Tag Archives: Jack Wilshere

Öoops Özzy

Man at the Match, Chary: Jack gets the job done

A goal in each half, from a Jack Wilshere in smoking hot form, meant the Arsenal finished their work for the evening on top of their Champions League group although not quite guaranteed qualification into the next round.

Many of the Ashburton Grove faithful had barely settled into their seats (yours truly included) when the first home attack of the night caught the French team napping. I was seated in the lower tier behind the goal in the clock end and had a close up view of Jack opening his body and curling the quick fire first goal beyond the flailing keeper. Were Marseille Totn**b in disguise as they conceded so quick?

Are you Totn**mb in disguise?

“Are you Totn**mb in disguise?”

Any hopes of an upset in the away end seemed to die right there and while they carried on singing pretty much the whole way through, apparently aided by one Joseph Anthony Barton who was in their ranks, there was little sustained interest in how the game was going from the travelling support.

That said it appeared to me that Marseille were very much snapping into tackles, their midfielders seeming to have an elastic/bouncy running and tackling style, and harrying Arsenal in possession with the good guys fighting back to gain possession energetically.

While there was not much of note from the Marseille fans, an ill-advised decision to wear what looked like a team onesie from the Marseille coach caused me much mirth.

Team Onesie

Team Onesie

There was also much laughing at the referee’s wardrobe malfunction accompanied by wolf whistles when he his shirt was being seen to.

Selection wise Monreal for Gibbs while Arteta and Cazorla benched were the only changes with Jack and Flamini replacing them.

The presence of Flamini was the main reason that, in contrast to seasons gone by, a one goal lead was seen as very slender and we would concede a goal to a counter attack. I noticed that straight after an attack had failed or finished our returning ex-Marseille man would wave his arms to his team mates and shout for them to get back to their positions and not dwell on the missed chance.

THAT is the sort of protection he has been giving the back four; think how many times in the past after shot was saved by the opposition the goalie would bowl out the ball and the opposition forwards would run through the middle of the pitch unhindered. Not so much now thanks to Flamini and a more responsible defensive attitude from all midfielders.

This, to my eyes, accounts for the more relaxed attitude of the home crowd with just a goal lead to defend and hence the atmosphere being less fractious than in the past.

So when Özzy had his penalty saved, note not “missed his penalty”, their groans were minimal.

Öoops Özzy

Öoops Özzy

In fact, as the penalty incident was just in front of the block I was in, most of the crowd thought it was outside the area and we had the rare feeling of getting a penalty when none was deserved rather than the familiar rage when we are usually denied stonewall penalties.

Giroud had various chances to double the lead in the first half but the ball didn’t quite sit up for him yet the crowd would still sing his song after a failed shot. His tireless work in the offensive and defensive parts of the field accounts is probably why any of his fluffed shots aren’t followed by groans.

Half time arrived and the crowd happy although wistfully wishing perhaps a few more goals for the good guys would have been nice.

You don't get these at Shite Hart Lane

Half time

With their onesie clad managers words no doubt ringing in their ears the Marseille players seemed to play with more urgency straight after the restart however Arsenal’s slightly more combative tackling approach, I don’t recall ever seeing quite so many sliding tackles from us, gradually eroding away the Olympique de Marseille’s bright start to the second half.

I recall one instance where Tomáš Rosický sprinted across the pitch to dispossess a Marseille midfielder and it was just as well he got the ball as it could have been taken for a lunge otherwise.

With arsenal attacking the end far away from me there was not much action at the Clock end in the second half, except for a few smart saves from Chesney, who seems to be having consistently better games this season.

Another player who had a good game was Nacho man Monreal.

He can defend half the pitch in his own

Lone Nachoman

It’s easy pick out how well he provides width on our left flank for attacks but his goal line clearance to keep a clean sheet, after Chesney’s partial block from a Gignac shot spun up and over the Pole towards the goal, was excellent defensive work.

I could see his eyes follow the arc of the ball, rather like a cricketer in the outfield waiting to catch a lofted shot, as it fell towards the goal so he could volley it clear. All defensive units like a clean sheet and thanks he got from the BFG and Chesney was proof of that.

