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Wilshere and the balance between long and short term

By Walter Broeckx

 

So Arsenal dropped two points at Aston Villa last Saturday. And again the end of the universe is near. No I must admit I couldn’t see the game myself. As most know I am active as a ref myself and because of some bad luck my own game was starting when Arsenal played the second half in Birmingham. So because of the travel arrangements I couldn’t see the game. So I cannot comment on the game itself and will give my thoughts on things without having seen the game. I only saw the highlights on Match of the Day and highlights on my local sports channel.

 

Looking at the highlights it looked as if Arsenal had the better and the most chances of the two teams. So I can only conclude that we have played better than at Norwich. Where it was really a bad affaire. As it can happen to any team. Ask United who also lost at Norwich. And the same United that almost lost their game at Villa Park a few weeks ago.

 

One of the main talking points around the internet was the fact that Wilshere was on the bench and didn’t play. I think him being on the bench was something that was hidden in something that Wilshere said before the game at Aston Villa.  Wilshere himself said that he thought he was at 80 to 85% of his physical ability. That was after the Montpellier game.

 

My first reaction when reading this was: maybe resting him against Villa would not be a bad idea. So it happened. And some weren’t happy about this. And wanted the manager to explain this. I just wondered if people are really that dumb?

 

In his first season Wilshere played and played and played and played and played. But as he is such a talented player and looked very strong you think he is unbreakable. Now we know better. He is made of flesh and blood and can get an injury as any other player. After being out for such a long period it is almost ridiculous to having to explain why you rest a player from time to time when he has been playing already 2 games in the 7 days before the third game of that week.

 

Of course we want him to play all the time. But we should know that this is not and never will be possible in football as it is now these days. Even Messi is rested at Barcelona from time to time in their two team league. And Messi has no previous serious injury record. It is impossible for any player to play each game. And certainly when you come back from an injury that was as bad as the one Jack had.

 

Let us not forget that during last season at many times we heard rumours that he might never return at all. Rumours saying that he would have to stop being a footballer. I must say that when I read those rumours I prayed that they were just false rumours (as most rumours are) but well you never know.  Stress fractures are more dangerous than a contact fracture one of the doctors I know told me about it. More difficult to detect at first, more difficult to heal and bigger chance of coming back. Now I am not a doctor so I can only believe what they told me but if this is the case I think Wenger has every reason to be careful with Jack.

 

But because he has been out so long you also have to be careful to not provoke other injuries like muscular injuries. Wilshere is a player who likes to battle on the field and getting involved in contact with other players. He’s not scared at all and kicking and getting kicked is part of the job. But when you have been out for so long each kick can cause you a problem.

 

I think it is remarkable that since coming back he hasn’t got any muscular injuries so far. I expected him to have a calf or thigh or grown injury by now. I probably have jinxed it right now but it would be very natural to have such little injuries that can keep you away from the field for a few weeks. I think it is partly down to Wenger handling him softly and taking him off after one hour of playing that he hasn’t had such injuries until now. But it still could come.

 

And imagine if it would come after being played full games in a row every 3 days? We would be screaming against Wenger : why didn’t you rest him?  Wenger has said from the start when Wilshere returned that they would be very careful in playing him and that they needed to look further than the next game when it came to playing him. But people forget easily. Now it looks as if he has been around for ages. Believe me it is only a good month that he returned to the squad and was match fit.

 

We shouldn’t question the selection of non-selection of Wilshere. I think we should accept that we don’t know the complete ins and outs of fitness levels players have. Maybe Wenger got a warning from one of the medical staff that after the Montpellier game (a very intense 90 minutes for Wilshere) he would need more time to recover compared to other team mates who didn’t have the injury problems.  And well apparently even they didn’t as fit as they did against the totts and Montpellier.

 

Of course a the end of the game against Aston Villa one could say: we would have won this game with Wilshere in the team. That is just an opinion people can have. But it isn’t certain you know. We have lost games with Wilshere in the team and it can happen again. It is no 100% guarantee to have him in the team and to take all 3 points.

