It’s been a while, you have to admit. The past few international breaks have been a breeze, players went and they came back uninjured. It was our job to knacker up our assets, no-one else’s. After all, I’m sure Arsène thought in a quiet moment, I’ve suffered enough in the past with this.
Apparently not. Alexis’ injury is considered worthy of recalling him to the club despite the player telling the world there was no issue and he’s fine. The Black Knight approach to fitness is not going to serve him well in the long-term. It begs the question of what is more important in a player’s mind.
In Alexis’ case, it’s “I walk therefore I play”, we know that but at some point, he and others have to be pulled aside and told to look at the bigger picture: aggravate an injury this week and you miss a longer spell. Better a rest this week – as Germany did with Mesut Özil – and have a player available for a full season than sideline him for a spell.
Not that Chile care, their objective is the World Cup and with two home games against team’s above them in the South American qualifying group table, winning overrides any common sense or duty of care to Arsenal. It seems unlikely that they will have the power; FIFA has emasculated clubs in this sense and the final decision always rests with the national FAs.
As Morrissey wailed, “Manchester, so much to answer for”.
Hector Bellerin is on his way back from Spain with a touch of ankle knack while Lucas Perez has returned to Spain to continue his rehabilitation. So that’s our first choice right back and central striker we may be going to Old Trafford with. Has Carl Jenkinson played there for us since the 8 – 2? It might just play on his mind, if it is. That and the red card he received that day. It wasn’t a run-of-the-mill defeat; it was humiliation, a battering never to be forgotten.
On the subject of injuries, it was interesting to read Jack Wilshere’s view that he’s “almost having to fall back in love with the game again”. Other players often cite recuperation as the hardest part of any injury and the mental impact it has. For Wilshere, the recent match against Tottenham was the first time in 771 days he played a full 90 minutes. Two years; it’s an incredible run and if anyone thinks he should be running things at Bournemouth, worth bearing in mind.
Whether he returns to Arsenal is another matter:
“It is a difficult one because I love Arsenal and I’ve had great times there. If I go back and I’m still not playing then of course I will have to think about things but at the moment I’m concentrating on Bournemouth. I want to put myself in a position where I go back next year and I’m a better player. I’m fitter, I’ve proved to people I can play week in and week out and I’m ready for the challenge.”
The first step as Wilshere says is getting fit this season. You have to wonder if his future is intertwined with that of Santi Cazorla with the club seemingly in no particular hurry to renew the Spaniard’s deal. Is he going to be offered a short-term deal if Jack returns? Are the club waiting to see if Jack wants to return, knowing that Cazorla is still there and for all intents and purposes, first choice in the team?
Wilshere, in my view, is good enough to command a place in the Arsenal first team provided he is fully fit and capable of retaining that as well. Jack has become a ‘Marmite’ player, divisive in some eyes due to his injury record. Predominantly impact injuries, there is a school of thought that he needs to release the ball sooner, something Wilshere has previously acknowledged.
Let’s not forget he is ‘only’ 24 and whilst experienced, is young enough to change his style of play to suit the team more in the longer term. Whether that opportunity arises is a different matter.
It’s a situation which will become little clearer – in public at least – before Arsenal have to act on Cazorla. Maybe they have and been told Santi wants to wait to see his options next summer. Who knows? Not us, that’s for sure.