Monthly Archives: November 2014

Updates on Jack Wilshere and Wojciech Szczesny’s Injuries

Jack Wilshere suffered an injury against Manchester United but it is not thought to be serious

When I was young, I witnessed my younger brother suffer an ankle injury that saw him use clutches for a couple of months. It was even more saddening to know that he suffered the injury while playing for his school team, and I doubt if any scouts were even watching. I can vividly remember the excruciating and agonizing pains he suffered when the ankle hit somewhere but after undergoing therapy, he did well to fix up the ankle… then he went back to playing football again

When Jack Wilshere suffered the same fate following a collision with Chris Smalling, I was deeply concerned for the lad especially after seeing him signal to the bench showing that all wasn’t well. But as the fighter he is, he stayed on the pitch for a couple of minutes before the manager replaced him. Yes, many Arsenal fans would be right to be unhappy at his horrendous miss, especially when Alexis Sanchez was clearly unmarked but Wilshere’s health should be a key concern for everyone connected with the club because he has been one of the bright sparks of a relatively dark season.

He has had his frustrating moments as well as his good ones but Wilshere is one player that would give you 110% in every game. He needs to work on his temperament because he could easily have seen red for his head butt on Marouane Fellaini but in the heat of the moment, you should expect such a player to keep his cool. If he attempted the same nudge on a bloke like Sergio Busquets for instance, I’m sure you all know what would have happened next.

For starters, Arsene Wenger has confirmed that Wilshere has a ‘little chance’ of playing against Borussia Dortmund tomorrow and he also raised his doubts on Wojciech Szczesny’s participation as well. According to the Telegraph, their injuries aren’t long-term as well. Thank goodness. Wilshere had an initial scan after the game and it was revealed that he didn’t suffer any major injury and he was seen leaving the Emirates without any crutches or protective footwear. However, the initial prognosis seems to be a soft tissue ankle sprain but it’s stated that his ankle will be accessed again when the swelling subsides.

Wilshere is a player that has had his fair share of injuries worries and many Arsenal fans can also remember how he missed out on the beautiful game for the best part of 14 months following a stress fracture to this ankle in the Emirates Cup clash against Boca Juniors. Even if he returns from injury, his current style of play would still make him a target for some rash challenges that will only end injuring him yet again. Wilshere tends to dwell on the ball far too long at Arsenal but when he’s donning the White of England, he’s a completely different beast. With four consecutive Man of the Match awards for the National team, Wilshere has been on the spotlight for all the right reasons and in England’s last game against Scotland, he provided a neat assist for his fellow Gunner, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Szczesny on the other hand, looked very uncomfortable following his clash with Kieran Gibbs and it was in his best interests to replace him with the inexperienced lad, Emiliano Martinez. The young goalie might have done better not to commit himself when he came off his line to challenge Wayne Rooney but the real question we should be asking is where the f*ck did Per Mertesacker go? What was he thinking allowing Nacho Monreal, a make-shift center back, to be all on his own against the Angel and Shrek?

Szczesny has a high chance on missing the all-important clash against Dortmund and with David Ospina still injured, Martinez maybe on the cards to make another Champions League appearance. Let’s just hope that he’d be offered better protection from those in front of him.

I’d keep you posted on their injury updates as the days go by.

Sayonara.

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Arsenal 1 Man Utd 2: We Just Can’t Beat ’em

I’ve been out for a couple of days due to work related issues (as always) and this is the first article in a long while that I’m publishing with my phone. After the debacle at Swansea, you would have expected the Gunners to show some enthusiasm against a Manchester United side that was struggling with form and injuries. The stat boys say that Loius van Gaal’s team had picked up 39 injuries already this season, so I wasn’t surprised when I saw a backline that contained the likes of McNair and Tyler Blackett with Antonio Valencia playing as a make shift right back.

Sure, the Gunners had injury concerns of their own but you’d have fancied them to rip such a shaky defense apart. Arsenal began the game well and dominated possession but for all their good work, there was no end product. Many shots were aimed straight at David de Gea but the undoubted chance of the game arrived when Alexis Sanchez pressured de Gea into making a hurried clearance that was intercepted in midfield. Danny Welbeck teed up an unmarked Jack Wilshere but instead of passing the ball to a Sanchez in a better position to score, or at least blast the bloody ball in the net, the poster boy played it straight at de Gea, much to the disgust of everyone connected with Arsenal.

