ozil and Santi Cazorla all but guaranteed a starting spot and Wenger having acknowledged the need for at least one holding midfielder in the side, there are just two slots open in the Arsenal midfield. Aaron Ramsey, Tomas Rosicky, Lukas Podolski and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are all battling with Wilshere for one of those two spots.

Wilshere is something of the poster boy for the Gunners having progressed through the youth ranks at the Emirates and would hope to have a chance of landing his first trophy as a senior player, but with competition fierce in the Arsenal midfield, there are no guarantees that a return to fitness automatically catapults him to the top of the queue.

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In his 24 appearances for Arsenal in the Premier League, Wilshere directly contributed to just six of Arsenal's 68 goals this season, scoring three and assisting the same amount, despite having often been played in a more advanced role for the Gunners.

This has brought him just 0.16 assists for every 90 minutes he has played for Arsenal, though that still outstrips potential rivals for a place, Tomas Rosicky and Lukas Podolski, with the former achieving just one assist all season, at a rate of 0.05 per 90.

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One could argue that this is not Rosicky's fault as his chance creation rate of 1.84 per 90 minutes of action is better than any of his challengers for a Wembley start, though this is closely followed by Wilshere, who has been creating at a rate of 1.68 chances per 90.

The Stevenage-born midfielder has developed a more all-round game this season as well, with only Ramsey boasting more than Wilshere's 1.41 tackles per 90 minutes, while only Oxlade-Chamberlain can claim to beat his man on a more regular basis, with Wilshere completing an average of 2.36 take-ons every 90 minutes.

It's clear that Wilshere has probably stunted a bit in his development and has not progressed as quickly as fans of Arsenal and England would perhaps have hoped for, with injuries hampering his career thus far.

But with Hull preparing a battling line up in the centre of the park, they will need the tenacity of Wilshere if he is fully fit, as that will prove a key attribute in Arsenal's bid to land that oh so elusive trophy.

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Alongside Ramsey, the Gunners will need that tough-tackling nature to overcome a defiant Tigers side, while the pair have plenty about them going forward to break down Hull with their instinctive and incisive creativity.

While there is plenty to be said about any of the potential candidates for a starting berth on Saturday, Wilshere's tenacity combined with his on-ball skills will prove a vital cog in this contest and should he be fit enough to start, Wenger would be wise to include him from the beginning in order to triumph.

Roy Hodgson won't mind seeing one of his main charges get a proper run out either.

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