Finger Pointing About Wilshere’s Injury Misses The Point


The memories stir with the headlines. England, World Cup, The Hope Of A Nation Rests On A Metatarsal; it’s all very familiar. Indeed, reading reports of Jack’s hairline fracture, playing through gritted teeth, the bulldog spirit if you like; memories do indeed come flooding back. Jack Wilshere is Foffo Spearjig: he felt nowt.

Were he several decades older, I am sure that Wilshere would have played through an FA Cup Final with every bone in his body broken making Bert Trautmann’s heroics seem like attention seeking. Older than that and he would have been the band member on The Titanic who played on and berated passengers for losing their calm. The Bulldog spirit is not some psychological condition induced by nationality, it is Jack Wilshere’s blood and sweat, collected and bottled by faeries in Albion’s fields. There are no tears because he is too hard.

And therein seems to be the perceived problem: Jack’s pain threshold is apparently too high, he is too heroic. It is easy to criticise for playing on through pain but I think the bigger issue is that we didn’t want him to play on through pain for England in a meaningless friendly. Had it been an Arsenal match, ire would not have been raised at the player for this but at the culprit; Daniel Agger is no doubt concerned by an online petition which wants someone to tell him off for being a naughty boy.

For Arsenal, the bigger issue is the impact on the squad. It is ludicrous to claim that Wilshere’s form is such that he won’t be missed whilst he is out. He will; form is transient and capable of changing within the course of a game let alone six weeks. That is before you consider the impact on the player(s) drafted in to replace him; it means fewer opportunities to compensate for other injuries if they occur. Hopes in some quarters that Aaron Ramsey’s return will more than make up for this miss the point. He is still talking in terms of weeks about his recovery and match fitness, which Wilshere has, will take longer to recover beyond that.

Arsène is not down to his last midfielder, any combination of Rosicky, Flamini, Gnabry and Oxlade-Chamberlain can compensate in central midfield or on the right whilst there is an argument that with a variation on formation, Podolski can be accommodated to extend options. The injury is just something which should have been avoided in the first place and for that Roy Hodgson must shoulder some of the blame; that is after all the name of the game.

Marked out as an international week, Hodgson and his employers are under no obligation to play a match for footballing reasons. Indeed, footballing reasons provide the best rationale for not playing this week with the season beginning with the League Cup final, the FA Cup Quarter-Finals, Champions and Europa League knockout phases in full flow, alongside the Premier League. In short, a number of Hodgson’s squad are playing twice each week between now and the end of the season. A week of training at St George’s Park would have been more beneficial, certainly better for the players than a friendly which had no value beyond confirming the paucity of England’s performance.

Arguably the cause of international football as a product would be better served by missing a friendly against the Danes than playing the match such has the condemnation of England been. The problem is that the Football Association are so in hock over Wembley’s renovation that even in a World Cup year, their most financially rewarding spell, that they have to raise the revenues somehow. A crowd of 65k suggests it has been relatively successful in that respect. Reports suggest their profit margins are going be hit with Arsenal preparing to charge them two month’s of the player’s salary. The club bean counters will be lifted by that, every cloud has a silver lining seems to be true.

At a time when the governing bodies and national associations criticise the clubs for the number of games they play, for putting profits before player health, injuries to high-profile players in meaningless friendlies condemn them with their own words. The problem is an unwillingness on anyone’s part to find a solution which avoids a week during the season where internationals can scupper challenges for silverware. It isn’t beyond the wit of man to do so; with commercial and broadcast revenues continuing to rise, the time is ripe for a fundamental overview of the game in such a way that protects that aspect as a base point whilst enhancing the ‘product’ for sale. Self-interest in protecting the status quo of twenty top-flight teams may be holding back the game as a whole.

’til Tomorrow

133 thoughts on “Finger Pointing About Wilshere’s Injury Misses The Point

  1. @Bill

    Torres at his best was based purely on pace and finishing. Gerrard for Liverpool or one of the Spanish midfielders played a little through ball and Torres would burst through with his pace and run clear.

  2. @C

    It’s all good mate. I hadn’t noticed Matuidi had resigned but I’ve been very busy for the past few days. Griezmann’s buy out (if it is a buy out clause and not just a notice to the player that another team is interested but we are unwilling to sell clause) just further makes the point about the costs associated with all the teams needs.