It’s misses like that always come back to bite you in the ass, and as expected, it did. Wojciech Szczesny and Kieran Gibbs failed to communicate well which saw the goalie make a tame punch to Valencia (injured himself in the process). The Ecuadorian fired an opportunistic shot that was going wide but Gibbs guided the ball to Arsenal’s net. A sting in the tail but was I surprised? Hell no!

Santi Cazorla had come on for an injured Wilshere and also had a chance to end his wretched run in front of goal when Welbeck cushioned a neat header for him but he fired the ball straight at de Gea. Arsenal’s moment of anguish arrived late on when an unfortunate Nacho Monreal was allowed to mark both Angel di Maria and Shrek (where the hell was Per Mertesacker). The Angel threaded a neat ball to Shrek and the England captain waited for Martinez to commit himself before executing a neat chip to put the game beyond doubt. Unbelievably, that was also Man Utd’s first shot on goal.

Arsenal had summoned Olivier Giroud for the yet again ineffectual Ramsey and the striker almost made an instant impact when he nodded a corner kick over the bar. He wasn’t to be denied a second time when he latched onto Mikel Arteta’s lovely dinked effort to slam a shot past a hapless de Gea. Of course, it was too little too late. Di Maria even had a late chance to kill off the game but his finish was rather awkward. In the end, it didn’t matter as the Gunners lost yet again to Manchester United side with frailties at the back. De Gea might have won the man of the match award but in all honesty, it was more of a case of Arsenal’s wayward finishing rather great saves from the Spaniard.

One might ask, what does Arsenal have to do to win games like this? Why is Arsene Wenger so stubborn to persist with the same set of players that have been shite all season long? Why does Jack Wilshere hold onto the ball far too long? Why do we suffer so many injuries? When will Danny Welbeck start scoring again?

Players like Aaron Ramsey and Santi Cazorla need to sit games out for a couple of weeks to reflect on their bad form. Right now, they tend to get on the end of very insightful attacking moves but their finishing has been atrocious. Many people have seen how vocal Lukas Podolski has been due to his lack of game time. Isn’t it high time for the manager to give him a run of games to at least get a chance to prove to everyone what his made of?

I can’t deny that I am happy to see Giroud return to first team football because despite the fact that Welbeck is one of the hardest working players I’ve seen wear the sacred Red and White, he isn’t the natural goalscorer that would give you 20 goals a season. Yes, Giroud’s record against the top-tier teams of the Premier League has been shambolic but you can trust him to give you goals against the Leicesters, Tottenhams, Swansea and co of the league, something Welbeck hasn’t been able to deliver.

But hey, I’m no Wenger, just a Process Engineer working in an oil and gas company whose passion for the club makes him write about ’em.

It’s sad to see things pan out this way but football is an unforgiving sport because it’s a home clash against Borussia Dortmund that comes up next.

Try to enjoy your Sunday doing the things you love. Don’t worry about Arsenal till Wednesday at least.

Sayonara.

Has Ramsey’s Criticism this Season been Deserved?

 

Arsenal's Aaron Ramsey reacts during their Champions League Group D soccer match against Anderlecht at Constant Vanden Stock stadium in Brussels October 22, 2014.   REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

Permit me to take you down memory to a famous evening at Wembley. After Santi Cazorla and Laurent Koscielny had played their roles in clawing the Gunners out from the embarrassing jaws of defeat, a moment arrived deep into extra time that sent all Arsenal fans worldwide to raptures. The silky Olivier Giroud noticed a player making one of his trademarks late surges into the box and he executed a neat back-heeled pass that was poked home by Arsenal’s undoubted player of the season, Aaron Ramsey.

With his highest ever goalscoring tally at club level, Ramsey ascended from being a frustrating player to watch (remember 2011/12 season?) to being the next best thing against Arsenal. He was the epitome of everything good at the club and many Arsenal fans even say that if he had remained fit all season long, they might had won the Premier League. That’s a justifiable claim bearing in mind how he performed in the 2013/14 Premier League.

