Jack Wilshere has led Arsenal to the FA Youth Cup final as he makes an impressive start in his new role as the club’s under-18 coach.
Wilshere returned to the Emirates last summer to join the club’s coaching staff, after his playing career ended with Aarhus in Denmark.
And the 31-year-old’s exploits have captured the imagination at the Emirates, feeding into the feelgood factor surrounding Arsenal this season.
We’ve identified six reasons why the former Arsenal and England midfielder is smashing it this year.
“I love it, honestly,” he told The Telegraph of this next step in his career. “It has given me back the real, deep love for football. I didn’t know I had lost it, to be honest. It might be because it is Arsenal. I feel like people here genuinely care about me, and everyone wants to be around people who care for them.
“The coaching side, when I first came back, that was my big thing. I loved it. On the grass, trying to beat teams, trying to work out a way to play against teams, trying to develop individuals.
“Obviously it was a different world I was entering. The corporate world, all the emails. But now I am in a place where I have worked that out. I have structured my day better. And the coaching stuff, I absolutely love it.”
Reading the room
“I had a moment against Watford [in the fifth round of the Youth Cup],” he told The Telegraph. “We were 2-0 down at half-time and I was outside the dressing room. I was thinking: ‘I am going to go after them, I need to get into them.’
“[But] I walked in there and I could just see they were down. They were dead. Finished. Gone.
“I didn’t say anything tactical. I just said: ‘Lads, look around this room. Look at the individuals in this room. It can happen, we can be 2-0 down, but we are one goal away from winning this comfortably.’ And then I saw them lift. My assistant said a few words and it was a completely different team.”
Arsenal won 4-2. Job done.
“I think of the bad experiences I have had with coaches, and probably the biggest thing is that they weren’t able to connect with the players,” he said in April 2023.
“If I have not got a connection with one individual, I really feel that. And that really bothers me. That has happened a few times this season and then you need your staff to take over with that player and try to help him.”
“I love the way the first team plays,” Wilshere explained to The Telegraph.
“But if I want to be a first-team coach one day, and I want to bring this style to a team, I can only really go to Barcelona, City or Bayern. The top teams. I’m not naive enough to say ‘Wherever I go, this is the way I am going to play’. You have to adapt and see what you have got.”
Cozier-Duberry has been catching the eye for Arsenal’s youth teams this season with his immense creativity and enviable output.
The 17-year-old has five goals and four assists in 19 games for the club’s under-21s and five goals and two assists in five matches for Wilshere’s under-18s.
“Amario is very exciting and Mikel likes him,” he told The Athletic. “He reminds me of Bukayo Saka, plays in the same position as him, needs to get better with his decision-making like Bukayo did, but he’s definitely exciting.
“In some moments he’s unplayable. You give him the ball and he can make things happen. You can set up a team and have a game plan, but when you’ve got individuals like that you’ve got a chance.”
Jack Wilshere on 17 year old Amario Cozier-Duberry:
🗣️ “Amario is very exciting, Mikel likes him. He reminds me of Bukayo Saka. He plays in the same position as him, sometimes he’s unplayable”
Can see the similarities in their play style. Hale End keeps producing 👏🏽 pic.twitter.com/UqTX0AuO2n
— Rising Ballers (@RisingBallers_) April 4, 2023
FA Youth Cup final
After beating Watford in the aforementioned Fifth Round comeback, Arsenal have seen off Cambridge United and Manchester City to book their place in this season’s FA Youth Cup final.
Wilshere’s Gunners will be hot favourites against either West Ham or Southampton at the Emirates on April 29. It’ll be a massive vindication of Wilshere’s work to date if Arsenal did so.