    Yeah, Chelsea are still waiting to see the 2010 Torres as well. lol, so we are now picking strikers with finishing ability by their better years playing? 🙂 lol.

  3. Miami @ 7:05

    In this case I am taking a very complex issue which is our attacking malaise and trying to come up with one single solution to fix everything which is probably not realistic. I understand that. However, as I have said many times we have some incredibly talented creative players but they can’t be as effective if they don’t have an equally talented players to pass the ball to. Look at the Spanish national team in the 2010 World Cup. The most creative talent in one midfield that I have ever seen but they were the lowest scoring World Cup winner in history by a large margin because their finishers were misfiring.

    Adding a new striker is probably as close to a magic bullet as you can get because it would allow to abandon the back to goal style. IMO. That one move would go further towards allowing us to play a more effective and eye pleasing style of attacking football then any other single move we could make. IMO.

  4. A quick heads up whilst I wait for my flight home. Tomorrow’s post is written and will be up at 6.30 or 7am, I can’t remember which, my travel-lagged brain is creaking under the weight of alcohol, sleep deprivation and general knackeredness.

    One for the US readers, what the fuck is Spring Break? Is that the one where they all fly to Daytona Beach, get high, drink to oblivion and shag each other senseless? If so, can you all do that tomorrow? I’ve got to land, watch #2 son play football and then Arsenal try to do the same.

    Jesus wept, I even had to queue to sit at the bar of Pappadeux’s at the airport.

  5. @MA

    Its all good mate, just trying to lend the little bit of knowledge that I do have. Personally for me, the order in which we need to address our areas of need would be:

    Top-World Class striker: 25-50M
    RB: 10-15M
    CM/DM: 10-20M
    backup keeper: free – 10M
    winger/striker: 10-40M

    A lot will depend on the World Cup but there’s also players like Khederia whose contract is up in 2015 so could be had for a bit cheaper. The main thing is striker, we could probably get El Sharraway for 25M while then finding a RB for 10-13M, Gonalons, Khederia, or one of the Bender twins for 14-25M, and then grab a back-up keeper either on loan or for the cheap. That’s roughly 63M before wages.

  6. In any case Bill, you are entitled to your views mate and I’m sorry if I just don’t share them in the way. Finishing is very important and I don’t want to down play that aspect of a striker at all. However, we have seen lots of players score goals and more often than not it is being on the end of someone else’s work. Positional sense is as important if not more important a trait in a striker if we want to get technical. Giroud worked best and was looking world class when he had a rampant running Ramsey getting in to the box beyond the striker to fire home. In my eyes, since we los that type of player to get beyond the striker the team has floundered and even when we have a willing runner in Oxlade, we don’t play him. That does in no way absolve Giroud of his part in the malaise and I am not trying too, but as you have seen I do take umbrage at the idea being floated about that he is responsible for all the failings. Which I believe is a gross oversimplification.

  7. Not sure if its just agent talk or not but Riccardo Montolivo’s agent has come out after being asked and said:

    “Has there been interest from other clubs? There have been tentative enquiries from Atletico Madrid, [Borussia Dortmund manager Jurgen] Klopp and Arsenal, to name a few.

    “All were trying to ascertain whether the ‘path’ to Montolivo was feasible.

    “At the moment, however, I feel it would be very difficult for the player to leave Milan, precisely because of what I said before.”

    So it does seem that Arsene is looking for a replacement for Flamini and Arteta sooner rather than later.

  8. I know you fellas love your back and forth based seemingly on assumptions, presumptions, gut feelings etc, but isn’t it just a bit difficult as it is mainly based on shifting sands – or opinions.

    But I am enjoying it. 🙂

    Miami, I noted your guestimate about the possible cost of the suggested new players coming in at approx £100m.

    What you will also need to factor in is the cost of the salaries. As yet another guestimate, the going rate for players of that calibre would be possibly £100K per week, = £5.2m per annum * 4 years = £21m.

    If that is applied to (say) 5 players = £21m * 5 = £105m

    Therefore to the capital cost of £100m you would then need to add the 4 year contracts of £105m = £205m

    Now there would be some offset to that from the value of the players sold less their salaries, but you would still be talking about; £ 205m less (say) {£15m – player sales + £10m – salaries) = £180m.

    So ignoring all other increased costs for player salaries, running costs etc, we would need to have an additional £180m to offset somehow.

