The news that Jack Wilshere has been called up to the England squad for their friendly against Sweden will no doubt delight Gooners eager to see the Arsenal youngster develop into the national side’s main midfielder, but we should be cautious of what to expect from him next week.
Wilshere, who has five England caps already, is still recovering match fitness after his season-long spell on the sidelines and it will take him time to become the player he was two years ago. He has made just three appearances this season and has not looked his usual sharp self in any of the games.
Against QPR two weeks ago, Wilshere settled back into the first team and lasted just over an hour. Due to our lack of midfield depth Arsene Wenger chose to play him in the Manchester United clash at Old Trafford and, although he played reasonably well, that lack of sharpness led to an uncharacteristic loss of possession and his subsequent second yellow card.
He handled himself well against Schalke and it looks like a partnership with Mikel Arteta will soon develop, but it is still far too soon to place such high expectations on him. Fourteen months out is a long spell for a player so young and hopefully Roy Hodgson will realise this and give him 45 minutes, nothing more.
If you listen to just one Football Tipthen it is not to expect too much when (or even if) he pulls on an England shirt next week. Wilshere will probably partner Steven Gerrard or Tom Cleverley in the centre of the park and it will be interesting to see how he copes with a more direct style of football than he’s used to at the Emirates.
No matter how he plays, however, Wilshere should not be judged on this one game alone; this is a rebuilding season for the player and the England experience next week should be a chance just to get settled again.
Below I have embedded some short highlights of England’s 5-0 win over San Marino at Wembley Stadium. Wayne Rooney and Danny Welbeck each scored a brace as England retained the top-spot in their World Cup 2014 qualifying group. The match provided a mixture of good and bad news for Arsenal fans, with Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain both grabbing headlines for very different reasons.
Theo Walcott will spend the night in hospital following what Roy Hodgson described in his post-match press conference as a “very fierce challenge”. Walcott was brought down in the opening 10 minutes by opposing goalkeeper Aldo Simoncini, and was immediately substituted with what looks like a pretty bad chest injury. As Hodgson says, there was no bad intent, but the challenge has definitely had some repercussions. Walcott will undergo x-rays to determine the extent of the damage, but the early indications are that he may have broken a rib.
Theo’s injury could be a big blow for Arsenal as broken ribs can take months to heal fully. Although he has not featured too heavily in the starting line-up so far this season, Walcott has been in pretty good form with 4 goals so far this season.
Roy Hodgson’s comments:
“We have to find out the extent of his injury but he will be in hospital overnight and he will be having a scan.
“It is a chest injury. It didn’t look good and until such time as they have X-rayed it and scanned it I really don’t know.”
The other Arsenal-related news of the night was that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain scored his first senior international goal, and England’s 5th of the evening. The ball dropped to him in the middle of the box and this was swiftly followed with a tidy first-time finish into the top corner. AOC’s goal can be seen from around 2:40 in the video.
Unless you have been living under a rock for the last few days, you will be well aware that there is a somewhat important game between England and Italy taking place in Kiev in just under an hours time.
The chances are that tonight’s game will go to extra time and (probably) penalties. The USSR are apparently the last team to beat the Azzurri in the knock-out stage of an international tournament in normal time all the way back in the semi-finals of Euro 88. The Italians are naturally a very defensive side, while Roy Hodgson’s teams are hardly ever particularly adventurous. Do not expect a fast-paced, end-to-end match, but rather a slow game that doesn’t really live up to expectations (a bit like last night’s game between Spain and France).
The Italians may boast a pretty good record in the World Cup (they have won it 4 times, second only to Brazil on 5), but Cesar Prandelli’s side have only won the Euros once, when they hosted it in 1968. The good news is that Italy do not have a particularly good record in penalty shootouts; they lost to Spain on penalties at the same stage in the competition 4 years ago. The bad news is that England do not have a particularly good record in penalty shootouts. England have won only 1 of their last 6 penalty shoot-outs at major tournaments, against Spain in the quarter-finals of Euro 96. This means that if this match goes to penalties, we just have to hope that England are the least worst penalty takers.
Arsenal are not likely to be well-represented in tonight’s game as Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain both look set to miss out on a place in the starting line-up. According to Sky Sports, there will be no changes from the starting XI that faced the Ukraine last week. However, the chances are that one of them (more likely Theo) will make an appearances as a substitute, just when Italy are starting to get tired and will make a few silly mistakes.
