Tag Archives: She Wore Yellow Ribbon

Defending Wilshere; Attacking Ramsey

So I wrote a blog on Wednesday after, scheduled for 8:30am Thursday morning. The jist was simple. It has all gone quiet with Jack Wilshere. 20 minutes before the blog was due to go live, news started to break over some comments made by Wilshere on England duty.

I was proper mugged off.

Before getting into things fully, I feel I need to address something about what Wilshere actually said:

He gave me the opportunity [to leave] with three or four weeks left in the transfer window,” Wilshere said. “He said, ‘I am going to be honest with you and at the moment we are not going to be offering you a contract, so if you can get a contract somewhere else, you can go’.

The situation Wilshere was talking about was not the present, but the past. He was talking about what happened in the summer. And this has then just exploded onto Twitter and other social media as if it was happening today.

It was not exactly breaking news that Arsenal had told Jack that he could leave in the summer. It was fairly well know, a badly kept secret. Arsenal had told him he could leave, a few offers came in that were accepted, but the ball as always in his court. He decided to turn down a move, stayed at Arsenal and fought for his place.

He is talking about it now, but it is the situation last summer he is talking about. Whilst he is yet to sign a new deal, I believe Arsenal’s position has changed. The club, and Arsene Wenger, no longer wish him to leave any time soon.

As with everything, it has created a lot of fuss, a lot of fuss about nothing.

But what it has done is expose something that I have felt for some years.

When it comes to Jack Wilshere, a lot of fans think with their heart rather than their head. They see Wilshere (wrongly) as one of them, one of the fans, a local lad and the club should do everything they can to keep him.

The reality is somewhat different.

Wilshere has struggled for fitness throughout his Arsenal career. He is now 26 and has played a little over 120 Premier League games for Arsenal. Whilst his injury record has cleared up this season, you still wince every time he go’s down.

He is a good player, delightful on the ball, that is clear. But you could also question if he is good enough? If we are dreaming about the player he could have become when he broke through at 17, rather than the player he has become at 26.

Since his return to the Arsenal first team, he has put in some very good performances. But he has also put in some poor ones.

He does not escape criticism from the poor team performances against Bournemouth, Ostersunds FK, Manchester City and Brighton. In those games, he was not a shining light in a poor team, he was as culpable as Mesut Ozil, as Alex Iwobi, as Petr Cech in the defeats.

Wilshere has earnt a new contract, that is not an argument to be had. The argument is on whose terms does he deserve it.

He has been at Arsenal for a long time. Up until last summer, Arsenal had stuck with him, rehabilitated him. He failed to play a league game in 2011/12. Played just 3 in 2015/16. And Arsenal stuck with him.

We want to offer him a deal where his basic is lower, but appearances fees take him above and beyond what he is on now. A fair deal with his injury record. He seems to be holding out for at least parity in basic on what he is on now, some rumours say he is expecting an increase.

A debate can be had either way on what should happen, depending on if you are thinking with your head or heart. And it is the heart that I am about to discuss.

Wilshere get’s an easy ride with the fans. He is English, been at the club since he was 9, “loves” the club and his passionate. It is easy as an Arsenal fan to love Wilshere.

So let’s take Jack Wilshere out of the scenario.

Imagine it is another player currently in contract dispute with the club. He has had an injury wrecked Arsenal career, put in some great performances, as well as some poor ones. What should we do?

Say that person is Aaron Ramsey.

Ramsey is injured once again. He seems to pick up one muscle injury a season ruling him out for about 10 games. He is occasionally brilliant, occasionally poor, often somewhere in between.

The Welshman’s contract runs out in 2019. And the differing views between Ramsey and Wilshere is stark.

Whilst many defend Wilshere, say the club should pay him what he wants, they also abuse Ramsey, say the club should get rid, that he is no good. They say Ramsey is greedy for being in his current contract situation.

But when you look at both Wilshere and Ramsey’s career, it is Ramsey who has done more for Arsenal than Wilshere. So the criticism of one (Ramsey) and support for another (Wilshere) is just a little odd.

Premier League Minutes (last 4 years)

Aaron Ramsey: 7353 minutes
Jack Wilshere: 3840 minutes

Wilsheres minutes include the 27 games he played for Bournemouth. For Arsenal he has played less than 2000 minutes of Premier League football in 4 years. Ramsey might have his injury issues, but Wilshere’s are clearly worse.

Premier League Goals

Aaron Ramsey: 35 goals
Jack Wilshere: 7 goals

There is no argument, Ramsey is the bigger goal threat. He also has double the assists. He is a threat, Wilshere is not.

Of course, Wilshere’s game is not just about goals (I am not going to start talking about second assists), but everything you look at – distance covered, tackles, interceptions – Ramsey is superior.

It baffles me why people defend the inferior player. The only reasoning is that they are thinking with their heart, not their head.

Ramsey should be an Arsenal hero, borderline legend status.

Before you spit your tea out, hear me out.