    However, if we say a winger (Griezman) cost the buyout of £25m, and a new CF (Balotelli) would cost (say) £50m, and a new keeper, Mandana (say) £15m, a new DM beast(Pogba?) (say) £20m and finally a replacement for TV, (?) (say) £20m it is possible the cost of these players might be £130m + salaries of £40m * 4 years = £160m and suddenly the figures could be; Capital cost = £130m + salaries = £160m and the total becomes £290m.

    Fook me, this guestimate business could kill off Arsenal in a heart beat if we lot were in control of the purse strings. 🙂

    Is there an element of whistling in the wind here?

  9. @C

    I love the optimism in your prices 🙂 I guess we’ll see in the summer, a lot to cover and I just cannot see all that happening. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Arsenal not sign a striker at all again if he gets a Draxler type and Theo coming back from injury. Not saying I’d approve, but it wouldn’t shock me at all.

    Keeper and RB are obvious needs due to the fact these two players are leaving and both are first team regulars either in the starting line up or bench. That much is undeniable. The cost could easily be 20M plus for both if not more.

    Then the issue of Podolski (sale and perhaps a make weight in any German deal) and Tv5 (who has stated his desire to move on). Again like the aforementioned GK and RB position, they are regulars from the bench when healthy and thus need to be replaced. I expect maybe 10-15M for a want away Tv5 and similar probably for Podolski (obviously higher end).

    See, this is why I’m just not confident in the numbers. Assuming Campbell continues to develop and Arsene takes the gamble then we have both he and Gnabry. I would if Campbell was to play (squad depth) then look to loan Gnabry out for a season or half season loan at an EPL side (perhaps Everton would be interested). I would say that decision would also be based upon the fitness of Theo.

    Of course, say we did spend it all and the wallet is now bare. How long is it only to take to see a potential 6-7 players gel and settle in to their every day Emirates life? So many questions, so few answers.

  10. we have some of the most talented creative players in the world in our midfield yet that midfield suddenly forgets how to create? That does not make any sense to me.

    Myself I believe that the biggest problem has been the front lines inability to finish the chances we do create, and the fact that based on his skill set the best style of play for our CF is back to goal. Back to goal style will always be slow and methodical and creative talent can not be expressed in a slow methodical type of attacking game. IMO

    Obviously not everyone agrees with that statement. I don’t think we can buy any more talented creative midfielders no matter how much we want to spend. The only realistic option we have is to quickly improve our game is to spend what it takes to improve the overall quality and pace in our forwards and hope that helps. IMO.

  11. @HenryB

    I got that mate. The obvious answer is of course that both salaries and transfer fee’s are apparently not paid in a chunk but rather pro-rata over the course of the deal. My figures were indeed wild speculation and have no basis in fact because each year transfers and salaries seem rather immune to economics. I just read that Liverpool announced results of 50M or there about in a loss for the previous reporting period. What is of more interest is even with the new TV deal there salaries are now over 70% of the clubs total revenue.

  12. Miami

    I know we will never splash out like that and in any case it really is counter productive to bring in so many new players.
    I forgot all about the goal keeper situation too.
    To answer you question I really don’t know what it would cost to get in every one we need.
    We are going to be a team rebuilding again next season, which makes this seasons lack or interest in getting the players we needed to really go for the title so shocking to me. This season we had the best opportunity to make up the ground on the other top 4 teams and build from there. Next season with all the players we gonna need and the stability and accusations of the other top teams we are gonna have a hard time.
    This was the time to go for the jaguar and we didn’t. Why not ? I really don’t know but I don’t believe it is a lack of funds.

  13. @Bill

    “we have some of the most talented creative players in the world in our midfield yet that midfield suddenly forgets how to create? That does not make any sense to me.”

    They have not forgotten how to create Bill. The problem is that the players in the midfield and attacking areas further are not creating movement in which to thread the ball. We have no runners, or next to none. If you look at the midfield they almost all play the same way. Ozil, Arteta, Flamini, Cazorla, Rosicky (lesser extent) are all passes of the ball first and foremost. Jack (lesser extent), Oxlade and Aaron all play with movement in to advanced areas. If we select a midfield of Arteta, Flamini, Ozil, Cazorla they are all looking for runners first. None of them are box to box midfielders, in fact only Aaron can claim that but with work I think Oxlade could get there. That midfield has lost talent, it has nothing to do with ability it is about the lack of movement for these guys when they are on the ball. Yes, that includes Giroud, but it also includes each one of those midfielders not in possession of the ball. You ever wonder why Arsenal have 5 midfielders outside the 18 yard box all the time?