 

And with the next game being maybe more important than the game against Aston Villa it was a good thing to try to make sure that Wilshere would be 100% fit for the game at Everton. And even then we still don’t know how really fit he will be for this game. Like I said there are no certainties in football.

 

The only certainty we have is that the team looked tired but this week all the teams will have to play 3 games in a week so it might have been a good thing to bring on his fresher legs at Everton.

 

Let us just be patient with Wilshere. And accept that from time to time he will need a rest and in the next two months this will certainly be needed more than ever. The last thing I want to happen is to lose Wilshere with a new injury. I can’t even understand the debate or that there can be a debate about it.

 

A fit Wilshere is a benefit for Arsenal. So doing all he can to keep him fit is the best thing for Wilshere and for Arsenal in the long run. Even when it means not playing him every now and then.

22 comments to Wilshere and the balance between long and short term

  • americangooner

    aptly written. a good read.
    like ramsey said fans must be patient with wilshere. wasn’t that the sort of game we would like wilshere to rest? we might also see cazorla subbed since rosicky is back.

  • GoonerEris

    Well said, man. Fans are anxious and rightly so. But to demand an explanation for every action of the Manager is taking things a bit too far. The season has entered a period when it will be like 3 games each week and we will need some freshness, without impairing the competitiveness of the team.

  • A. Stewart

    Honestly, Wilshere is a good young player but even before injury, I think his contribution was somewhat overrated to be honest. Yes he had a great performance against Barcelona, but he also had poor games, and many many average games, yet his season was painting as some kind of mercurial once in a generation player success, when it was actually pretty average. Yes I get it he’s young and did well for his age, but we don’t play in an age group competition.

    I think Guardiola nailed it when he said that they were many players like Wilshere in Barca’s youth and reserves squads. Many Gooners and English took it as a dis, but I think it was rather just an honest assessment, that while a young technically gifted midfielder in England is rare it truly isn’t in Spain and other countries, and isn’t seen as some kind of great rare hope as it is seen in England, and those young technically gifted players in other countries will not get the same opportunities as in England with their dearth of technically accomplished players and wouldn’t get the same opportunities as with Wenger’s Arsenal that not only promotes youth, but also technical ability over (worryingly)seemingly everything else..

    Now about the injury stuff, why shouldn’t expectations be high even in his return? Wenger constantly sells returning players (you know “like new signings”) as reasons to not sign others, and then preaches patience? You can’t have it both ways imo. If the reason we won’t sign a player (that constantly according to club in various musings we have money to do so if we want) is because Diaby, Wilshere etc are coming back and will be like new top signings, then they should be expected to bear the expectations of a new top signings. Of course it is unfair on their shoulders, but it is the management who puts them in that position. And moreover, it’s not good for the team when we are depending on players that are in no position to be depended on because they are either injury prone (Diaby) or coming back from long term injury (Wilshere). Some will well we added Cazorla, but as usual we got rid of someone to balance (Song, ironically along with being a big contributor, was the one player that was practically never injured despite being played heavily) so the net effect is the same and more realistically backwards.

    I agree that realistically fans should be patient with a player returning from long term injury, but similarly the club should then be realistic in not trying to sell such a player as a new top signing and as a reason to not bring in others so the dependence on him would be less (we shouldn’t be depending on and pinning our hopes a barely out of his teenage years kid even if he was fit all this while)

    Also regarding this line: “In his first season Wilshere played and played and played and played and played. But as he is such a talented player and looked very strong you think he is unbreakable. Now we know better.”

    You mean it’s only NOW YOU (don’t know where this “we” thing comes from) know better that it’s unwise to overplay teenagers in the most physically demanding league in the world (not to mention the unfair mental pressure of pinning hopes on a kid to be an elite club’s “saviour”).

    With all due respect a little research on stress fractures would show that they are amongst the most common OVERUSE injuries of young athletes and sports persons.

