So apparently there was an England game on last night. I didn’t pay any attention to it if I’m honest, as I was at a comedy club in Bethnal Green, but Wilshere got some more minutes on his belt and I’ve seen the online media give a wide-ranging synopsis of Jack’s performance, from ‘uninspiring’ to ‘some flashes of good’. I don’t know that anybody should be expecting anything other than what they’re getting with Jack right now. He’s building up his fitness and he probably needs another three games before he really starts to show the kind of form we know he can produce.
The trouble for England is that they’ll be in mid tournament by then, so Roy has some decisions to make, because you can’t be an international football team and be bedding players in at an international tournament. That’s just bonkers. But if the other options are players like Jordan Henderson or James Milner, you can kind of see why Woy is so desperate for Jack to make up the fitness.
In Arsenal land, the club confirmed that Xhaka would take Ramsey’s old number 16, in the latest bit of news-which-probably-shouldn’t-be-news-but-we-are-all-so-football-starved-that-we-click-on-anything-vaguely-interesting information fed via the club. Speculation that there would be a duel between the two defensive midfielders was clearly just that and Xhaka will just have to etch the tattoo off his back with the 34 on it and get it painted over with a 16.
Iwobi gets a shirt change too, taking Alexis’ old number 17, which you’d have to call a move to represent his growing importance he has on the squad as a whole. Makes sense and I’m sure it’s a boost for him following in Alexis’ footstpes. I’m hoping for big things for him next season.
Normally I couldn’t give a monkey’s about squad numbers, but it does give you an odd sense of security when a top player gets a new number, like Alexis going from 17 to 7. In my irrational mind, that clearly means that he’s got a better chance of sticking around, because why would the club give him that number anyway, if he was going to be offloaded? It’s why I’m hoping the club give an announcement on a change in Bellerin’s number too. After it emerged that Dani Alves is being shipped off a year early to Juventus, the inevitable Catalan media outlets decided that it is time for a bit of ‘DNA’ talking up by declaring that Hector Bellerin is number one choice to replace him this summer. He’s already come out and said that he’s happy in England, that he is happy at Arsenal, his family and his girlfriend are all here, so why would he fashion a move? All the same though, we’ve been burned by Barcelona too many times, so any kind of symbolic gesture of his long-term future, like a new shirt number which is rumoured to be number 2, would go a long way to allaying my fears that this smattering of a rumour won’t gather pace.
I guess the good thing in this instance is that Arsenal are holding a tighter control of the cards right now. Hector only signed a new deal last year, he is still very young and he’s still got to establish himself as a true great. He’s been amazing for us this season, but he still makes the odd mistake, which is fine when you’re 21. He still has some growing to do and he seems like he’s got a sensible head on his shoulders. Unlike Fabregas, he doesn’t seem like a trouble maker and he also doesn’t seem like a player who would angle for a move. Cesc did all he could to manoeuvre himself his Barca switch, but Hector seems to me a little bit more like a player who would think a little bit more about the consequences. Fabregas got his switch, he failed miserably to become the legend he thought he would be at Barca, and now he’s at a club which has no soul and is, quite frankly, an abomination of a football team. Life doesn’t always work out how you think and Hector would be wise to consider that if that lot come calling with their ‘DNA’ rubbish.