Belfast Telegraph

Back Jack – Wilshere’s best Arsenal moments as he prepares to face Gunners for first time

The midfielder left Arsenal for West Ham in the summer and faces his former club in the Premier League this weekend.

Jack Wilshere will run out at the Emirates Stadium as an opposing player for the first time on Saturday as he returns to face Arsenal with new club West Ham.

While the England international was a Hammers fan in his youth, he spent 17 years at Arsenal having joined their academy at the age of nine.

He now goes back to his former club admitting he has a point to prove after being told by new Gunners head coach Unai Emery he would not be a key player moving forward.

Here, Press Association Sport looks at the moments Wilshere will be remembered for during his time at Arsenal.

Young Gunner

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Jack Wilshere, left, celebrates lifting the Youth Cup with Arsenal after starring in the final. (Martin Rickett/PA)

Wilshere’s medal haul at Arsenal consists of two FA Cup successes, both of which saw him come off the bench as a late substitute.

But it was in his younger days, as a 17-year-old flitting between the first-team squad and youth team star, where he truly showed his promise.

Arsenal would lift the FA Youth Cup in 2009 with a 6-2 aggregate win over Liverpool – the first-leg at the Emirates Stadium saw Wilshere steal the show, tucking home a penalty and laying on two assists as he rose head and shoulders above those at a similar point in their progression.

Those in attendance that evening would have expected the midfielder to go on and dominate big games for the Gunners for years to come – but there would only be glimpses of his talent in the future.

Pep Talk

Wilshere is a top, top player, and has been a big, big surprise. He had a really good performance. He can be a great player for Arsenal and England. Pep Guardiola

You have to go some way to impress Pep Guardiola – but the then-Barcelona coach was suitably enamoured by Wilshere’s display in a 2-1 win over his side that he singled the 19-year-old out for special praise.

This Champions League group clash in north London back in 2010/11 was one of those evenings Wilshere always promised to deliver from those Youth Cup days.

He completely dominated the game, up against a midfield of Xavi, Sergio Busquets and Andreas Iniesta.

“Wilshere is a top player, and has been a big, big surprise. He had a really good performance. He can be a great player for Arsenal and England,” Guardiola said after the game.

Jack’s the Lad

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Wilshere was named as PFA Young Player of the Year in 2011. (PA)

The performance against Barcelona was one of a string of impressive outings during Wilshere’s breakthrough season at Arsenal.

Given licence to express himself by Arsene Wenger, the precocious talent was clear for all to see.

So much so that Wilshere was selected by his peers as the PFA Young Player of the Year for the 2010/11 season – joining a long-list of promising talent to collect the award.

Goal Models

October, 2013 and Wilshere’s first-ever Premier League goal at the Emirates Stadium against Norwich not only put Arsenal top of the table but would go on to rightly be named as goal of the season.

A neat one-two with Santi Cazorla before an exchange of flicks with Olivier Giroud set Wilshere clean-through on John Ruddy’s goal, and his first-time finish marked the end of a superb passage of play.

Wilshere would retain the BBC’s goal of the season accolade for a fantastic volley against West Brom, but it was his effort in the 4-1 win over the Canaries that still lives in the memory of every Arsenal fan.

Sing When You’re Winning

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Wilshere caused something of a storm by singing songs about Tottenham during Arsenal’s FA Cup celebrations. (Scott Heavey/PA)

Sometimes courting controversy off the field, Wilshere certainly endeared himself to Arsenal supporters after taking over the microphone during the celebrations following the 2015 FA Cup final win over Aston Villa.

He led the jubilant fans in a number of chants aimed at local rivals Tottenham – landing himself in a little hot water with the Football Association.

But his antics definitely cemented his place as a favourite in the hearts of many on the red side of north London.

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