Aaron Ramsey scored the FA Cup winning goal in 2014. He repeated the feat in 2017. He has played every minute of all 3 FA Cup Finals. 300+ minutes of FA Cup Final football. In comparison, Wilshere has played 27 minutes over the two finals he was at the club for.

Ramsey was rumoured to be fed up with the way fans treat him in comparison to Wilshere. Whilst I think it is bollocks, you can kind of see why.

It will always baffle me how a fan can sit and defend Wilshere one minute, then the next go on the attack against Ramsey.

Finally on Wilshere, if he does leave Arsenal ,where will he actually end up?

What club will want to spend £120k a week on an injury prone Central Midfielder?

We used to mock Darren Anderton in the 1990s for being sicknote. He averaged 25 league games a season for Spurs. Wilshere is averaging 18 league games a season for Arsenal since2010. What top club will want invest a player who is only available 50% of the time? Maybe Liverpool, but they are stupid.

You then look outside the top 6. Leicester City, Everton. Those sort of clubs. Wilshere will fit right in with them. It is probably his level at the minute. Top half / mid table sides. That is where Arsenal are the minute, it is probably where Wilshire belongs.

But at £120k+ a week, sides will want to be a team around him with Wilshere as the centre piece, the lynch pin. But with his injury record, will they be willing to invest that sort of money into someone so injury prone? Who knows.

The fact that last year Sampdoria were the nearest to his signing shows the level he is at. Rumours of Juventus and AC Milan, I just can not see happening.

Clubs will buy Wilshere using their head, not their heart. And the head will show that he is an inconsistent injury prone player. I imagine they would much rather sign Aaron Ramsey over him.

For Arsenal to win the league, we need to buy better than Jack Wilshere.

The argument of “it will cost more to replace him” is pointless when we need to buy better than him even if he stays. We need to spend big on a central midfielder this summer. Wilshere staying does not change that.

If Wilshere does go, it will be a sad day. I will look back at the player he was in 2010 and think what a talent has been wasted.

8 years of bad tackles and injuries. He has never reached the potential he showed and, at 26, will probably never reach that potential.

I want Wilshere to stay, but if his Arsenal journey is over, so be it. We move on. The heart might cry but the head will say his time is up.



Arsenal look to sell top scorer in January

A decision has been made by Arsenal to sell Theo Walcott in January.

With 107 goals, Walcott is the top Arsenal scorer goal scorer in the current squad. Having joined the club back in January 2006, he is also the clubs longest serving player.

I know I am in the minority, but for years I have been a fan of Theo Walcott.

Injuries aside, he is one of the most underrated players, not only at Arsenal, but in the Premier League.

His issue is that he is not a pretty player. There are no step overs, he does not make the highlights reel, he is a very basic player who relies on pace and finishing.

Over the years, I have seen people rate the likes of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Andros Townsend and Yannick Bolasie above Theo Walcott. These players are a lot better on the eye then Walcott, and someone like Bolasie shows more tricks in a single game than Walcott does in an entire season.

But then a trick, a bit of skill, is only worthwhile if it leads to a goal – whether it be a goal for the individual, or contributes to a team mate at the end. A bit of skill that leads to nothing is pointless. It is showing off. It is something for the highlight reel.

Take Bolasie. He shows incredible skill, step-overs, fakes, dummies, yet he has just 10 Premier League goals to his name in over 100 appearances. That is less than 1 goal in 10 games. What is the point of having that much ability if it leads to nothing?

Sadly, in the Banter Boys era of football, where fans get excited over a GIF of a player nut mugging an opponent, someone like Bolasie becomes vastly overatted, to the point sides are willing to spend £30million+ on a player who does not score, does not create, yet looks good on YouTube.

Theo Walcott, meanwhile, is not a player for YouTube, not a player for FIFA. He is much derided, called useless by many, and is currently struggling to make the England squad.

Walcott averaged 1 goal in 4 in the league, 1 in 3.5 in all competitions. These are statistics that very few wingers in the Premier League have battered in the last 10 years. Walcott has a better goals to games ratio than Arsenal legend Freddie Ljungberg.

Last year, Walcott scored 19 goals in 37 games. That was more than the likes of Raheem sterling, Marcus Rashford, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Danny Welbeck and Jesse Lingard. Yet these players are often put above Walcott as being better, being more influential adimitedly Sterling has been awesome this season.

The problem for Walcott this season is he has struggled to break into the first team, and has struggled to make an impact when playing for the second string in Europe and the League Cup.

With Arsenal playing 1 up top, and a narrow two behind him, Walcott does not have the attributes to play in any of the current 3 attacking positions.

Despite early protests that he was a striker, Theo Walcott is not an out and out striker. Whilst he can be dangerous through the middle, he does not have the hold up play to be up top on his own.

The current holders of the two behind a single striker are Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil. Walcott is no where near as good as these players. And in that position, he is also behind the likes of Alex Iwobi, Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere.

Walcott does not have the technique, close control or passing ability to perform in the tight areas that Ozil and Sanchez thrive in.

He is at his best with a bit of space to run in to, off the shoulder of the last man. That means playing out wide, drifting in the space between the opponent full back and centre back. The current 3421 that Arsenal are playing does not allow for a player to site out wide, off the shoulder of the last man.