England’s record at the quarter-finals of international tournaments is abismal, having lost 7 of 10 matches at this stage in the Euros and World Cup. In contrast, Italy have only lost 2 of 9 at the same stage. That said, Giorgio Chiellini’s injury will no doubt have a big impact on the Italians. Chiellini is without a doubt the most experienced defender in their squad. His replacement, Leonardo Bonucci of Juventus, has not had much game-time, while the two full-backs (Federico Balzaretti and Ignazio Abate) have only made a combined total of 12 international appearances. Then again, they do have one of the world’s best goalkeepers… I was very surprised last week to learn that Buffon is only 34 years old. I guess that a lot of people presume that he is much older because he seems to have been around for ages.
Against my better judgement, my money tonight is on England. This is simply because I think that it is written that we will be knocked out by Germany in the semi-finals. This is, of course, is provided that Super Mario (who is apparently set to replace Di Natale) doesn’t have a good game…
Tomas Rosicky and Theo Walcott are both major doubts for crucial Euro 2012 matches against Portugal and Ukraine respectively.
Rosicky missed the Czech Republic’s 1-0 win over Poland with an achilles injury and it is looking increasingly unlikely that he will be able to feature in the quarter-final on Thursday evening.
Czech coach Michal Bilik described Tomas as “irreplaceable”, but was happy with the performance of replacement midfielder Daniel Kolar against Poland.
“It’s difficult to say we have Rosicky. We all know he’s irreplaceable.
“He tried [to see if he was ok] before the match [against Poland] and he couldn’t start, but Daniel Kolar played a great match.”
Theo Walcott limped off during England’s training session on Sunday with a hamstring injury. It is thought to be a recurrence of the injury which kept him out for extended periods of the season with Arsenal. Although unlikely to start, Walcott was Roy Hodgson’s big-impact substitute against Sweden and would probably have played half an hour or so against Ukraine.
Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live, Hodgson confirmed that Walcott was taken off during training as a precautionary measure, but was unable to say whether or not he will be available on Tuesday.
“Unfortunately he [Walcott] had a slight set-back in training today, and that’s the major concern for us. He felt the hamstring that kept him out for so long at the end of last season and which we were slightly concerned about when he joined up with us.
“We took the precaution of taking him from the field because he felt a slight tightness there. Whether he can start or not will depend upon what the medical people will tell me, and I need to check that if I do start him he won’t be leaving the field after just five minutes and leave us with the 13 men rather than the 14 I’d count on.”
This is a big shame for Walcott because it is the first time that he is actually getting some playing at a major tournament. He did not feature (despite being a shock inclusion in the squad) at the World Cup in 2006 and was controversially left out of the squad for South Africa 2010. England, of course, did not qualify for Euro 2008. Walcott made only a small cameo appearance in England’s first game against France, but did, however, score and set up a goal in a fantastic substitute performance against Sweden on Friday evening. This was only his 4th goal for England, and his first since he scored a hattrick against Croatia in 2008.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has been dropped to the bench and replaced by Andy Caroll for England’s game against Sweden at 8pm. There is also no room in the Starting XI for Theo Walcott, who made only a short cameo appearance against France on Monday afternoon.
Kick-off for the England game has been pushed back by 15 minutes in order to accommodate Ukraine vs France, which was delayed by an hour because of heavy rain. France are currently 2-0 up (goals from Menez & Cabaye), meaning that England need a win against Sweden in order to keep pace at the top of the group. Whoever comes second in Group D is odds-on to face Spain (the likely winners of Group C) in the quarter-finals.
Other than Andy Caroll, the England team remains unchanged from the team that drew against France. AOC’s performance on Monday was pretty solid, although I can understand if Roy Hodgson feels that he needs a bit more of a physical presence against Sweden.
Arsenal players are so far having not having the best of tournaments. Robin van Persie scored a fantastic goal against Germany, but The Netherlands still sit bottom of their group after 2 games. Nicklas Bendtner had an equally frustrating game against Portugal as his brace was not enough to stop Denmark losing 3-2. Tomas Rosicky is facing constant injury problems, while Laurent Koscielny has not played in either of France’s games. However, the big news was that Wojceich Sczcesny was sent off in Poland’s opening game against Greece. That said, Andrey Arshavin seems to have had 2 good games for Russia.
Englandteam to play Sweden: Hart, Johnson, Terry, Lescott, Cole, Milner, Parker, Gerrard, Young, Welbeck, Carroll.
