When A Teenage Jack Wilshere Dropped A Man Of The Match Display Against Barcelona
Jack Wilshere's performance as a 19-year-old against a sensational Barcelona side led to Pep Guardiola calling him "a top player".
Wilshere produced an outstanding Man of the Match performance as Arsenal won 2-1 at the Emirates in the Champions League round of 16 first leg back in 2011.
Robin van Persie and Andrei Arshavin stuck late on after David Villa opened the scoring in the first half but it was Wilshere who ran the show.
Sitting in the middle of the park alongside Alex Song, he broke up play superbly and regularly drove with the ball and popped it off to his teammates.
Wilshere was technically exceptional and having the confidence to play against a team who went onto win the treble that year and are always in the conversation as the greatest side in recent history, was admirable.
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Remarkably, Wilshere wasn't of the opinion that he had a good game to begin with him and it was only afterwards that he realised how impressive his showing was.
"To be honest, I didn't even think I was [playing that well]," the midfielder told Arsenal's In Lockdown podcast back in May.
"I thought I was doing alright. When we got to half-time, I had done a few good things in the first half but I felt like they had dominated.
"They had a way of making you feel like you were running around in circles for no reason. They used to make these little passes in midfield and you didn't know whether to press or to hold back and wait for them.
"It wasn't until after the game actually [that I realised how well I'd played]. It was Paul Akers, the kit man, who was like, 'You just had Xavi and Iniesta in your pocket'. I said, 'no chance' and he was like, 'I'm telling you'. Then I got man of the match.
Unfortunately the masterclass will always beg the question, "What if?" as persistent injuries meant he never realised his true potentials despite showing flashes here and there.
Still, that performance will still live long in the memory - even for Barca legend Xavi.
"He played a fantastic game against us [in 2011]. Let's not forget he was just 20 or 21 years old. It's just a shame he got injured so many times over the past two years," the Spaniard told Sport.
Wilshere's contract with West Ham was terminated by mutual consent in October and the 29-year-old is being heavily linked with a return to Bournemouth, where he was on loan at in 2016/17.
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