Against Norwich, playing behind Olivier Giroud, Walcott was awful. He only looked a threat when he drifted outside and found some space – leading to a few marginal offside calls.

But in the 3421 formation, you can not afford one of the 2 behind the striker to want to spend 90% of his time advanced, on the last line. You need them to get involved in the build up play. To drop deep and create. This is not using Walcott to the best of his ability.

A bit like shoehorning midfielders into the wrong position, playing Walcott in the position he did against Norwich felt like a case of having to give Walcott game time rather than playing your best available players in their best position. The likes of Joe Willock or Reiss Nelson would have done a much better job in behind Giroud. Or push Jack Wilshere alongside Alex Iwobi in that position.

Playing behind a striker is just no Walcott’s game.

None of this means Walcott is a bad player. 19 goals last seasons shows he is a good player. All this shows it Walcott has struggled to find a place in the current team, with 3421 set to be a long term formation, Walcott has become surplus to requirements.

Rumours are already doing the rounds that Everton have enquired for the Englishman.

With Arsenal actively looking to sell him Walcott, the likelihood is every Premier League side from Burnley in 7th, down, would be interested in him. A proven Premier League player, he would make an instant impact and be worth 10 goals in the 2nd half of the season. That would be enough to push a team from relegation threatened to the safety of mid table.

There will be no shortage of interested parties in Theo Walcott.



Which Premier League sides lack the cojones?

Last weekend, a big fuss was made over Arsenal losing to Watford. Convicted thug, Troy Deeney, went straight to the nearest television studio, in his best court suit, to declare that Arsenal simply did not have the cojones.

7 days on, and Watford let go a 1 goal lead to lose 4-2 to Watford. Deeney, who does not have the fitness to play 90 minutes, was taken off with 10 minutes to go and the scores at 2-2.

Did Deeney stand there in the changing room, lamenting his team mates, telling them how they had let themselves down, their family down, the bumblebee mascot down, and how they did not have the cojones? Probably not. He probably drove straight to Birmingham for a few beers with his mates before stamping on the head of a defenceless student.

Troy found out how quickly the earth spins round. It is easy boasting about how you smash an opponent as soon as you come on the field when you win, but how about all them times you lose Troy?

The weekend showed just how tough the Premier League is. Manchester City apart, every other top team as showed a lack of cojones at some point.

On Saturday, Manchester United lost against the then favourites-to-be-relegated Huddersfield. The Huddersfield players showed a lot more class than Troy Deeney, as none went on TV abusing their opponents. It was Manchester United’s first defeat of the season. But an unexpected one.

There was also tears in Liverpool as the Scourers lost away to Spurs.

It was not just losing, but it was the manor of the defeat. 4-1.

Liverpool remind me of Arsenal, when they lose against a top side, they lose heavily, 4 against Spurs, 5 against Manchester City.

They have also dropped points against Watford, Newcastle and Burnley, and sit 9th in the league. Jurgen Klopp’s crown has slipped with a drifting win percentage. Now under 50% with a worse record than the likes of Brendan Rodgers.

No mention of their players lacking the cojones though.

Then we have Chelsea. The current Champions.

They showed some cojones on Saturday to come back from 2-1 down to beat Watford. But then the weekend before they played Crystal Palace, with 0 goals and 0 points this season. They lost 2-1. Having already lost at home to Manchester City, and that opening day defeat to Burnley, they sit with an identical record to Arsenal.

Do their players lack the cojones? Or does it just show that bar Manchester City, every other side is a little bit average.

We then come to Arsenal, We know about Watford and Stoke, and that defeat to Liverpool. Lots made about the club in crisis, but we are level with Chelsea and ahead of Liverpool. A long way behind Manchester City though – and that is what is important.

Spurs got a good win against Liverpool to go level on points against Manchester United. But it was not too long ago that they were struggling to win at home – draws against Swansea and Burnley. They are in fine form at the minute, yet still they are closer to Arsenal 94 points ahead) then they are to Manchester City (5 points behind).

Very little talk about cojones when they failed to beat Burnley or Swansea.

Manchester City look awesome. But then Leyton Orient would look awesome if they spent over £500m in 3 summers, on top of the billion pounds they spent in the 6 or 7 years previous.

With what they have spent recently, Manchester City should be winning titles every year. There last success in the league was 4 years ago. And they have just a single League Cup since.

None of this justifies Arsenal’s predicament. No title in 12 years is not good enough. Not using your finances to their full capability is not good enough.

We are not giving ourselves the best chance of success. At least if you try, then fail, at least you have tried. In recent transfer windows, we have not tried.

This season, every side will drop points against teams they really should beat. It happens every season. It is why the bookies are rich and the punters poor.

The only side that looks infallible so far is Manchester City. But then we are only 9 games in.

An early prediction, Manchester City will further ahead of second, than second is ahead of 6th. The other 5 sides are all a similar level of averageness – even if the press like to paint one club in crisis and the other as brilliant.

It will be a rollercoaster of a season.