  14. @PFish

    The management of the Suarez and Higuain situations were plain awful. Add to that the mismanagement of the Sagna situation and you know there have been issues internally. I find myself slowly switching to a mind set where I think Arsenal may be better off with some new blood at the helm. That takes nothing away from Arsene, who has been a terrific manager (even in the drought years). But, he is not infallible and perhaps Arsenal need something new, whether for better or worse will have to be determined as time rolls on. I was always of the belief we were not going to win the title this season, but a trophy would have been nice given our early play. Then of course the injuries start mounting and the manager makes another odd call by not signing another striker but adds fuel to the fire of discontent by signing a player in the midfield he knew to be injured at the end of a 30 day window. Has Arsene lost the plot? No, I don’t think so. But, I do find myself asking whether he has grown to comfortable in the role and lost something of the edge he once had.

  15. @MA

    I wasn’t saying that we spend that much mate I was just giving the prices based on what I have seen flashed around and what clubs have been saying.

    Alot will depend on Theo coming back, Sagna leaving and then the Podolski situation as Verm has already said he wants out and Fabianski will be leaving on a free. I wouldn’t be surprised like you have stated if Podolski sold(I would hurt but would also be joyed because he would be playing regularly) to help bring somebody like Reus or Draxler to the Emirates. I think though there is plenty of time to discuss that subject and all transfers both before and after the World Cup plus based on CL qualifications.

    O the same will come until then I like the lineup that I put out earlier with the pivot pairing also possibly being Arteta paired with one of Mozart/Ox.

  16. @C

    I think Oxlade is deserving of an extended run in the same, he looks both the most likely to contribute to the attacks what with his desire to get forward and his added pace to get there.

  17. I was not really talking about your estimate Miami, just using that as a base to do some rough calculations, and then contrast that with some of my own

    If I am right (£290m) – let’s call it £280m as we are friends, that would be amortised over the 4 years = £70m per annum.

    If the new TV deal brings in £30m per annum (?) + the new sponsorship deal [£150m/5years] = £30m the total new annual income £60m per annum. Already the 5 newbies would cancel out the new increased income.

    The £100m spend is based (probably) on the cash at bank of that sum at the balance sheet date last year – I have not checked, But from that sum the club would have to pay its tax liabilities and the monies due for salaries, interest on the Emirates project, blah blah – it is not just free unaccounted for cash.

    We cannot get away from the principle under which Arsenal are run, which is as a self sufficient/self sustaining business and some of these projected expenditures would just not be realistic in my opinion.
    I would imagine Arsenal would buy an Ozil type player every year for the next 3 or 4 years, which could revolutionise the club’s chances of winning trophies, especially when the new crop of youngsters are factored in to the equation!

    Warning: These are just figures for chewing the fat – and are probably bollix. 🙂

  18. I think even a “top word class striker” could struggle the first year in the PL. Unless we recruit him from within. Someone like the “new Sturridge”.

  19. Miami

    I doubt we will ever agree on much of anything but there is nothing wrong with that. I have been on the blog for about 6 years now and it never fails that someone disagrees with me. For a long the vast majority of the regular posters disagreed with me. That is part of what makes it fun at least for me.

    To make it simple, in your mind the single biggest problem has been a breakdown of the creativity of our midfield while I think the biggest problem has been in our forwards, most notably the finishing skills of the players who have played our 3 forward spots and the methodical style of play dictated by the skill set of our CF. There is not much middle ground between the 2 views and the truth probably lies somewhere between the 2.

  20. Miami

    I typed the last post before I read your 9:00 pm.

    I think the biggest problem with our lack of movement has been that when we set up with our CF deep with his back to goal it allows the defensive team to also set up deep and stay organized in front of goal and there is no space to move into. Even the back to goal worked better early in the season but teams adapt and once they figured out how to defend that set up there are not many ways to try anything different. The only space that is available against a well organized deep lying defense is 35 yards from goal so once the defense and the attack are set up its very difficult to be creative in very tight spaces and it’s very difficult to get any penetration.

  21. Miami
    I think you pointed out exactly what the problem is. We have to many similar player on the pitch. Who’s fault is that ,, only one person to point the finger at. The creativity in our midfield is staggering, yet we cant create.
    While I am thrilled to have Ozil at the club I think we would have benefitted way more from either one of Suarez or Higuain.

