Tension is building over the match against Man City on Sunday but it’s probably best to save the match preview for the morrow where I have more time to craft something brilliant-ish. For now, you get this discussion on which players have earned the right to start.
Arsene Wenger has stated that Jack Wilshere is just 10 days away from an appearance in a reserves fixture, which is quite the surprise. If I were a betting man, I would put money on Wilshere’s first first team appearance coming as a sub on October 20th, away to Norwich.
In the mean time let’s all exercise a little patience. He’s been out 14 months and the last thing that anyone wants to see is another injury. Wenger has plenty of options at the moment so no need to rush the youngster back. But I do wonder who Jack gets to displace when he is healthy — a debate I would like to save until late October when he’s getting ready to start playing again.
Szczesny, on the other hand, is out with an ankle injury for 2-3 weeks. Combined with Fabianski’s injury that leaves Arsenal with just Mannone and James Shea as keepers for the matches against Man City, Coventry (in the COC), and Chelsea. To say that this is a huge test for Mannone is an understatement: this three game bundle is the make-or-break moment for him. I know that I said players shouldn’t take starting spots away from other players through short-term injury but three good games against billionaire teams would make it very difficult to drop Mannone. Three mediocre games is a different story and even one clanger of a game will solidify him as backup keeper. But three good games and I have to think he is undroppable for a while.
I know that Szczesny is very popular among the Arsenal support but popularity doesn’t win football games — talent and hard work do. If popularity mattered at all, the starting XI would include Henri Lansbury. Hell, even if just plain old hard work mattered Lansbury would get a spot but it’s not enough these days. You have to be hugely talented, insanely dedicated, and if you’re a massive fan of the team you play for, then that’s a bonus.
Speaking of players who have talent, put in hard work, and who love Arsenal, I wonder if Jenkinson has done enough to relegate Bacary Sagna to a backup role? If I’m consistent then I would have to answer that it depends on how he does in the next three games. He has been outstanding so far this season both defensively and offensively. He still seems to be caught out of position sometimes but so far he’s been able to make up for that with his tackling — which is superb. He also has a great cross and has already notched an assist this season. If he shows up on Sunday against Man City and again against Chelsea, how do you drop him?
I’m curious what you all think, does Sagna’s age and experience mean that he’s an automatic starter? Can Jenkinson ever play his way into a starting spot? If so, when?
Finally, Jenkinson’s play may also be contributing to Theo Walcott’s lack of time so far this season. It’s not secret that Jenks and Theo are like fire and oil or water and ice. It’s also no secret that Theo (statistically) has his best games when he’s backed up by Sagna. Theo seems to depend on Sagna to get him the ball in dangerous positions. So much depends upon Bacary Sagna: Theo’s game, Szczesny’s distribution…
It’s going to be a beautiful headache for Arsene when Sagna is healthy.
Right, that’s it for today. Tomorrow.