Jack Wilshere picked up an ankle injury in the Emirates cup. The extent of the injury was unknown, so he had a scan of his ankle. On his official twitter page, he reported that there was nothing to worry about, and that the scan didn’t reveal anything serious, and that he should be fit again in a few days. Here’s what he had to say:
“Ankle scan just showed some inflammation. Hopefully will settle down in a few days”
As to whether he will feature in Arsenal’s final pre-season match is currently unknown. Wenger was questioned after the Red Bulls match about Jack’s injury. He said the following:
“It is not very serious. They say he might be out for the whole of next week because he has an ankle inflammation. But he has not torn anything. He is a quick healer usually and a tough boy so I hope he will be quicker than the medical predictions. The England game is on August 10 and I don’t know [whether he will be available]. They told me he might be out next week. If he is out next week, he will not play against Benfica so he will certainly not play for England.”
To be honest, I had hoped that he would not play against Benfica. We need Jack to be fit for the start of the season. His high quality performances last season showed that he is an integral part of our first team. Especially if Cesc is to leave, we need Wilshere to be fit, and ideally for him to be playing the same amount of games as he did last season. He brings stability and creativity to our midfield, and also has a burning passion for winning and hatred of losing. Such qualities are clearly evident in his determined play and if we have any chance of breaking our baron run (in terms of trophies), we need Wilshere. Like I said, I hope Wilshere doesn’t play against Benfica, and then, subsequently that he wont feature for England. The last thing we need now is a player of Wilshere’s importance being injured.
Voting on our STG Player of the Season poll has now closed, and today we will be revealing who you have chosen as your second best player of the 2010/11 season.
No. 2 – Jack Wilshere
Jack Wilshere joined the Arsenal academy in 2001, at the age of nine. He rose through the ranks quickly, and became captain of the U15 team. Wilshere then jumped up to the U19 team, and scored an impressive 13 goals in 18 appearances in his first full season. He was technically very good, young, English and determined – everything Wenger wanted in a player.
A first team appearance beckoned, but Jack had to wait a while in the reserves before he played in a few friendlies just before the 2008/09 season. In that season, he was gradually eased into the first team, with 8 appearances for the club. He scored one and made one assist in those games, which were mainly cup matches.
The following season saw Jack with a similar bit-part role, although Gooners were really starting to understand his potential. He was then loaned to Bolton in the January transfer window, where he made 14 appearances on top of his 7 that he made in the first half of that season. It was at Bolton that our midfielder made his first Premier League start, in February 2010, just over a year ago!
This year, our 19 year old star has made 49 appearance in all competitions, which is over triple the number of appearance he made for Arsenal in his first two seasons in the first team squad. With two goals and ten assists, the stats could indicate a lack of influence in the team. However, Jack’s importance has been anything but lacking. He was the heartbeat of our team all season. He won the PFA Young Player of the Year award, and has been lauded by Capello as the future of English football. Wenger loves him, the fans love him (mainly due to his antics on Twitter, but also his incredible passion on the pitch) and his teammates seem to love him.
Wilshere has also shown his aggressive side this season, but Arsenal fans seem to think it’s great! Such an attitude has been likened to Scholes, and it does show that Jack really gets into the game. Arsenal have recently lacked a player who will be willing to ‘put himself about,’ so to speak.
He made his full England debut this year in February 2011, only one year after his first Premier League start. That’s pretty impressive.
I’m slightly surprised at the results from our Player of the Season poll. I would have put Jack as our best player this year, but he managed only a third of the votes. Still, the winner of our poll probably deserved it – check the blog tomorrow to see who you voted for in first place.
Jack is going to take a well-deserved break
It emerged earlier this week that Jack has been left out of Stuart Pearce’s squad for the England U21 Championships in Denmark, which take place next month. Wilshere had made it clear that he wanted to play, and had been working hard on his fitness in order to play in the tournament.
“I said I wanted to play and I meant that. I wasn’t lying. I wanted to play. I still want to play.”
However, Arsene Wenger, who was always against Wilshere playing in Denmark, has argued that the decision to omit him from the squad was the right one. Wilshere has played over 50 games this season (for club and country) and Wenger suggested that, because of his young age, he may experience burnout – which could lead to injury problems at the start of next season.
“It was Arsène Wenger and Tony Colbert, the fitness coach, who showed me the stats. It didn’t really sink in at first.
“[The stats show that] I am heading for an injury and that is the last thing I want, especially heading into the Euros.