Funnily enough, it wasn’t just the goals that epitomized Ramsey’s scintillating form for the club last season. Ramsey’s 2013/14 stats (via WhoScored) were been jaw-dropping to say the least.

STATS (EPL Only)

Aaron Ramsey

Appearances (Subs)

20 (3)

Goals Scored

10

Assists

8

Shots per Game

2.2

Minutes per Goal

176.4

Tackles per Game

3.3

Bookings (Yellow / Red)

3 / 0

Attempted Dribbles per Game

1.3

Chances Created

32

Total Passes (Accurate Passes)

1262 (1064)

Pass Completion %

84.3

Total Long Balls (Accurate)

89 (62)

Total Through Balls (Accurate)

23 (7)

With the fitness levels of an Ox, Ramsey played Arsenal’s first 18 games in the Premier League, notching up eight goals and six assists. In these 18 games, Arsenal amassed 12 wins, three draws and suffered three defeats. Ramsey missed out on Arsenal’s remaining 14 League games and in his absence, the Gunners had eight victories, three draws and suffered three defeats which include those humiliating results against Liverpool and Chelsea.

This showed that the Gunners had a 66% win ratio in the Premier League when Ramsey took to the pitch but had a 57% win ratio while he was at the treatment table.

He made his return in a brief cameo against West Ham and after getting some extra games under his belt, Ramsey scored Hull twice (Premier League and FA Cup final) as well as a wonder strike against Norwich in the final league game of the season.

With Wales not qualifying for the World Cup, Ramsey watched his teammates in the soccer fiesta and was certainly happy for the likes of Mesut Ozil, Lukas Podolski and Per Mertesacker that came back home with the trophy.

Things were expected of him in the new campaign and Ramsey obliged with a Man of the Match performance in the FA Community Shield against Manchester City, where he notched up a goal and an assist. He was Arsenal’s savior yet again in the curtain raiser against Crystal Palace then he earned himself a foolish red card in the qualifier against Besiktas. Many Arsenal fans fretted at the prospect of missing Ramsey for the vital second leg at the Emirates but Alexis Sanchez turned up on the night and never looked back.

Ramsey made his return in the League with a late goal against Everton and he created a neat assist for Jack Wilshere against Manchester City before suffering a hamstring injury in the North London Derby. Since then, Rambo’s form has been downright erratic for a player of his high standards. His blood-like thirst for goals has seen him drift away from performing his other essential duties on the pitch and with the likes of Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini not getting enough ‘assistance’ from Ramsey, they have been left exposed countless times and in most cases, Arsenal ends up conceding a goal.

At some point, Ramsey lost his place in the team due to his fitness issues and / or bad patch of form. Sadly, he continued his wretched run with another uncharacteristic torrid outing against Swansea and he was eventually substituted.

According to the Daily Mail, Ramsey has hit back on the fans that have criticized his form, labeling it as ‘unfair’,

‘I’m not worried. I know my qualities. ‘I’ve had a few injuries this season and I’m just getting back. To be honest, I’m still not 100 per cent physically there. It does take a bit out of me.

‘It will take me a few more games to be back to my best. I’m not worried. Certain criticism from people is unfair.’

Ramsey, like a couple of his teammates, is currently going through a rough patch and for a player of his caliber, I’d say that the criticism he has received has been deserved. Criticism is a honest way to letting an individual know how you really feel about him and you don’t need any soothsayer to tell you that Ramsey isn’t playing well at the moment.

Is there something that can be done about it? Yes!

As Wenger advised, Ramsey needs to go back to the basics to do his primary job as a midfielder. We live in a world where attacking players are judged by the goals they score but sometimes, those aren’t the stats we need to be bothered about. Last season, Ramsey was a growing influential figure within the team and his absence was a bitter pill to swallow as the Gunners lacked his determination, inspiration, commitment, doggedness and technical ability.

If he can focus on improving his game, starting with the all-important clash against Manchester United, it would go a long way in restoring him to his good form.

You have to be good before you can become the Alexis, I mean, best.

Sayonara.

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