Bleugh. International friendly weekend. The most pointless of all weekends. Can’t be dealing with it. So I think I’ll just not. There are plenty of other things out there to focus on. Like finding out a way to filter out people who constantly sniff on the tube. Or conclusively solving the issue of the constantly moving tarpaulin over my garden furniture. Every morning when I get up it’s lifted itself into the exact same position and no matter how many slates I put over the corners to weigh down, it still moves.
Perhaps I should just hire Troy Deeney to sit on it all night. It’ll never move then.
The only saving grace about tonight’s game is that it’s in Holland, meaning I don’t have to concern myself with stupid, drunk, annoying England fans on my commute home past Wembley. I don’t know why but England fans come across as more stupid and more annoying than even those Tiny Totts.
The only real Arsenal noises seem to revolve around Jack Wilshere at the moment though. Sadly for him he’s missing tonight’s game with a minor knee injury but by the sounds of it it’s temporary and I suspect he’ll start on Tuesday against <insert name of international team England are playing, because I don’t care and won’t bother to look it up, here> but that’s not really of much concern to me. We don’t play until next Sunday and as long as he’s fit for that then it’s a-ok for me.
What is a slight worry and probably also the first signals of Jack’s exit from the club is the interview he’s given about discussions that took place last summer.
It’s interesting because the club will monitor all media duties by their players and in times gone past you just haven’t seen this kind of candour from players. But the fact the club will have clearly sanctioned this interview to take place, only lead me to get more conclusions that everything feels like it’s unravelling a little bit, because I can’t imagine an all-powerful Arsène in full control allowing a player to show his hand like he has.
Jack conceding that he was a bit hurt by Wenger telling him he could go feels like his first tentative steps towards telling the fans he’s off. After all if you’re 100% happy at the club and about to sign a new deal you take the approach Özil did. Keep schtum, no PR that could have the public guessing which we this could go, then a nice pic of you signing a ceremonial piece of paper.
I think Jack has had enough and this season has been about showing the world he can still do it in the Premier League. But the question is: can he still do it at the top of the Premier League?
That’s obviously what Arsenal are asking and it’s why I can kind of see how the stalemate has been reached. Jack could sign a mega deal today and then get injured on international duty and we don’t see him until March next year. By that time fans will be talking about ‘same old Arsenal mollycoddling players and not doing the difficult thing and releasing them’. It’ll be the same stick used to beat the club – coming out of retirement – that people (including me at times I must admit) used in the Diaby situation.
The thing is though, Jack has something missing since he returned and we all see it, right? It’s that extra yard of pace, that mobility which has gone and that speed over five yards. He looks heavier on his feet than he used to and whilst I accept in the current team they’re all underperforming, he has also not really given us that spark that we were all hopeful for.
Desperate for even. I’d love Jack to get back to his best and do it for us in the coming weeks, leading Arsenal to up his offer and we keep him for another four years at least, but I don’t think that’ll happen. There’s still time this season and maybe being in the England squad will provide him with more motivation and help him to build his confidence more. That’s what we’re all hoping. But I’ve seen plenty of people pick out the things in his game a few months back that I wasn’t seeing through my own blind faith and now I worry that we’ll never see the great prospect realised that we’d all hoped for ten year’s ago.
That will be a shame. Injuries and stupid tackles from people like McNair have curtailed a career that could have been Gerrardesque I believe. But that tends to happen with Arsenal players sometimes.
What does need to happen if Jack does leave, is that we don’t just replace like-for-like. We need somebody who has the engine to move around the pitch, cover space, distribute and also screen in front of the midfield. We don’t need another small and nippy midfielder who travels with the ball at his feet.
Perhaps that’s why the club aren’t moving heaven and earth to tie Jack down? Perhaps – shock horror – there’s actually a plan for the structure of the team. That’s what we have to hope for anyway. We’re losing a player we all love, the last thing we need is another Yaya Sanogo-style experiment.
Wherever Jack goes after this season though, we’ll all have found memories of him, as an Arsenal lad and wish him the best.
Catch y’all tomorrow.