Jack’s Knack’s Back, Arsene’s Headache & More
As Arsène heads off to Switzerland today, others contemplating their navels and his fate following the farcical implementation of a two-match ban for the Champions League. Whilst I still find it hard to understand how Arsenal allowed the farce to occur in the first place – although as it involves Uefa, it is hardly surprising – it is now largely irrelevant as qualification was achieved.
That Uefa were willing to impose a punishment twice as punitive as the original simply beggars belief and is disproportionate considering that the racist abuse from Bulgarian fans will attract no more than a €15k fine. It is good to see that the governing body places an emphasis on getting to the root of the real problems in football.
Any punishment will just about top off Wenger’s weekend. He was no doubt expecting it but Jack Wilshere’s absence of up to three months is a blow, even by the standard of a season that has started with continual blows. The youngster picked up his ankle-knack for England in June so it is not untrue to say that the curse of international week strikes again. Merely stretching it somewhat.
Of course his absence has led to criticism of the manager and medical staff. The latter are everyone’s favourite punchbag when it comes to injuries, every internet medical expert or their mate believing that they know the problems and the solutions far better than the professionals. Except they do not otherwise they would have been employed by Arsenal Football Club for their expertise in the area.
And they never get the praise when players return to first team fitness because invariably, it is believed that this is despite the medical teams efforts.
Wenger admits that Wilshere playing 50 games last season put stress on the player’s body. It is a fair comment and one that leads to criticism of the manager, something he too must be used to. In a sense it is hard for him to escape this. He, after all, is responsible for the number of games played by individuals.
That he was let down by the performances of more experienced players and injuries to others merely highlights the lack of depth in last year’s midfield. Wenger has, you hope, put this right although there are some harsh questions to be answered over the course of the coming nine months.
Not least of which is whether the time has come for the club to cuts its losses and run as far as Abou Diaby is concerned. I have a lot of time for the player despite his increasingly annoying inconsistency. Who knows maybe he felt intimidated by the presence of others in the squad and his performances suffered accordingly?
But the Frenchman continually suffers with injuries, all of which have their roots in Dan Smith’s appalling challenge at Sunderland all those years ago. Even so, Arsenal need someone they can rely on and last season was a setback as his availability had been steadily improving. Can the club take a continued risk if this season sees another drop in the number of appearances he makes?
On which cheery note…no, wait I keep forgetting that there is another England international in the Arsenal squad. Established bestselling author, Theo Walcott, has taken time out from his hectic writing schedule to deflate those looking to stir the Arsenal pot with a lack of confidence.
Walcott floridly described in another blockbusting paperback, TJ And The Winger, how confidence has been boosted by the activity in the death throes of the transfer window.
Walcott span, his eyes meeting his interrogator. “No, I won’t divulge anything to you. You’ll have to kill me first”, he rasped. “Kill you, Mr Walcott? Oh no, we’ll just put Aaron Lennon into the team instead. Mental cruelty is so much more fun”, his Italian host sneered.
Or he might just have said,
I’m looking forward to seeing them on Wednesday. When you get new faces in, it tends to get everyone bubbling. I think we all have to lift our spirits, we can’t dwell on that United result. Hopefully, those new signings will do the job.
Indeed. Swansea are the right sort of team for Arsenal to face, concerned with playing a passing game rather than six studs onto the shin as some others who deserve to be relegated might do.
That match is less than a week away. It feels a bit 1970s Star Wars-ish (you know the proper ones, not the contractually obliged ones of the last decade) – a new hope, etc.