Tag Archives: Jack Wilshere

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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Out with the old, in with the new

March 2006, Arsenal v Juventus in the Champions League. ‘The King is Dead! Long Live the King!’ was the first line of the match report as an 18-year Cesc Fabregas dominated a 29-year old Patrick Vieira in the middle of the park.

This Champions League tussle had gone worse than Vieira could ever have anticipated. Humiliated by his old side, booed by his old fans, the Juventus player’s performance had gone some way to vindicating Arsene Wenger’s decision last summer to say a sad farewell.

You know you’ve been slow to react when Robert Pires, not exactly known for his tackling, pinches the ball from behind with a neat sliding challenge. That ignomy befell Vieira on the halfway line just before half-time and if that made him feel bad what happened next would only have made things much worse. The resulting move was both simple and devastating. Pires to Thierry Henry, Henry to Fabregas.

The 18 year-old slipped the ball confidently past the stranded Gianluigi Buffon before ecstatically wheeling away to salute the West Stand. Over on the other side of the pitch Vieira stood motionless.

The match not only justified Wenger’s decision to finally allow Vieira to leave after about 5 years of flirting with Real Madrid – the Frenchman was a shadow of his former self; but also vindicated his decision to replace him with a teenage Spaniard.

Not content with just a goal that night, Cesc also added an assist as he dominated the midfield.

Fabregas, by this stage, was totally bossing the match, linking up constantly with Henry in the attacking third. It was beautiful to watch: two world-class talents in riveting form.

The promise soon turned into something solid, something wonderfully inventive when Fabregas embarked on yet another burst into the box. Once Alexander Hleb had spotted the run, the result was almost a foregone conclusion. Drawing Buffon and two grasping defenders, the composed teenager slipped the ball sideways to the waiting Henry. Goal number two and a very useful cushion to take to Turin.

Now Jack Wilshere was certainly no Patrick Vieira. Not even close, and Matteo Guendouzi is some way off 18-year old Cesc Fabregas – but then has any teenage central midfielder ever done what he has done? but the comparison is clear and obvious.

In the summer, 26-year old Wilshere decided to call time on his Arsenal career as Arsenal failed to meet his terms. The Englishman had been beset with injuries for years, and like with Vieira, many felt it was time for him to leave.

Joining the club was 18-year old Guendouzi from Lorient in the French second division. Not really seen as a replacement for Wilshere, a few good performances in pre-season pushed him up the pecking order to the point where he started against both Manchester City and Chelsea – games Wilshere would have been in the starting XI for.

Guendouzi has quickly become a fans favourite and against West Ham will face the old Prince of Highbury, Wilshere.

Wilshere has already spoken about how he has a point to prove that Arsenal were wrong to get rid of him. Interesting use of language there that the Englishman sees him leaving on a free transfer as Arsenal’s decision, not his.

Young Guendouzi, meanwhile, will be motivated to show that Arsenal were correct in letting Wilshere leave, and looking at younger, fitter players.

Since he joined the club, Arsenal have released Josh Dasilva to Brentford.

Dasilva was rated highly by many of those that had seen him, but he is 6 months older than Guendouzi, who is clearly ahead of him in the pecking order.

Like with Fabregas, it is easy to forget that Guendouzi is barely an adult. He only turned 18-years old in April this year.

Against West Ham, and against Wilshere, he will have a chance to have his Fabregas moment. To show that he is better than the man he replaced.

Like Vieira defined the beginning of the Arsene Wenger era, Guendouzi  could be the man to kick start the Unai Emery years.

Keenos

Goodbye Jack Wilshere

We wake up this morning with Arsenal being a very different place from yesterday.

For the first time in 17 years, we have an Arsenal without Jack Wilshere.

Having joined the academy in 2001 at the age of 9, he made his debut 10 years ago – becoming Arsenal’s youngest ever league debutant at just 16 years and 256 days.

If back then you would have said that he would have played just 125 league games for Arsenal; I would have laughed.

By now, he really should have been captain. The heart beat of the team. Both The Arsenal and England.

Instead he had found himself at home rather than in Russia, and no longer an Arsenal player.

I think it is the snub by England that has led him to leave Arsenal.

Having missed Euro 2012 through injury, played just 2 games at the 2014 World Cup, and missed Euro 2016 through injury once again, he had got himself fit and ready to go to Russia. Gareth Southgate decided a lack of first team football and his injury record meant he missed the flight.

That means Wilshere has started just 1 game – a dead rubber against Costa Rica – in international tournament football. He made his debut at just 18.

Wilshere has not left Arsenal due to money. He has not even done it to win trophies. He has left Arsenal in attempt to make something of his career before it is over.

At 26, he already has more money than he could dream of. He and his new wife and 3 children are already set up for life.

For Wilshere, he wants recognition. He wants to play regularly. To perform for club and perhaps now more importantly, country.

He wants first team football. The problem is, at Arsenal, we could not guarantee that. And nor should we. I imagine this is what Unai Emery told him.

Wilshere knew full well he would not get first team football, week in week out at Arsenal. He also knows he will not achieve this at the 5 sides above him. That means he will have to look down.

The likes of West Ham, Crystal Palace, Wolves and Southampton have already been linked. It might be harsh, but this is probably his level to be playing week in week out. There is even speculation over a move to Turkey, with novibet.co.uk installing Fenerbache as 1/5 favourites for his signature.

Southgate has shown by selecting the likes of Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Harry Maguire and Jake Livermore that it is important to be playing and performing in the Premier League, regardless of who you play for.

The easy option would have been for him to stay at Arsenal, sign a new deal, remain in his comfort zone. 20-30 games a season. But he still has a burning desire to perform, to play week in week out, to get to the top.

I imagine in his mind he is focusing on the next two years. Euro 2020.

He leaves Arsenal having given the fans many memories- most notably a performance against Barcelona and that goal against Norwich.

But these were from 2011 & 2013. The reality is there have not been enough similar performances since that goal against Norwich.

I hope he gets what he wants, what he deserves. And in 2020 I hope I will be cheering him on in and England shirt.

Jack Wilshere, you are proper Arsenal.

Keenos