  22. Bill,

    — “its very difficult to be creative in very tight spaces and it’s very difficult to get any penetration. ”

    It just needs practise, Bill, or so I have been told! 🙂

  23. Having the attacking team set up with the back to goal is the ideal scenario for a defensive team to effectively park the bus. IMO. The teams that used that attacking set up historically have been the slower moving teams that rely of height and strength and scrappy goal mouth play and set pieces to score. That’s never been arsenal and it’s certainly not the best style for a team that is built around midfield creativity. I think Arsene thought that we could bring midfielders into the game by the quick passing and movement around the CF and it worked for a while until the other teams adapted.

  24. Bill
    Im not so sure I agree with that. Girouds back to goal play and lack of pace allows the defense to push up higher than they normally would and this congests the midfield. The amount of ball playing between our centre backs and goal keeping is staggering. This is due to us being unable to move out of our half as every one is in the middle of the pitch. It also allows the other team to close us down easier as there is a hell of a lot less space on the pitch. Having Theo really helps with this as the opposition defense has to sit deeper for fear of him running onto space. This opens up the middle of the pitch and then our creatives can create.
    Teams still park the bus on us they just do it higher up now days.

  25. Giroud was working when we had Aaron running beyond the striker. Aaron out the explosiveness is gone, is that due to Giroud? or the lack of runners in the team looking to get in to the office off the striker? The reality is it worked when we had the players to do it, what we don’t have now is the willingness of the midfielders to perform that role. Can it be fixed? I don’t know. Should be ask Giroud to now adjust his style to that of a off the shoulder runner? Perhaps. At the end of the day the team needs to evolve with the abilities of the players around them. Lets call it evolution 🙂

  26. 12 in 26 games isn’t terrible by any goal scorer. No, he ain’t Suarez but then he never was. Higuain is 13 in 24.

  27. ” I have been on the blog for about 6 years now and it never fails that someone disagrees with me.”.

    I even disagree with that. 😀

  28. Pistol

    I don’t agree but that’s an interesting thought.

    When we are attacking, I see lots of quick passes to Giroud who sets up back to goal in front of the parked bus. The midfield sends the ball to him and he will try to make a pass or flick the ball to an advancing midfielder but they don’t have any space to run into since the bus is parked. If he tries to pass the ball into a tight space the defense will usually intercept, which explains the stat Jonny had the other day where he is one of the league leaders in turnovers. Girouds only other option is to ping the back to a midfielder 30 yards from goal and the cycle starts over. The key to that type of set up is OG since he is the target man. OG is not the sort of CF that can create something for himself or do something different by moving with ball at his feet. In that scenario, I can’t think of a lot of other attacking options that we have with that set up and it is very easy to defend against since there is very little variety and the defense knows what to expect.

  29. JONNY


    I always been fun. Perhaps it was even more fun 4-5 years when everyone hated me and called me names. I learned some awesome new curse words back then.


    IMO. Clearly the system we are running now does not fit the players we have and it does not promote midfield creativity. Ramsey would help but the system was starting to bog down well before he was injured. I think the rest of the league watched films and adjusted and now our options for trying to change are limited. I think Giroud is the reason Arsene built this style of play in the first place because OG would not really be effective in the PL as an off the shoulder striker facing the goal. Again just my opinion.

  30. It’s probably not realistic to try and completely change your style of play when the season is almost 3/4 over. I suspect the best option is to continue to defend well, keep a lot of clean sheets and hope we can score enough goals. That kept us at the top of the table most of this season. I have to admit I expected the team to run out of the mental mojo it takes to win ugly on a consistent basis at some point but all I can do is hope that they can surprise me and somehow pull out a trophy. Fingers crossed.

  31. if we gave Sanogo a run of games now i wonder how much better he’d become until summer. I mean the kid has talent though he’s very “green” atm. But as Jenkinson showed last year, with enough playing time they can take the next step if they get enough playtime…

  32. @Pistol Fish well in all fairness both Suarez and Higuain were plan A. Ozil was bought because he was available and we had 40m+ to use as we never managed to buy Suarez. But the club was willing to pay 40M for Suarez.

    Im sure they will try to bring in some kind of household name this summer. It may not be the one we expect. but I’m sure that when he comes we will all end up knowing the guy. just like we did Podolski and Ozil.

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