April 4, 2012
Big day today. News has emerged from the always on the ball Arseblog News that Jack Wilshere will play in a specially arranged behind closed doors friendly against Birmingham reserves later on this morning. It marks the first game time for the boy since his pre-season outings at the Emirates Cup when our plans for the season were left in tatters following the news that he’d picked up a stress fracture in his ankle.
I mean our plans were already fairly tatty thanks to the ongoing sagas surrounding the Cesc and Nasri transfers but the Wilshere news took those tatters and tattered them up into tinier tatters until you were left wondering whether you’d misused the word tatters entirely.
Still, this is genuinely bona fide good news coming at a time when the team could do with a boost ahead of what will be a difficult seven game run-in. Now level on points with Spurs we find ourselves with a kind of mini-season ahead of us and any advantage we can gain from having probably our best midfielder and most natural creative provider back in the side has to be welcome.
If he can come through unscathed and without suffering any further complications you have to think that he might be ready for the first team in two or three weeks. That would see him potentially available for Wigan at home on the 16th or perhaps more importantly, Chelsea on the 21st. With four or five games that he could feature in and things so tight in the table he can still have a huge impact on this season.
I’ve said before that there’s a part of me that would rather we kept him back now for next season but if he’s fit then he should play. As long as we’re not rushing him back I don’t think there’s anything to lose. He should complete his rehabilitation at the club, play a few matches before the end of the season and then join up with the England set-up for the Euros. We can then give him the usual time off before the start of pre-season and hopefully have him ready to go for next year. Everything crossed.
Speaking of the Euros, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has been too because despite still being used fairly tentatively by Le Boss he’s still being hotly tipped to play a role. He’s not getting carried away with the speculation though. Talking to the official site he said:
It would be very nice [to be involved] but I don’t get too far ahead of myself or get carried away.
My main focus is to see the end of the season out with Arsenal and help us do as well as we can. We have a long way to go to get a Champions League spot and hopefully top three as well. It would be very nice, but one step at a time is the way to go.
All of a sudden we find ourselves in distinct danger of having a very watchable England team this summer. There’s a possibility we could see Jack Wilshere, Theo Walcott and The Ox combining to give us a little free sneak preview of what we could have in store at Arsenal for the next few years. It’ll be like those ten minute freeviews you get on adult channels to try to tempt you to hand over your credit card details for the main event except instead of the strategically placed pixellated rectangles to ruin your enjoyment we’ll have the likes of John Terry and Ashley Cole.
Both the Telegraph and the Mail have agreed this morning that Arsene Wenger has instructed Gilles Grimandi to compile a dossier on French striker Olivier Giroud of Montpellier. The 25 year old is attracting attention having scored 22 goals this season and at 6’ 3” might be seen as capable of providing the sort of Plan B that we hoped Marouane Chamakh or Nicklas Bendtner might have given us.
I do find this one a tad unlikely though I’m afraid. First of all we’ve already (probably) signed Lukas Podolski, secondly I think there’s a good likelihood that Benik Afobe will be given the chance to lay claim to that third centre forward spot next season and that’s only assuming we successfully manage to move Chamakh, Bendtner and Vela on. But thirdly and most importantly is the price being quoted. Speaking in January, Montpellier’s owner Louis Nicollin said:
Arsenal? You would have to see if Arsène Wenger is interested but, as before, there is Van Persie. And at €10 million? No. Given that he still has more than two years of contract, it will cost more.
He has a contract until 2014, so €50 million or €60 million at least.
Yeah, I can see that. Following decades of careful frugality the club whose record signing remains £15 million for Andrei Arshavin decides to chuck £50 million at Montpellier for a striker to play third fiddle behind Robin Van Persie and Lukas Podolski. Let’s call this one unlikely.
Finally today and the organisation we all love so dearly made yet another bid for our collective affections yesterday when meting out their latest punishment. Uefa have fined FC Porto after their fans racially abused Man City’s Yaya Toure and Mario Balotelli during their Europa League clash back in February. Having already fined Arsene Wenger €40,000 plus a three match touchline ban this week for talking to a referee I know what you’re thinking. This fine for racial abuse better be a doozy. Okay, maybe not. It’s €20,000. Otherwise known as half as much.
So much for Uefa’s commitment to kick racism out of the game. How much difference do you think these paltry fines are going to make to the behaviour of the fans? Well here’s a clue. Uefa have been giving out these pointless token punishments for years. Has racism been driven out of the game? Not as far as I can make out. In fact I’d argue that one of the only places left in society where people can still go and racially abuse somebody without anyone batting much of an eyelid is a football match. That’s how soft these punishments are.
In fact, if I were Arsene Wenger, the next time I was thinking about approaching a referee after a game and questioning one of his terrible, blatantly biased decisions, I’d be tempted to cloak it in a barrage of racist abuse. That way he can cite precedent and instantly get any punishment he might have received halved.
I think it’s genuinely worth a try.
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