Tag Archives: Jack Wilshere

Man at the match; Chary: Arsenal sign off with flourish as Spuds implode

An Olly Giroud hatrick in the last Premier League fixture of the season, allied to a inexplicably hilarious Spurs implosion 200 miles further north east, meant the Arsenal finished the season in second place with the downward trajectory of the club’s morale arrested.

The sun shone on Ashburton Grove as I took my place in the West stand lower, an alternative to my usual location in the North Bank lower. Given that the crowd mood in the last two home games was as welcoming as a Hamas council of war I felt avoiding the more enthusiastic parts of the stadium may be a more prudent option especially if the match situation went against us.

Taking into account our spluttering recent form even a fixture against already relegated Birmingham Villa could give cause for a degree of trepidation.

The team selection was only surprising in midfield as Santi and Jack both started, at the expense of Elneny and Rambo with Õzzy returning in place of Iwobi. The exclusion of Theo from the squad was a little surprising and that of Rosický a little sad, although there would be more on that later, yet there were songs for him being sung from the start.

The crowd mood was not especially tense yet an early goal would settle the nerves, which is how it panned out.

After some good early pressing, with Santi involved centrally and Jack on the right, a cross was swung in on the opposite side of the pitch from me and Olly hung in the air to thump in a free header; the fact the Villa centre backs were nowhere near him suggested a team with their minds on holidays and then the joys of Championship football.

A good start  - Olly scores early

A good start – Olly scores early

The reaction of the away fans was odd, an enthusiastic celebration of a goal scored against them was either gallows humour or them mocking the Arsenal fans for having the temerity to celebrate their team scoring a goal.

As a counter thrust Birmingham Villa did attack our weaker right flank, where the pairing of Bellerin and Gabriel was more porous than Nacho and Kozzer.

This gave the manager, ever pensive during a game, some cause for worry.

The loneliness of the long distance manager

The loneliness of the long distance manager

However having held firm all was going to plan, but as we all knew a win for the Newcastle barcodes was necessary to avoid the cancellation of St Totteringham’s day.

I should point out now that for the first time in my match going life (over 50 games by now) I was at a match where the crowd would suddenly cheer for no pitch-action related reason so what happened midway through the first half was that the North bank to my left exploded into noise and cheering. Mutterings around me were of Newcastle taking the lead and as the news spread along the West stand down to the Clock end the first (IHA) chants were heard:

It’s happened again, it’s happened agaaaaa-in,
Tottenham Hotspur, it’s happened again

Rambo and Joel Campbell, who were warming up in front of me looked at each other and knew what it meant for the team – if things stayed as they were 2nd place and the denial of a the Spuds finishing above us for the first time in 21 years.

A second goal before half time would have settled any nerves but, as a portent of what was to follow, Newcastle scored again and another roar from the North bank signalled this to the rest of us.

Half time saw a pitch side interview with Bobby Pires looking as suave and dashing as when he glided down the left wing at Highbury for us.

The start of the second half showed that every team des their homework on us in that they know we start the second half slowly and so Villa pressed and dominated for a 15 minute spell; Bellerin’s tendency to maraud up field coupled with Gabriel being turned rather too easily meant that most of the Villa attacks came down our right.

A low buzz swept the lower tiers as news of a Spud goal and a Newcastle sending off turned up the tension a little, but the mood stayed mainly supportive despise some Alexis turnovers and misplaced crosses.
Then another roar from the North bank lower and news of Newcastle scoring a third and the IHA shouts started again.

What happened next was something wonderful – the “Stand up if you hate Tottenham” started, the North Bank of course, but unusually everyone joined in, even the West and East stand so the players would see a wall of standing, singing fans.

I’m sure I saw Õzzy look up after a finished dribble and wonder what was going on – but the thing was the urgency level of the team upped as the crowd volume rose with more IHA’s.

