Thursday, 14 November 2013

Wilshere's wise head on young shoulders -Vermaelen silent -Fabregas nostalgic over Arsenal

Morning Gooners.

The theme of today's blog is on Arsenal captains. A future leader, the present leader and a past leader.

We'll start with our club's future leader, Jack Wilshere, who has been speaking to the England press-core ahead of his country's game with Chile on Friday night.

You'll remember Jack was the centre of a controversy when he suggested that English players should only play for England, last time he spoke to the media while on national  team duty in October. Of course there were side issues: Jack smoking a cigarette and Jack urinating by the side of the training pitch. It seemed the press were keen to take a swipe at one of their own.

This time Wilshere was asked about whether fans were too expectant of him, given that he's only 21 years-old.

He said::
"Yes, I do think [people forget my age]. Not just because I've been around for a long time, but people hear I've got two kids and it's not often you hear about a 21-year-old with two kids. 
"I've been in the first team since I was 16, so that's five years - quite a long time in football terms. 
"I made my debut when I was 16 and the aim was to play for England and it came pretty quickly - when I was 18. Then the main thing after that was to keep my place in the Arsenal team week in, week out and I did during that season. 
"I then had a frustrating year with injury and it's tough when you're out injured, you've got to come back. People think that when you're out injured you don't do a lot of work but you do, trust me."
It seems as though Jack has been in and out of the team this term, but the statistics show he's been involved in 10 out of our 11 Premier League games, starting in seven of them. I think at the moment though we're not seeing him be as consistently good as he was in his breakthrough season.

There can be no denying injuries have played their part on his performances. Two goals and an assist though aren't a bad return.

The manager is still not able to play Jack in his preferred position because there are better players ahead of him in the pecking order at this time, but Arsene Wenger has always said that he's building this team around Jack Wilshere and it's now up to him to get through this difficult patch and cement his place in this Arsenal team.

I do feel there is an expectation level around English players which is unrealistic. Clearly we've seen from the development under Wenger of players like Cesc Fabregas and Theo Walcott they don't really come into their best and most consistent years until they are 23/24.

Last season it did feel as though he was dragging us through games and helping us win them single handily. Clearly with the arrival of Mesut Ozil, some of that pressure should be taken off his young shoulders and he should be allowed time to develop naturally. But because he is English and he got his break so early in his career, there will always be a higher level of expectation put on him.

We know that Jack has got the people around him - his family and friends - to ensure that he will stick on the right path, but there will be bumps along the way and we should expect that.

Meanwhile Thomas Vermaelen has told reporters he doesn't want to talk about his future at Arsenal.

He said:
"I have no injury, I just was a bit stiff after the game on Sunday so nothing is going on and I am fit to play [on Friday]. You want to play as much as you can, so I was really happy to play on Sunday." 
"I don't want to speak about the situation because if I do I make it worse, so I don't want to speak. It is not about my situation it is about the team and they are doing well, it is not about me.".
I feel for the present Arsenal captain. He's stuck between a rock and a hard place. He knows deep down that Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny are Arsene Wenger's first choice central defensive partnership. But he also knows that he is one illness, injury or suspension away from being back in the team.

He's also the club captain, which means that whatever he may be thinking privately about his Arsenal future - or lack of one - he can't be speaking about it in public. The team has to come first. Those conversations need to be private between player and manager.

There is no way that Vermaelen would be allowed to leave the club in January unless the manager had a replacement lined up. But as his performance at Old Trafford showed, Vermaelen is a very good player, so in all likelihood, Wenger would still want to keep Vermaelen even if he did want to leave.

Sadly, it seems that this line of questioning will continue until Vermaelen wins his place back in the team or he departs for pastures new.

And finally to our former captain Cesc Fabregas who has tweeted a picture of his time at Arsenal with his mates Mathieu Flamini, Alex Hleb and Tomas Rosicky. It will no doubt lead to some to question if he want to return to Arsenal. But with his importance to Barcelona this season, I can't see that happening for a number years yet, if it happens at all.

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