    Anyway back to Wilshere, good young player but regardless of injury, I really don’t see him as this extra special super duper player than many Gooners and English fans do.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Wenger certainly does have to be careful with Wilshere as he comes back, but I thought his replacement, Ramsey did very well, especially on a surface with players sliding in all over the place. If we are not careful with Wilshere, who knows, could have another Diaby on our hands, and surely Wengers critics do not want that….or do some if it suits their agenda? The players worrying me are Cazorla and Arteta, both have raised themselves recently but look in need of a rest. We do not want those two in the red zone or injured. Some players look like they are being over played, others seem regularly injured, others…Wenger has clearly lost faith in. We need to balance these issues maybe a bit more than we have done in recent years. This team do not lack talent, fight or a work ethic, we just seem a bit short on trusted reliable players in a couple positions occupied by weary legs at the moment. Rosicky coming back will help, Ramsey looks good in a more central position, Theo has really improved this team lately but some clearly need a rest, we must learn lessons on overplaying some players

  • GoingGoingGooner

    I watched the game and while we weren’t outstanding we were far from being dire. We kept possession for the most part and created some chances. Their high line worked well and we spent a good part of the time trying to get the ball to our midfielders with enough space to turn with the ball. Villa didn’t create much of note at all so our defence was OK.

    Wenger has taken some flak from some of the rather predictable critical corners for his substitutions but we did make a push late on and could have snatched a winner at the death. Afterwards the hacks took a run at Wenger trying to represent themselves as speaking for the fans. meh. I would never let the poison pushers that call themselves journalists speak for me.

  • Fedda

    Wilshere being on the bench is perfectly understandable and a logical move from the manager. He might have made a difference, but that is not what worries me. Our lack of consistency and not being able to break down our opponents is costing us. Villa is nearly a relegation team, whom we should beat comfortably.

    Maybe the team hasn’t “clicked” yet or there is something else going on. The players spend too much time on the ball which makes it harder to break through and therefore we rely on crosses. Which might work just as fine, but against Villa there was only Giroud in the box. Against spurs there were 4-5 players in the box on every cross.

    Playing midweek and going away right after cost a lot of energy for the players, and so there was less movement off the ball which is one of our greatest strengths generally.

    Even so. I think the team will play better and more organized later in the season. We will finish top 4. But can we win a trophy? As it stands I don’t think we will, I hope we do though. We might just get a few lucky draws in one of the cups we are in.

    I feel as a Liverpool-supporter saying this. If we can keep the squad together and add whatever Wenger finds beneath a hidden rock, we are definitely in it next season. (Sorry I tracked off a bit, just happened as I was typing.)

  • Steve

    I don’t question Arsene not playing Wilshere. However given his comments after the match when he stated why he didn’t play him, I think it’s a fair question to ask as to why he had him on the bench at all. Why not rest him completely, avoid the trip north and put a player like Eifeld on the bench.

  • bjtgooner

    Nice article Walter & I agree it was the correct decision to rest Wilshere, further, as Mandy has noted Ramsey played well in midfield.

    There are a number of so-called fans making a lot of noise about Wilshere not playing and being on the bench etc, but it is obvious the manager made the correct decision. Some of these so-called fans are compulsive moaners.

    I don’t think we have yet seen the best of our midfield, as some players, including Wilshere, need more time to adjust to the new playing partners. Creatively, we have a fantastic group of midfielders but, I agree with Mandy, we need cover for Arteta in particular, preferably with some additional height. If Diaby cannot regain fitness we need to buy.

    I have now watched the AV game twice, and while the ref was very lenient with AV, we did manage to create chances and with some luck/coolness or a better final ball would have won the match easily.

  • Ong Bing

    I am fully agree to rested Jack, he just back from long injured, his body not fully recover. Besides we need him fresh on Everton game.

    Put Jack on Villa game not guarantee we will be better.

  • Sammy The Snake

    Let’s not over emphasize Wilshere’s role in the team. He is a talented young player, but he is no magician. How would we have felt to have drawn the game AND had Jack injured in those horrible conditions?

  • Yassin

    for god sake, i believe ramsey played his best game this season, the AAA problem is that they didn`t have any reason to blame for when we couldn`t win, they didn`t want to give credit to villa for there amasing playing… the team played well just lacked the last pass….
    Arteta need a rest too, he is not doing well, yes he is doing his job but not more, and that is not him, that is why we dont press up like we did before…
    Just let Wenger build this team for god sake, they need chemistry, look at QPR, Liverpool, Milan,… all those teams which have too much new players, where are in much better positions, at least we are still in the champions league…
    I trust Wenger and trust his judgement, no matter what he do it 4 Arsenal and that is enough 4 me.

