Arsenal strolled into the knockout stages of the Europa League on Thursday night with an emphatic 6-0 win over BATE Borisov, despite Arsene Wenger resting the majority of his big guns ahead of the upcoming domestic action at the weekend.
The result was all the more impressive when you consider the calibre of the players not selected, while the likes of Theo Walcott and Mathieu Debuchy used the opportunity to remind the Gunners fans of their international calibre.
While there were plenty of positives for Arsenal in the big victory, arguably the most notable was the performance of Jack Wilshere.
There was a time when the English midfielder would have been one of the big guns rested for such an occasion and as such his selection reiterates just how far this boy wonder has fallen.
Haven come through the Arsenal youth academy and given his chance in the first team at a young age, Wilshere’s potential and ability was immediately there for all to see.
Many predicted that the Stevenage-born starlet would go on to scale to the pinnacle of world football – but it just has not worked out that way.
Now 25, Wilshere has shown for club and country that when fully fit and focussed, he can be a devastating central midfielder with a unique set of skills.
However, the issue has been that these periods have been fleeting, with serious injuries threatening to end the Englishman’s career over the last few years.
Having returned to availability after a prolonged period on the sidelines, Wilshere appeared to have lost the star quality that made him such a devastating asset in his younger years.
A loan stint at Bournemouth last season was the result of the progression of others, with Aaron Ramsey in particular looking like the player that the Arsenal fans hoped their home-grown hero would become.
The spell at the Vitality Stadium must be deemed a failure given the midfielder’s inability to string together consistent performances or build any momentum – and now Wilshere stands at a crossroads.
With his Arsenal contract expiring this summer, both the player and the club have decisions to make over what they want from the next three to four years.
If Wilshere can show the kind of performance he displayed against BATE on a more-frequent basis, there will be calls for the 25-year-old to be given more of an opportunity in the Gunners starting XI in the Premier League.
The player will be desperate now that he is fit to play more regularly – especially in a World Cup year – and as such he will need to make decision in the short term whether he stays at Arsenal or goes out on loan again in January.
In the longer term, as displayed against BATE, Wilshere has all the attributes to still become a Gunners cult figure and has time on his side – now all he needs is to stay fit and that bit of luck that has eluded him for the majority of his career to date.