Özzy seemed to put aside his penalty mishap and pull the strings more in midfield leading to his part in Jack’s second goal. Yes, he is having a little dip in form but still his importance the team cannot be underestimated, every team shudders a but when they see him prowling the midfield, and opposition supporters fear him.

In my previous game, the Capitol One Cup game versus Chelsea, the obnoxious Chelsea fans stopped their vile chanting when Özzy came on as a sub and seemed to be caught by surprise.

Arsenal bringing on a superstar? No, they can’t do that. (That game may have been lost but the Chelsea crowd reaction was something I’d not seen before and worth pointing out).

As the game wound down Theo and Santi came on for Jack and Rosický while after Marseille had already brought on Valbuena and Thauvin.

The new defensive responsibility was further exemplified by Santi tussling to get the ball off Valbuena; the sight of those two sprinting for the loose ball looked like Sports day at Oompah Loompah school.

The game petered out and the crowd were happy at full time with the result with confusion over whether the Dortmund- Napoli result, when it was read out, was good or bad news.

However all agreed Mourinho’s Chavs defeat at the hands of Basel was hilarious.

Onwards and upwards, UTA !

By ChärybdÏß1966 (on Twitter @charybdis1966)

Wilshere

Wilshere smokes one to send Arsenal back to the top

In the end, only one thing matters; Arsenal are back on top of the Premier League and Jack Wilshere scored the tying goal after spending the entire match being kicked around by the West Brom midfield. Ok, that’s two things. Those two things, plus the fact that Arsenal showed great spirit to fight back for the first time this season and get a goal on a stalwart opponent who were aided by a crazy referee. Those four things are all that matter.

Arsenal have been great this year at getting off to a fast start and then absorbing pressure. So, naturally, my fear before the game was that Arsenal would get off to sluggish start, have West Brom score first, and have to play catch up. Which is exactly what happened.

West Brom were organized but didn’t have to really even hold on much in the first half as Arsenal took a lazy approach to the match. Arsenal only forced West Brom into 6 clearances in the first half, compared to 17 in the second half. Moreover, the Gunners’ bread and butter this season has been to shoot from inside the box but in that first half five of their six shots were from distance. Albion kept Arsenal at bay.

But Arsenal have played against teams who deploy this tactic so many times that I’ve lost count. And we all know what Arsenal need in games like that, someone with close control who can dribble and cause panic in the defensive lines. With Cazorla out, that person is usually Jack Wilshere but last night he was hampered by a referee who allowed perfidious Albion to kick Jack off the pitch without calling a foul.

I know it is fashionable to have a go at Wilshere for his performance, at least it was on twitter yesterday, but it’s impossible to play when the opposition is allowed to kick you time and again. Lee Mason only called one foul on Albion against Wilshere. That was early in the match as well. After that foul West Brom were allowed to hip check, obstruct, push him down from behind, nearly break his eye socket, tackle his ankle, and tackle him from behind with no calls.

Yes, Wilshere made a few bad passes (especially the ones in dangerous areas), he also went 0/3 in tackles, and was blown up for three fouls. But I have to think that people’s opinion of Jack’s performance would have been slightly better had he been awarded the two stonewall penalties he deserved.

For the first, Wilshere is played in by Giroud, pushes the ball around Billy Jones and is deep in the box when Jones makes a lunging late tackle on his ankle (4:15). In seeing that tackle again, in slow motion, Jack’s ankle folded over and I thought for sure it was his ankle done. But clearly Wilshere’s ankles are nigh invulnerable.

For the second, though, I think that maybe I’m unclear about the rules of football. Let’s have a second of clarification. If Jack Wilshere goes through Cladio Yacob and wins the ball with a tackle from behind, it’s a yellow card. Right? Because the tackle from behind is dangerous and whether you win the ball or not is irrelevant. Which is what Lee Mason called. Mason gave Wilshere a yellow card because in order to win the ball he had to go through Yacob’s legs. But then the same rule should apply to when Mulumbu makes a flying tackle from behind and takes out Jack’s standing leg, right? That’s not what Mason called.

