Jack Wilshere’s claim that he was just holding a cigarette as part of a prank is among the most ludicrous excuses I’ve ever heard. I thought that only 16 year-olds said “I’m holding it for someone else” the first time they were caught with a fag by their parents. And what kind of “prank” was being pulled exactly? Who was he trying to wind up? Is he claiming that he knew the photographer was there and thought this would be a bit of a jape? And, if you’re just “holding” a cigarette I’m not sure you actually need to start putting it in your mouth and start taking a long drag on it. The fact is that Jack has been caught out doing something he shouldn’t be. We shouldn’t be surprised, but that makes it no less disappointing.
I’m not surprised that Arsene Wenger is upset. Le Boss is notoriously keen for his players to lead a healthy lifestyle. To see one of his young stars, developed through the Arsenal Academy, standing outside some club with a cigarette must be really annoying for him. I’ve read people defending Jack saying that the odd fag doesn’t do him any harm, and that William Gallas was a smoker and a multitude of other nonsense. The fact is that any smoking is bad for you, especially if you’re a professional athlete of any kind. I don’t care that William Gallas smoked. I didn’t like William Gallas when he played for Arsenal, so I’m certainly not going to accept his personal habits as a reason for Wilshere to be excused. There is simply no excuse for a professional footballer to be smoking in this day and age. I hope Arsene throws the book at him.
Jack himself clearly sees little wrong in what he has been up to and his Twitter reaction to the controversy was foolish, at best. Rather than issuing a grovelling apology of some sort he chose to Tweet a picture of Zinedine Zidane smoking. The inference is clearly one of “If one of the best players ever can smoke, then so can I.” He followed it up with a Tweet saying “…I don’t smoke!” The evidence to the contrary was in the newspaper yesterday. I’m annoyed that Jack Wilshere should choose to not just accept he is in the wrong over this. Sadly he is heading down the path of a number of talented English footballers at the moment who don’t seem to realise how good they’ve got it. He needs to be taken in hand quickly. Jack is too good to waste his talent on being an arrogant t****r, and I hope someone at Arsenal is pointing out the pitfalls of this right now. Who you are, what you are, and whom you represent.
The team news tomorrow is that Carl Jenkinson is coming in for Bacary Sagna. This does not surprise me in the slightest. At half-time on Tuesday Jenkinson did a proper warm-up and was spoken too by one of the back-room staff. He proceeded to remove his tracksuit and was ready to come on for the second-half, only for Sagna to appear from the tunnel. Someone else spoke to Jenkinson and he put his tracksuit back on but continued staying loose throughout the remainder of the game. Sagna is now out for three weeks, though he showed no real effects of any injury during the match. Whatever the hamstring issue he now has it was probably aggravated by playing through the pain against Napoli. Hopefully, while he’s out for a while, he will have time for Arsenal to get his new contract sorted out.
Not much else will change in the side I would think. We might see Arsene make a point to the press and bring Jack Wilshere back in, despite the business I’ve written about above. If Jack does play then I can see him having a stormer as he should be right up for sticking it to the press after the way they’ve gone after him this week. Having been set up as the saviour of the England national team it was no surprise to see the knives out this week – that’s how the media works in this country for some reason. We all know how good Jack is, but he doesn’t need the papers making out he’s the one to win England everything over the next ten years. He might just be the one to win Arsenal a point or three tomorrow, however.