Wilshere & Szczesny: Out Of Our Hands But Not Out Of Our Minds
Tomorrow’s North London derby defines Arsenal’s Premier League campaign. Anything less than a win might be construed as the moment of surrender for this season. Tottenham need the win to fend off a late Liverpool challenge for fifth place whilst keeping the pressure on Manchester City.
Arsenal, looking for points to keep their pursuit of the other Mancunians, also seek to hold off Chelsea for second. One step closer to the title or oblivion depending on which viewpoint you take. The failure to beat Liverpool is held by the latter, and not insubstantial, band of followers as proof that the season is over. The former are sustained by the inability of Manchester United to breach their City neighbours defence as evidence of fallibility.
The Arsenal players all into the latter camp. Fresh from winning the PFAs Young Player of the Year award at the weekend, Jack Wilshere took his youthful exuberance to the remainder of the season,
We are confident United will drop points. We suffered after we lost to Barca in the Champions League. It was a hard two weeks for us and now the same can happen to United.
They lost at Wembley and then have a big Champions League semi-final coming up. Maybe that can put them off. The other thing is, they still have to come to the Emirates. If we beat them, then maybe we can put them on a bad run.
Is that all? There is a slight flaw in Jack’s plan; games are running out.
Defeating United at The Emirates is required but it still leaves Arsenal short of space to rectify their failings of recent times. Quite simply, it is a race against time. In October, some days are better than others, the team has time to recover. Now they are running to stand still.
Wilshere knows this though according to The Sun,
Of course, we have to start winning games. It’s six cup finals left. That’s what makes the game against Spurs [Tottenham Hotspur] so big. It’s massive.
It is clear that he and Wojciech Szczesny realise this game is more than just about pride, about local rivalry. Their reaction is that which so many demand, delivered with passion, as different as night and day compared to the delivery of some of their colleagues. Youthful exuberance is a possible reason, Wilshere’s magnificent performances sometimes make you forget that he is boy still.
It is this which also explains his comments about playing every game possible, senior and junior internationals for his country and at the Olympics as well. The concern with Wilshere is that he is in danger of burning out. Those who argue that he is young and should be able to cope with such demands miss the point.
His desire to play for his country is apparent but it would mean his summer break this year is the last meaningful rest until 2013. When there will probably be another international tournament for him to be eligible so make it 2015, assuming England qualify for the 2014 World Cup wherever that may take place.
Finally, reading the Master of Pomposity, Henry Winter, you would believe that London Colney is the UK’s answer to the Playboy Mansion. Winter, like his ‘peers’, believe that this is the time to declare open season on the manager.
In Henry’s eyes, Wenger is guilty of pampering his charges, of dancing barefoot through the fields of the training ground whilst his coaching staff do a disappearing act when strong voices are concerned.
Winter is lazy. Having copied copiously the comments of a few to the extent that they will be contacting him for not properly crediting their words, he openly contradicts himself by praising Ferguson for not publicly criticising his players whilst condemning Wenger for the same.
Winter is wrong as well in his assertion that the players do not accept responsibility for the results. Johan Djourou recently observed that there was nowhere else to look but in the mirror if results mean that the Premier League title goes elsewhere.
Criticism of Wenger and the whole piece reflects rather too closely the words of Sam Allardyce yesterday, a man whose neolithic tactics ensure that he remains a concern to the local benefits office such are his poor prospects of employment. It is as if the media would prefer Wenger to self-destruct in front of their eyes. Not for one minute should we believe the opposite.
The manager has flaws, we all do as human beings. He is far from fallible om football as well but as Nigel Winterburn pointed out yesterday, he is currently the best man for the job.