So, while I agree that Wilshere wasn’t on his best form at all times yesterday, he was certainly the most threatening player, he got into two great scoring positions and was denied scoring opportunities because an Albion player fouled him and referee Lee Mason refused to make the correct call.

And the best part is that despite all those poor calls, and the constant fouling, Wilshere still scored the tying goal. His technique perfect on the volley that saved Arsenal blushes.

We had to know that Arsenal wouldn’t go the whole season scoring the first goal and getting goals in the first half of games. So, the question then, would be how Arsenal would cope with the pressure of being behind. The answer isn’t definitive yet.

Arsenal didn’t seem to cope well with that pressure at first. The start of the second half was just as gutless for Arsenal as the start of the first. Pushing far too high up the pitch, Arsenal were caught with their pants down as Anelka sprinted into the acres of space left by Jenkinson. If Anelka were a 1/10th the player he used to be he probably would have curled home his shot but as it was it went just wide.

Giroud also had a clear cut chance go begging. Wilshere played an amazing long pass to him, and the big Frenchman cut across goal and tried to get an angle on the keeper but Myhill kept his head and got the save.

In fact, both keepers did well yesterday. Szczesny had an amazing save early in the match off a deflected shot and collected most crosses well, despite being fouled in the air on more than one occasion.

In the end, though, Arsenal did well to overcome a stalwart opposition and get a point out of a game in which it really looked like Arsenal were going to get Jack Squat. They had to dig deep and they did. Especially Jack.

Questions:

Why did Bendtner come on? I seriously don’t understand that substitution. Rosicky for Ramsey made sense, Rosicky not only set up the goal, it was his throbbing play in Albion’s box that nearly got Arsenal the whole load of points. But Bendtner? He lost two headers and made two passes. Uhh.. ok. And Giroud sprinted off the pitch, he wasn’t injured or tired. Just a curious substitution.

Also, why can’t someone have a word with Arteta and tell him it’s his job to protect the creative players? Flamini picked up a yellow in the 22nd minute and I have to think that part of the reason Albion got away with so much on Wilshere was because Flamini couldn’t kick back. This will happen again, Arteta needs to step up and put in some crunching tackles on Mulumbu, Yacob, and that guy Billy next time.

What position was Jenkinson actually playing? I ask because I only ever saw him running into the center back spot or dicking around in the Albion box. There was a moment when Koscielny was playing right back because Jenkinson was all over the shop. Terrible game from him, hopefully they do some drills during international break, like tie him to the corner flag or something.

Qq

James_Dean

Jack Wilshere is sssssssmokin’

You see them huddled outside nightclubs anywhere in the world on any Thursday night: muscular young men, angular faces, perfectly cropped little beards, sporting tight-fitting sweaters and $300 designer jeans, smoking cigarettes with a young blonde — and texting. We call these people “young men out for a night on the town” and they are not normally cause for alarm but when that young man holds the future of England in his hands and he’s caught with one hand about to pull a Camus Drag, well, then the only rational response is outrage.

smoking

That’s right, Arsenal and England saviour Jack Wilshere was captured by one of the heaving masses with one of their cell-phone cameras having a cheeky smoke outside a nightclub on a Thursday night. The future of England, the future of Arsenal, caught going up in smoke.

Arsene Wenger was asked what he thought of Wilshere smoking and he said

I disagree completely with that behavior. There are two things: first of all when you are a football player you are an example and as well you don’t do what damages your health. The fact is that you can damage your health at home, you can smoke at home and you can drink at home, and nobody sees it, but when you go out socially you as well damage your reputation as an example.

As usual, Wenger is spot on. We don’t know what Wilshere does at home, though we have some idea now that he’s had his second child*. He could get home from work every night, head down to his “Man Cave” festooned with neon beer lights and giant peel-and-stick posters of liquor, pour himself a Scotch and smoke Camel barebacks in his private bar for all we know.

