With Arsenal having no trophy to chase except the top 4 spot which has been the pseudo one Wenger and his men have been cavorting for the past 7 seasons and even that is been genuinely threatened with Tottenham fiercely competing now. The Gunners’ chase for a top 4 spot suffered a blow when midfield marshal Jack Wilshere was ruled out for an initial 3 week spell but the French leave was further extended by another 4 weeks. The diagnosis was an ankle problem that arose from being over-played. Hence, Wenger had to take him off the firing line to avoid the stress fracture that kept him in the treatment room for 14 months.
The injury plaguing Wilshere isn’t the aftermath of a horrendous tackle or personal fitness issues like some players but the price of too much football. Before suffering the initial stress fracture that kept him sidelined for a protracted period, Wilshere had played over 40 games for Arsenal alone. Having just returned from a loan spell at Bolton, Wenger had planned to use him sparingly in the course of the season but Fabregas’ extended break and absence at the start of the season meant Wilshere got more starts than he bargained for and been one not to let an opportunity slip, he proved his worth to the team and became indispensable. Even the return of Fabregas couldn’t dislodge him, his role had to be created in the first team.
It is not a bad thing to have a good player and use him to the maximum but to subject a young player to such rigours and huge number of matches in just one season was just a step too far and doesn’t show good player management on the part of Wenger and his management team. Over-using him then cost Arsenal dear as the English man sat out 14 months which included a whole Premier League season and the European championships.
On his return from the long layoff, Wenger said he was going to ease him gradually into the side and won’t over-use him but after marking his return and showing no signs of poor form and fitness concerns, he became a super-regular, not missing any of Arsenal Premier League and Champions League games until his latest setback. When quizzed on the injury, Wenger admitted to over-playing the young midfielder.
It is clear that Wenger’s high-handedness is jeopardizing the player’s long term fitness. If this latest setback isn’t well managed, it could result in another stress fracture and a lengthy lay-off that could see him miss the next season and another major international tournament (this time, FIFA World Cup). How can a player of Wilshere’s talent not have been to an international tournament with Three Lions? It is risible but true. Wilshere is yet to play at any tournament with Three Lions. I can imagine how he would feel if he misses the world cup through injuries.
Undoubtedly, Wilshere is talented and one of the best midfielders around but that doesn’t mean he has to play all the games. The reason why he is doing that at Arsenal is the poor quality on the bench. In the role he plays, there are Diaby, Ramsey, Rosicky and Chamberlain that can also play there but Wenger seems not to believe in them and has heaped the entire responsibility on Wilshere’s puerile shoulders.
Arsenal are a bit positive in their prognosis of the injury, saying he isn’t out of the season but would return under 4 weeks. Personally, I would rather have him out for the rest of the season and fit to start the next season than have him play the last few matches of the season and loose him for the better part of next season.
Wenger should put faith in Ramsey, Rosicky and Diaby. They are earning big wages and should be allowed to do the job they are been paid for. If he feels they are not good enough, he should make up his mind to sell them in the summer and bring in capable hands that can alleviate Wilshere’s burden.
Another player on the red line is Santi Cazorla. Since his summer arrival from Malaga, the Spaniard has been ever present in the Gunners team. He has also not had a deserved rest. Already this season, he has played 37 games for Arsenal. The Spaniard needs to rest, if he is not, we are risking him getting burnt out which might affect his productivity next season. Unlike other players that would be having serene summer and pre-season, Cazorla would be having none of that as he would be jetting out with his La Fura Roja mates to Brazil to battle for the Confederations Cup. This means if Spain get to the final, he wouldn’t be having pre-season and
certainly not starting the season. This could even be worse of he picks up an injury at the tournament.
Without him and Wilshere at the start of next season, the Gunners could be heading for the rocks. That’s why it’s imperative to give them a breather. This season is almost over and with plenty of lessons for Arsenal to learn. It’s high time Wenger refreshes the squad with good players across the key positions so that the top men like Wilshere, Cazorla can have good rest and not at the team’s expense.
Written By Kolade Omotosho