“I want to keep my place in the [England/Arsenal] team and I have to be 100 per cent to do that.
“I am 19 and I have just got into the England team, and with the Euros coming up, it was in everyone’s best interests for me to rest.
“If I was in the squad, I would have gone. I would never have pulled myself out and said ‘I’m not going’.”
It seems that Wilshere is trying to make sure he doesn’t make any enemies here – which is the correct decision. He probably wanted to go to Denmark, but realises that he shouldn’t tire himself out too much. This way, he won’t annoy Arsenal fans, England fans, Wenger or Pearce (well, maybe a bit). Good on him.
After having been ‘transfer linked’ with the gunners on our website last year, Seder Tasci has been linked with a potential move away from Stuttgart again this summer. With Wenger looking to bolster the defence, the 24 year old could provide some defensive cover. He has been a regular for Stuttgart over the last few years, and in the 06/07 season he won the Bundesliga with them. Tasci has 13 caps for the senior national team, and he made a cameo appearance in the World cup finals last summer as a 91st minute substitute for MezutÖzil. Wenger tried to obtain Tasci last year, but the £10 million asking price proved too high for Wenger’s liking. Reports have resurfaced that Wenger would like to sign him.
Wenger is normally excellent at spotting young talent. He has been able to transform unknown starlets into world class players. However, in recent seasons, Wenger’s defensive purchases have endured some criticism. Both Koscielny and Squillaci have experienced mixed first seasons. While Koscielny did not have the best start to his Arsenal career, he has turned this around with some stellar performances against the likes of Chelsea and Barcelona. Squillaci on the other hand has proven to be more of a flop, and I would not be adverse to seeing him leave in the summer. Furthermore, most Arsenal fans are still bemused as to why Silvestre ever stepped out on the pitch for Arsenal. All of this aside, the fan favourite, Thomas Vermaelen, proved to be an instant success, so let’s hope for another Vermaelen and not another Squillaci.
Likeliness Rating: 3/5
With the future of Gael Clichy in doubt, Arsenal have been linked with Everton left back. Baines has been a figure of consistency in his time at Everton. He is now regarded as one of the best left backs in the league. He is very solid in defence and provides an attacking outlet with his accurate crosses (a trait many Arsenal fans wish upon our current French left back). Keiran Gibbs, having come through reserves, has been dubbed as the ideal replacement for Clichy. However, the main criticism of Arsenal in recent years has been their lack of experience and defensive fragility, and a large proportion of this blame must be attributed to the back four. Individual mistakes have cost us dearly and it is evident now that it is necessary to bring in experienced players. Wenger may be reluctant to sign Baines because of Keiran Gibbs, but Gibbs has not been given many opportunities to impress in recent seasons, and Wenger may opt for a more experienced left back to replace Clichy, if he does leave the club. Although a very similar player, Clichy has never really been able to fill the gap left by Ashley Cole. Clichy is a good defender, but has been known to make mistakes, and is not as consistent as his fellow full back, Sagna. As mentioned above, his crossing is rather poor, and generally he is unable to affect the game in any attacking sense. Baines also offers an advantage with his free kick abilities. With Robin Van Persie‘s free kick’s inevitably destined to either hit the wall, the crossbar or fly into the stands, Baines’ ability from the dead ball situation may prove useful. With Manchester City and Liverpool chasing the Englishman, it may be difficult for Wenger to secure his signature. He is valued at about £12 million.
According to the Mail, an Arsenal insider said the following about Baines:
”Baines is a good defender first and foremost but Wenger likes how comfortable he is on the ball, particularly his delivery and set pieces. Wenger thinks Baines would slot straight into the team with little fuss.”
Likeliness Rating: 2.5/5
In other news, it has been revealed by the club that Pat Rice, our assistant manager, will be retaining his post for at least another year. There were reports earlier this season that this would be Pat’s last campaign as assistant manager under Arsène Wenger. We look forward to seeing his characteristic dimmed glasses on the touchline next season.
Jack Wilshere is set to play for England in the Under 21 World Championships this summer because (to Arsène Wenger’s displeasure), he has been named in Stuart Pearce’s provisional squad for the tournament in Denmark.
Wilshere has established himself in both the Arsenal first team and the England squad this season, with England manager Fabio Capello suggesting that he represents the future of English football. Having played 45 games for Arsenal already this season (and 4 for England), Wenger believes that Wilshere could suffer from burnout and that Pearce would be better suited to picking a player who has not had such an hectic schedule. Despite the protests, Pearce is likely to take Wilshere to Denmark regardless of any conversation with Wenger.
