Football News

Jack Wilshere reveals the Spurs midfielder he “always hated” playing against

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 11:32, 21 April 2020

Jack Wilshere has declared he “always hated” facing Mousa Dembele as he labels the former Tottenham midfielder the toughest Premier League opponent he has come up against. 

The pair locked horns on numerous occasions over the years, including some heated North London derbies, but the ex-Spurs and Fulham midfielder has since left English football for Guangzhou R&F in the Chinese Super League.

Dembele versus Wilshere: Five things to know…

  • Dembele and Wilshere faced each other on four separate occasions in North London derbies.
  • During those matches Arsenal and Spurs won two matches apiece.
  • In one particular game (Arsenal 2-0 Spurs, January 2014), tempers flared and Dembele appeared to try and headbutt Wilshere.
  • The Belgian has since left Spurs and his successor, Tanguy Ndombele, is yet to fill his combative shoes.
  • Following years of intense on-field battles, Wilshere has now branded an “unreal” Dembele his toughest ever opponent.

A notable flashpoint between the pair came in January 2014 when Dembele appeared to try and headbutt Wilshere as Arsenal dumped Tottenham out of the FA Cup.

It would prove to be the last time Wilshere was on the winning side against Dembele, with the Belgian getting his name on the scoresheet when Spurs ran out 4-0 winners against Bournemouth — where Wilshere enjoyed a loan spell — in April 2017.

And when asked which player in England’s top division he found the most challenging to face, the 34-time England international had no doubts in his mind.

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“I always hated playing against Dembele from Tottenham,” he said during an Instagram Q&A.

“Obviously it was a derby and he was always up for the game and made it difficult.”

Despite forming a formidable reputation for his industrious and combative nature, Wilshere was also quick to highlight just how good Dembele was with the ball at his feet.

He added: “He was strong, you couldn’t get the ball off him and his dribbling was unreal.”