Some slick interplay in front of me, on the right side of Villa’s penalty area, highlighted Õzzy’s amazing close control – while this won’t be news to many to see it up close will always be a joy.

Further probing, a one-two with Alexis, and Õzzy swung in a cross and then time slowed. It seemed to take an age for Olly’s left boot to swing, scythe like, in a low, slow arc and slice the ball up and over the flapping Villa goalie.

The relief of the second goal

The relief of the second goal

A release of the tension that built up from the resumption exploded in all corners of the stadium, and your humble scribe indulged in many a heaven ward directed fist pump.

Newcastle scored another as more IHA’s were ringing around the stadium and then more comedy when a pitch invader emerged from the red Action corner and caused an Arsenal attack to be halted as he was wrestled to the ground by a steward, the other stewards eye rolling their disapproval of the loutish behaviour.

The fervour of the crowd pushed the team on to attack more and surely enough one of Bellerin’s many forward dribbles allowed him to thread a ball though for Olly to, again with his swinging mace of a left foot, slot home his hat trick goal. A flurry of four goals in two games ending his career worst goal drought.

Hat trick complete

Hat trick complete

With the game won Jack was subbed and was Santi with Õzzy making way for Arteta to make a farewell appearance.

There was a touch of Hollywood about his only involvement in him crashing in a shot after being set up by an Alexis cross – the way he leapt in celebration must showing what this club meant to him. Of course it was marked as an own goal yet the euphoria he felt in that moment in time can’t be taken away from him, he’ll cherish that for the rest of his days.

The release of emotion he showed at the final whistle attested to that.

Leaving Arsenal

Leaving Arsenal

A satisfying 4 nil win, a share of the golden glove for Cech (at the very least) and second place snatched from the hands of the hapless Middlesex Spuds – something we all wished for before the game, but seemed unlikely.
The many mocking Tottenham songs sang at the final whistle reinforced the feel good factor washing around, something scarcely believable after the happenings of the Norwich game.

A guard of honour was formed for another departing stalwart of the club, Tomas Rosický and then the lap of appreciation.

Long serving Tomas honoured

Long serving Tomas honoured

After the lap finished there were a few requests for “Wilshere, Wilshere, sing us a song” and then the players off spring played on the pitch, Santi’s son looking particularly useful with his tricks and flicks.

We missed you Santi

We missed you Santi

Rosický's farewell to the North Bank

Rosický’s farewell to the North Bank

A captain&#039 leaves

A captain leaves

While the season has been a disappointment the events of the last day meant the Arsenal faithful did not start their summer in melt down but with some hope for next season.

See you all then.


By ChärybdÏß1966 (on Twitter @charybdis1966)

Players need to sue to stop tackles like the one that broke Luke Shaw’s leg

Here’s the article I’d much rather be writing this morning: Arsenal face a tough test in Zagreb to kick off their 16th consecutive Champions League campaign . But events yesterday forced my hand and now here I am writing about yet another young player who had his leg broken playing football.

When I woke up yesterday the news was starting to spread that Jack Wilshere required surgery to fix a hairline fracture in his “good” ankle. This was the ankle which was nearly broken last year by a poorly timed and aggressive challenge by Manchester United defender Paddy McNair.

Football fans on Twitter reacted to the news in typical fashion, “taking the mickey” and calling Jack Wilshere, Jack Wheelchair. The hashtag trended enough to make the Independent report on it and that means that fans of all clubs (including Arsenal) participated.

It’s an unedifying sight to see football fans act like this and I’m sure the vast majority of the people who love the game would agree with me that people who laugh at player injuries are the human equivalent of that guy from Karate Kid who yells out “get him a body bag”. This behavior masquerades as “club tribalism” and to a certain extent that’s true. Because just a few hours later, the same Man United fans who were mocking Wilshere’s injury were sending out heartfelt “prayers” for their player, Luke Shaw.

