Thursday, 21 March 2013

Wenger wants Wilshere talks -Players given defensive training shock -Szczesny's career over?

Morning Gooners.

We'll start with the news Arsene Wenger plans to speak to England manager Roy Hodgson over his plans for Jack Wilshere in two end of season friendlies. According to the Daily Mail, the Arsenal manager will ask for his player to be rested for both games after the player's comeback season from injury.

Not an unreasonable request considered how many games Jack has played this season and how many he'll potentially be involved in next term. Plus there is a World Cup at the end of it.

Wenger is right to ask Hodgson to think of Jack's fitness. It's in Hodgson's own interest that the player is available next summer so resting him for two meaningless games shouldn't be an issue. Alex Ferguson gets favours all the time. Why shouldn't Wenger? And it's not really a favour for the Arsenal manager, it's one for his player who doesn't appear to know when to play and when he's on the point of burn out.

According to the Daily Telegraph, Wenger ordered his defensive players to take part in extra defensive drills following the north London derby defeat. As most will know by now, the manager like to run possession-based group sessions.

But the Telegraph point out it was Wenger - not Steve Bould, not Neil Banfield, not Boro Primorac - who requested the defensive players take part in extra sessions and took charge of the routines himself, aided by his assistant manager and two first team coaches.

Whatever has happened on the training pitches at London Colney has obviously worked. Two clean sheets cannot be grumbled at. And long may it continue.

And finally there appears to be a - how do I put this politely - shit storm being created by The Sun about the comments made by Wojciech Szczesny's father Maciej made to the Polish press about Arsene Wenger.

The Sun or rather journalist Antony Kastrinakis believe that what Szczesny's father has said about his son's manager could end his Arsenal career. Sorry, but I'm having none of it.

Let's look at what exactly Szczesny senior said:
"Wojciech proved to everyone that he is a brilliant goalkeeper.  
"Obviously he is in worse form now than a year ago but not for a reason. He had two bad injuries. With the first he played through April and May last season.  
"It was unreasonable that he got persuaded by an experienced manager. I have huge complaints for this manager.  
"He played with Wojciech’s health and Wojciech got persuaded to do this stupidity.  
"He wasn’t training for the whole week. He had a warm-up on Fridays and on Saturdays he played a game. He was less and less resistant to injuries and his form got worse. When you don’t train regularly that’s how it is."
Wojciech is a good goalkeeper - not brilliant - but would you expect a father to have a less objective view of his son. The potential for him to be a brilliant player is certainly there. Yes, it's fair to say his form isn't as good. And the reason could be injury. But surely his development cannot be put down to injuries that are over?  Are we to believe that injuries he sustained in April and May are blocking his progress?

Many players are asked to play when they are far from 100% fit. It's what professional footballers do for their teams.  We know Szczesny can speak his own mind. So does his father think his son is unable to tell Wenger that he's not fit enough to play?

I wouldn't say that Wenger is entirely blameless. He shouldn't be picking players who are injured. But when needs must you ask a player to play for the team. And I'm sure the manager has said in the past he's never asked a player to take an injection or play if they were injured.

Szczesny senior added:
"During a football match the exertion is extreme. In my opinion Mr Wenger messed up a lot during April and May last year. I don’t blame a young man that he got persuaded — I would be, too.  
"Wojciech’s form is a result of playing with injury for two months and that he had a problem with a metatarsal in August. OK, he recovered, but after a week he was playing again in the Premier League. How can he be in good shape?  
"He is not training properly for about a year and whose fault is it? His? No, it’s the fault of an experienced coach. All those who think Wenger made the right decision about Wojciech should think where his worse form came from.  
"Wenger started to look for a scapegoat and made it Wojciech. You don’t do such things."
The manager has said that he probably asked for too much from Wojciech to play him in every game this season in the league when he's been fit. But I would expect a number one goalkeeper to come straight back into the team if he's fit to play.

Of all the games played this season Szczesny has started 24, Mannone was between the sticks for 13 starts and Fabianski has played in the last two. Damien Martinez played in two league cup games. So it could be argued that as a number one goalkeeper Wojciech hasn't played a disproportionate amount of games.

And I don't think Wojciech has been made a scapegoat at all.

And then the rest of Szczesny senior's quotes:
"Transfers were not Wenger’s strong side recently. Good players went out, poor players came in. This guy makes permanent mistakes. His players are often injured — that makes you think about his training process as well.  
"His team play in a disgraceful manner. They lose 2-1 to Tottenham, conceding two goals in the same way in two minutes.  
"So there is a huge possibility a rival saw Arsenal as a team who constantly make the same mistakes.  
"I think that he is burnt out as a manager and as a person, too.  
"He lost control with journalists. At a press conference he complains that they dare to ask him questions. 
"I think that it is a good time to make a break for him.  
"It would be good for him to take the pressure off his shoulders and nerves and reset himself. I believe that he is a good coach and teacher but recently he is boiling up.  
"And the plan for running this business got burned out, too. It would be good to make some modifications."
Everyone is entitled to an opinion. And if Szczesny senior thinks Arsene Wenger's time is up then that's his opinion. It was Wenger who gave his son a chance, so it's not as though the Frenchman doesn't have faith in Wojciech.

We all know goalkeepers are a little mad - if not totally bonkers. So I'm not surprised Szczesny senior has these opinions.

Do I think Wojciech's Arsenal career is over because what his dad said? No, not at all. But he's got to fight for his place and I think the summer will see a new goalkeeper arrive to press for the starting spot. Next season could see Wojciech put under a lot of pressure for his place. But I do believe that he has all the attributes to be Arsenal's first choice goalkeeper for the next ten years. He's just got to want it.

That's it for today. Back with more tomorrow.

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