  • Doanythingformoney

    You can’t play pass and move football without having players who can move continuously and find the angles or space. Caz and Art are not pass and movers in the CM position. Neither can they close down for 90 mins. AW should move Caz into Pods position and give him 60 mins. He should rest Art- play Rambo, Jack and the Coq in the engine room with the Ox or Wally wide right and get back to pass and move. Gerv can come on for Caz and Pod for Giroud after 60. The goals will come.

  • Limpar

    Good article, But Im surprised people are questioning the fact jack was on the bench… it gets more & more silly each season.
    Its permanently silly season.
    Good points do anything, but atm it would be a huge risk to play that young midfield unless we build up some momentum & get an opportunity in a home match against a lesser side. Maybe after the cup have proved coquelin or someone else to deserve a real chance? But i see what you mean, & cas / arteta need some help in there !

  • Damien Luu

    Poor old Arsène! He didn’t play Jack and we didn’t win, people call for his head. If he played Jack and we didn’t win, the same morons, I mean wise guys, would still call for his head. If he played Jack and we won, but Jack got injured, those morons, I mean wise guys, would still call for his head. If he played Jack and we won and Jack was fine, those morons, I mean wise guys, would still call for his head because Jack is NOT that special and he is so stubborn that he didn’t buy, buy, buy.

    There are some morons, I mean wise guys, that I don’t even want to let them kiss my a**. Really.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Last week’s game was poor on an atrocious pitch in very bad conditions .We did not have much cohesion and the play was very disjointed .We had to work hard for that point ,and its still a point gained away from home.We should win games like this against opponents in the lower half of the table but they too were fighting for the points .
    As for resting players ,substitutions and tactics ,I ‘d leave it to AW as he works with them daily and knows best .I too was pissed ,but sometimes shit happens (as it did it in the clip I’d posted yesterday!).
    Do not go into a frenzy over trivial matters as shown in this heart warming clip –
    http://www.speakaboos.com/story/chickenlittle

  • ARSENAL 13

    good one Walter……

    The real problem is that the fans think they know better….well, actually they dont.

    The fact that Ramsey was our best man on pitch must have annoyed the ‘Wilshere is our GOD’ boys. I am a big fan of the Welshman and of Wishere too. I believe Ramsey-Wilshere midfield partnership is the way forward for ASRENAL. AND Wilshere needs rest. He has just recovered from an injury. Why cant people see that.

    And for Giroud sub…..I think it was also a good one. We need Giroud for the Everton game. A little extra rest wouldnt do any harm.

    We spend a so-so money to go and watch Arsenal doesnt give us the right to question a man who has dedicated his life for the successes of our beloved club. A decade or two from now we will look back at this period of Arsenal and remember a man who transformed Arsenal into the new era…

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Oops ! Should have been –
    http://www.speakaboos.com/story/chicken-little

  • Brickfields Gunners

    And frenzy is defined as a group of blind lesbians in a sardine factory !
    Take your time if you don’t get it the first time around !

  • Sav from Australia

    It feels like Arsenal are on the verge of greatness. I suspect that with new revenues and the squad getting stronger and more mature, maybe some dark forces are seeking to destablise the club before this can happen.

  • Sav from Australia

    Arsenal can win the league this season. I firmly believe it is as much a possiblity as Man City, Man Utd or Chelsea. To compare squads at least. 10 points is not insurmountable! It’s a joke to think anything is settled now.

    Why is it such a big deal, the guys are improving, I do not understand why supporters boo the manager under present circumstances (e.g. at the Villa game, although people online said it was only a minority). It just seems like people getting sucked into the media negative hype.

  • Sav from Australia

    Sorry Walter, was reading comments and forgot to respond to your post. I agree, the decision to rest Wilshere was the right one. And Ramsey did pretty well.