Out of the EFL trophy, Laurent Koscielny injured & Jack Wilshere woes continue

Disappointed to see the lads drop out of the EFL Trophy last night.

Whilst I am against academy sides being in the lower league competition, I can see the benefits of getting to see youngsters play against senior players.

Losing 2-1 against Portsmouth is not a bad result. They are flying high in League One this season – having lost just a single league game.

The side Arsenal put was very much a second string youth side, missing the likes of Eddie Nketiah, Emile Smith Rowe, Joe Willock, Julio Pleguezuelo, Ben Sheaf and Xavier Amaechi.

The side contained 7 teenagers, and once you remove Laurent Koscielny – who hobbled off injured, the average age was just 19.

Promotions to the first team of Smith Rowe, Nketiah and Willock meant that a whole host of U18 players were then called up. This then weakened the U18 team, who as a consequence lost 2-1 to Everton.

With 16-year-old Karl Hein on the bench, the squad that travelled down to the South Coast to face Portsmouth had 10 players who were still eligible to be playing in the U18s.

Having seen a dozen youth team graduates make the trip to Ukraine last week, the academy is in a very strong position, with many players performing above their age group.

On Koscielny, it is concerning that he limped off last night.

Following a 45 minute cameo against Derby for the U23s last week, he played 85 minutes last night. It was a step up in his recovery process, with the target being to return to the first team against Qarabag next week in the Europa League dead rubber.

It is not yet clear whether he was taken off as a precaution, or whether he has tweaked something more serious.

At 33-years-old, your body does recover slower and is more susceptible to niggling injuries during recovery. If this turns out to be something more serious, it could be the end of his Arsenal career.

On injuries, it was announced earlier this week that Jack Wilshere has picked up yet another ankle injury just as he returned to first team action following an injury to his other ankle.

Wilshere had missed West Ham‘s last nine Premier League matches due to an ankle injury before making his comeback last Saturday against Newcastle.

After playing only five minutes against Newcastle on the weekend, he had to be rested for the Cardiff game because of an ankle pain.

This season he has appeared for West Ham just 5 times – starting 4 games and playing 339 minutes.

When Arsenal fans announced he was to be let go on a free transfer, a lot of fans responded in anger. Wilshere’s continuation of a poor injury record justifies Arsenal’s decision.

The decision to let Wilshere go is ever more supported in hindsight with the development of Matteo Guendouzi.

Had 26-year-old Wilshere played, he would have taken minutes away from the teenage Frenchman.

19-year-old Guendouzi has started 12 games this season and the extra play time has sped up his development.

Wilshere is the teenage star of yesteryear. Guendouzi is the teenage start of today.

Keenos

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