“I have to make sure my best players are up against the opposition’s best players…
“I will speak with Arsène Wenger because of the number of games Jack’s played this season…
“But I’ve got my own thoughts as to what the squad will be. If that involves Jack, then any conversation I have with his club manager will not influence my thinking on that.”
It is nonsensical for Pearce not to take Wilshere – as he is easily one of the most talented young players in the world – but it is the Arsenal manager who will deal with the consequences. Once Jack has been given holiday (of around 4-6 weeks) after the tournament, he will miss Arsenal’s pre-season tour of America and the Emirates Cup.
I understand Wenger’s frustration, but I honestly don’t think there is anything he can do. It is suggested that he write to the FA and ask them to declare which England team Wilshere plays for. Either he is of the U21 standard, or he is good enough to play for the senior squad.
Wilshere’s desire to play in the tournament is clear, but he acknowledges that the final decision is not for him to make.
“It’s down to Arsène Wenger, Fabio Capello and Stuart Pearce, but I will never say no to my country,”
On the one hand, I respect that Wilshere wants to represent his country at every available opportunity. It is an honour to play for your county, whether it is at senior level or U21. However, I do think that it is important that Fabio Capello and Stuart Pearce have an understanding as to which team Wilshire should play for. If he has played 4 games already for the senior squad, and is being touted as the best young player in English football, surely he can’t also be expected to play for the U21 team at the same time? Playing for the U21 team this summer and probably for the senior squad in Euro 2012 is too much for such a young player.
Kieren Gibbs and Henry Lansbury are the other two Arsenal players to be included in the 40-man squad, which will be whittled down to 23 within the next few weeks.
14 of our first-team players will be put to the test as they represent their countries over the next week. Several important qualifiers for Euro 2012 and the African Cup of Nations are due to take place, as well as some friendlies that will allow players to gain some much-needed international experience.
Samir Nasri, Gael Clichy and Bacary Sagna have all travelled to Luxembourg to represent “Les Bleus”, who have improved considerably under new manager Laurent Blanc following a dismal World Cup. Gooners must be pleased that Nasri, who has been one of the stand-out players at club level this season, was not included in the French squad the travelled to South Africa last summer.
Robin Van Persie, Nicklas Bendtner, Maroune Chamakh, Thomas Rosicky, Carlos Vela and Emanuel Eboué have also been called up to play for their respective countries, while Henri Lansbury and Kieran Gibbs are representing the England Under 21’s. It is also important to note that Cesc Fabregas, Theo Walcott and Alex Song would all have featured in their countries squads if they weren’t injured.
Although I think it is great that so many Arsenal players are representing their countries at such a high level, I do feel that this can create some unnecessary problems for the club at such a crucial part of the season. How many times have we seen players injure themselves on international duty? Reports have already started to emerge suggesting that Nicklas Bendtner has picked up a small ankle injury while training with the Danish squad ahead of their match in Norway, and RVP can’t seem to play for Holland without requiring several months on the sidelines afterwards.
Injuries aside, the main focus of the weekend will be on the two extremely talented young midfielders playing tomorrow afternoon at the Millennium Stadium. Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey are used to playing at the same club, but tomorrow they have the rare opportunity to play against each other. The two have pushed their way into the Arsenal first-team (although the latter suffered a major set-back due to the horrible injury suffered just over a year ago), and both will be looking to have a similar impact at international level.
In a surprise move this morning, new coach Gary Speed has handed Aaron Ramsey the Wales captaincy. Ramsey will become the youngest player to captain Wales, in only his 3rd appearance for the country, despite Speed having several more-experienced players in the squad. Ramsey’s last game for his country was over 16 months ago, and many are saying that he is not ready to be given such a large responsibility. However, I am in agreement with Robbie Savage, who says: “Ramsey will feel Wilshere has taken over his club slot and he will be looking to prove a bit of a point.”I am sure that Ramsey would relish the opportunity to show just how strong a player he really is.
Jack Wilshere will almost definitely start in the heart of England’s midfield, with Fabio Capello hailing him as the future of the England team. He has put in some incredible performances recently, and has been a revelation in the new-look England team.
“Yes, yes [he will play for England], because he is good, because he plays without fear, and with confidence. Also for someone so young, he is a leader. It is incredible. I never saw someone so young be a leader on the pitch. It is incredible.”