For those who don’t know, Luke Shaw, Man United fullback, had his leg broken by an absurd tackle made by PSV’s Hector Moreno in last night’s Champions League opening match between the two teams. It was the 15th minute of the game and Shaw was dribbling into the box, he split his markers, and Moreno, seeing the danger, slid in recklessly and with his trailing leg snapped Shaw’s standing leg in two.

Incredibly, the referee didn’t even call a foul on the play and this, for me, is the real failure.

This isn’t Moreno’s first ride, folks. He broke his own leg making the exact same type of tackle on Arjen Robben at the 2014 Brazil World Cup (en Español). And he made the exact same type of tackle on Ashley Young, in the very game he broke Luke Shaw’s leg:

Football has made progress on tackling down the years. The tackle from behind was outlawed, the two-footed tackle was outlawed, stud’s-up tackles were outlawed, and high tackling has been outlawed. But what still isn’t illegal are the scissors tackle and the idea that the amount of force used is irrelevant as long as the defender wins the ball.

The scissors tackle is what it looks like Moreno did. He lunged at the ball with one leg and followed through with his trailing leg. This trailing leg tackle is never going to win a ball and is always only going to take a player down. It also requires that the defender goes THROUGH the man, this means that by definition, the defender must use enough force to break a standing leg. The defender cannot complete this tackle without using enough force to break his opponent’s leg. It’s just not physically possible.

According to the current laws of the game, this tackle should be outlawed: by going through the man the defender uses excessive force to win the ball. That is and always should be a red card.

But oddly, it’s not seen as a red card offense. Not only did the referee (and his various and sundry assistants) not see a foul, but UEFA ruled out using replays to retroactively punish Moreno.

This is where the players need to step in and do something about the laws of the game. I think the players need to sue FIFA, UEFA, and the Premier League and force them to do something about player safety. The players in the NFL did just that and forced the NFL to change their rules in order to limit concussions . Concussions in the NFL are far more numerous than broken legs in football but the very types of tackles and formations that were most likely to produce concussions were outlawed.

I’m not suggesting that the NFL fixed their concussion problems after the lawsuit and I don’t think that Football players suing FIFA, UEFA, and the Premier League will prevent all future broken legs. But it’s very clear that the laws of the game are there to protect players from exactly the kind of tackle that broke Luke Shaw’s leg. And it’s also clear that UEFA, FIFA, and the Premier League are refusing to use retroactive punishment and video punishment in order to penalize players like Moreno who commit these acts of violence and thus to reduce the number of these tackles in the future.

It’s going to take a career ending injury and a player who is brave enough to sue to change these rules and truly protect these players. Until then, unless FIFA, UEFA, and the Premier League choose to crack down on these plays, we will see more broken legs, more players in wheelchairs, and more young careers threatened.



Jack out as Arsenal pack bags for Croatia

Good morning and welcome to a more informal blog. Arsenal play Dinamo Zagreb in the Champions League tomorrow and there are a number of stories which I’d like to offer for discussion.

First, though, a quick revisit to yesterday’s post. I was pondering Arsenal’s amazing shots created record and it struck me that the player who is missing the most shots is Alexis. Alexis has missed 28 times this season and not scored once. That’s 25% of the team’s total shots and not a single goal. I don’t say that as a criticism but rather mean it in the way that if there was any one player on this Arsenal team who I trust to have a decent year finishing it’s Alexis Sanchez.

What’s funny about me saying that is that my criticism of the Suarez deal a few years ago was that Suarez was wasteful and a ball hog. But while I criticized his wastefulness I also recognized that Suarez put a lot of work on the field, dribbling, shooting, and creating for teammates. And since buying Alexis I’ve often said that Wenger got Sanchez because he wanted a Suarez type player on the team. Well, it looks like we got him — minus any of the drama — to a tee, right down to him turning the ball over (and frustrating people, as I predicted) and taking a ton of shots.

It’s totally faith-based but I believe in Sanchez and him coming through for the team. He’s an incredibly hard working player and sport usually rewards hard work.