But God I hope not. That would be more depressing than him sneaking a fag after a late night of boozing it up. Which is Wenger’s point about damaging your reputation, I think: if you’re going to have a smoke, at least do it in some style. I mean, now days you can’t smoke in the bars in England so you’re out on the street, everyone has a cell phone camera, they all know who you are and they are going to take a picture which will get out to every media outlet in the world and every pundit is going to weigh in with his/her opinion, so make it look cool. 

Take Wayne Rooney here as an example:

2Z6SC8RVHT_rooney_smokingRooney is not looking too cool with his impression of Bitter Beer Face. I’ve seen guys smoke like this outside of the bar on a Friday night and I’m here to tell you, you can’t be cool when you’re nervously wolfing down a smoke. Be a man about it, Roo, you’re a smoker, it’s not a crime (yet), take your time, enjoy that cancer stick like it’s your last one. Who knows, it could be!

Now here’s a guy who knows what he’s doing with a fat brown cylinder in his mouth, Diego Maradonna.

Maradonna-smoking

You want to know how to smoke, Rooney? That’s the image right there: just close your eyes and suck.

I will admit, it gets worse than Rooney, here’s Zidane.

zinedine-zidane1

When I first heard that Zidane smoked I imagined that he was the world’s greatest smoker. A man who could be at a suave dinner party, whip out a Gauloises and light it with one motion. And when the hostess comes over to ask him to put his cigarette out he would shoot her a withering glance, followed by a wry smile and coolly extinguish the butt without leaving a trace.

But in reality he smokes very much like an American actor playing a French man smoking a cigarette: it’s all finger tips and “uh huh huh! OUI!” He’s at a cafe having a cigarette; he couldn’t be more French if he wore a beret and had a baguette under his arm. In fact, the way he smokes makes me wonder if he didn’t head butt Materazzi because he was having a nic-fit.

This is behavior unbecoming a sportsman of Zidane’s stature. I mean, even Mesut Özil looks more comfortable smoking a cigarette, on a boat – surrounded by well-oiled young men, than Zidane.

Ozil

It’s all about owning the look or as the French would say, “being comfortable in your own skin”. And no one is more comfortable in their own skin than Dimitar Berbatov. In fact, Berbatov is so comfortable in his own skin that he’s also comfortable in other people’s skin.

berbatov-ciggBerbatov, cigarette dangling from his lips, casts a look at the ground, pensive, and conflicted. He is a living sculpture. He is Rodin’s Thinker at the Gates of Hell, Berbatov at Heathrow Terminal 5.

I see that the Daily Mail (formed as it was by Viscount Voldemort, a known Nazi sympathizer) and all the bein-pensant journalists in England have taken the stance that smoking isn’t cool and are splashing their red-tops with the headline that Wenger has dished out some kind of public lashing for our young Wilshere. But I don’t see it that way.

I’m with Wenger on this one. You can damage your image not with the smoking, but how you smoke.. You could look, for example, like Mario Ballotelli.

balotelli_display_image

 

Decked out in gaudy jewelry, hanging out on the balcony like some bespectacled grandma smoking a cigarette is no way for a popular young man to act. Especially, not with so many children looking up to him.

No, the way Wilshere handles that cigarette, leaning on the side of the building, finger poised to grip that fag tightly reminds me of James Dean in his pomp. And Dean owned his smoking as much as it owned him.

James_Dean

Which is surely the point. It’s all about image or as James Dean famously put it “Dream as if you’ll live forever. Live as if you’ll die today.”

In other words, you shouldn’t smoke because smoking will kill you in the long run; but if you are going to smoke, at least be cool about it.

Qq

*You nerds will be interested in this. Both of Wilshere’s children were born in late September, Archie on the 29th and Delilah on the 26th. This makes both children Libras and given the coincidence of their birth dates I used a backwards gestation calculator (which is what freaky people use to calculate what days they should have sex on to try to force a baby on a certain date) and as it turns out, both children were probably conceived on or about January 1st. That’s Jack Wilshere’s birthday, just FYI.