The one thing that is sticking in my craw (where is the craw?) is that we can’t seem to get Alexis a rest. There are very few suitable players at Arsenal who can play in his position without a wholesale change to the lineup. Generally speaking you don’t want to radically alter your lineup if you can avoid it.

But with Wilshere now out for 6 months who can play on the left without changing the entire team structure? I know that some folks want to try Alexis through the middle and that has some merit, I suggested it myself a while back. But to accommodate that shift, Arsene needs to play Ox on the left. If he wanted to keep everything the same, that would be the least disruptive change. There are signs that Wenger’s contemplating that move as well: Ox got to play on the left when he came on against Stoke.

The other option is to rest Alexis and play Ox. I know he won’t like it but Arsenal are playing Dinamo Zagreb here and we should have the firepower in the team to beat them without Alexis, or with a brief cameo at the end of the match. Resting him for the weekend match seems like the smart thing to do.

Chelsea will be resting players, I guarantee. They are playing Maccabi Tel Aviv at Stamford bridge and there are already press reports that indicate Mourinho making a number of changes to his team. It would be good for Arsenal to get some rest as well. Especially for Arsenal to rest Alexis. That poor guy has been running non-stop for two years.

For those of you wanting Naveen to do the pre-match analysis, that won’t be happening. As I said last year, Naveen is in school and doesn’t have time to do the match previews like last season. It’s a huge credit to him that he generated dedicated followers but at the same time he is a young man who needs to focus on his studies.

My match preview is somewhat more relaxed and I’ll publish that tomorrow.

And finally, the Wilshere story is, predictably, bringing out the hang-wringing. For some reason, when I saw that story I was completely unfazed. I guess I just see Wilshere as a third choice player in Arsenal’s midfield. He is sort of creative but is not really a direct replacement Ozil because he doesn’t create enough nor does he move enough, he doesn’t seem to be able to play the Cazorla role in CM, and he’s absolutely not a DM (no matter how much I wish he was or how many times he wins MotM for England), so the only place I see him playing is on the left and even then I’d put him behind Ox because Ox is match fit.

The other thing I thought when I saw that he would be out for another six months is “Diaby”. I was  in the stands at Swansea when fans rained down abuse on Diaby. Same with the trip to Anfield when Diaby was subbed on and then subbed off. Somehow Jack has escaped all of this calumny which is good.

But the Diaby comparison is correct in that because he’s spent so much time recovering from various surgeries he’s never been able to grow as a player and frankly, Jack needs to grow as a player. He’s still playing the same way as he has been for years, too many dribbles, and poor dribbling at that, and not enough passing and movement.

I like Jack for his desire to get forward but he lacks the close control that a truly great dribbler has. Instead, he often seems to dribble too far ahead of himself and then sprints to catch up. It’s when he sort of loses control of the ball that the opposition seems to clatter him. To be clear, no one has a right to clatter another player and I still blame Paddy McNair for the injury Jack received last season. But if I was Jack Wilshere, I might consider changing my game a bit.

Not Jack, just this summer, Jack ruled out a change of style. That is, of course, his prerogative but as of right now, I have to think that another 6 month layoff is a huge setback to a young career which is already been ravaged by injury. I don’t know. How many players have we seen ruined at Arsenal because of horrific challenges? Diaby, Wilshere, Eduardo… It seems like fantastic thinking to wish that the Premier League would protect its players by calling fouls and issuing red cards. You don’t have to dribble straight at the Paddy McNair’s of the world — especially if you’re not as good at it as you think you are. I just think he would benefit from less dribbling and more passing: in fact, Jack’s most memorable goals have come from passing moves, not dribbling moves.

Right, we’ll leave it there. Now you can say “Arsenal should have bought” and “the medical staff are a disaster” or “they should have told us earlier” and “I demand a full investigation into this!” But before you lay into the medical staff, remember that when Jack scored against West Brom, he went over and thanked Shad Forsythe.