Jack’s on his way back, Mert’s per-fect + Arsecast 248

Morning all, bit of a *boilk* this morning but nothing too serious, as Icehouse once said.

Let’s start with the best news from yesterday and that’s the return of Jack Wilshere to first team training. It’s been a long road for the young man and no doubt a very difficult one too. As somebody who finds it hard to take missing a game of 5-a-side I can only imagine how tough it’s been for someone like Jack – whose enthusiasm for the game is obvious – to miss a year or more or his career.

Still, he seems to have done all the hard work with good grace and more than a bit of patience (at least publicly) and his return is eagerly anticipated by everyone. Not just fans but players and manager too. Mikel Arteta says:

It’s going to be a big boost for everyone, starting with us players because he’s going to raise the quality in training. He’s going to bring something to the squad and more quality to the team. That can only be good for everyone.

It’s amazing to think our Lego-haired hunk has yet to play a game with Wilshere, which is a measure of how long he’s been out. Arsene Wenger says:

We are so pleased that Jack is back in full training. It’s been 14 months and that’s a long time for someone at his age. It’s an eternity, but it’s great news.

We have to give him a few training sessions to see how he copes and responds to it. That’s the delicate, sensitive stage – to choose when to bring him in and out. We’ll have to handle that day-by-day.

So from that we can assume it’s going to be a little while yet before we see him back in the first team, but all going well it won’t be too long now. And what a boost it’ll be. Even if we accept it’s going to take him some time to build the required fitness, as well as finding some form and match sharpness, the idea of Wilshere dovetailing with Arteta and Cazorla is gusset-moistening to say the least. I suspect he’s going to be a guy who will be more than keen to make up for lost time, and just looking at the quality he has it really will add something to the team.

You know, it’s on mornings like this that I wish we had a short, pithy acronym to use as a player who has been out for a prolonged period through injury makes a long awaited return to the first team. We should get our thinking caps on for that one.

Meanwhile, Jens Lehmann has given his backing to his fellow Germanians, Per Mertesacker (who, in case you missed it yesterday pronounces his name like ‘Pear’ not ‘Pair’) and Lukas Podolski. The former keeper who, interestingly, has been doing bits and pieces at the club as he works towards his coaching badges, says:

So far my impression is that everybody’s quite happy with them, but everybody knows that they still have to improve, to adapt to the English football and to adapt to the pace of the game there. Lukas and Per are both mentally strong and they have definitely got the potential to perform and to improve their game.

Which is good to hear when you consider both of them have been excellent this season. Podolski has obviously caught the eye with his goals but at the back Mertesacker has slotted in perfectly alongside Thomas Vermaelen and has barely put a foot wrong. I’ve long said he complements both Vermaelen and Koscielny – giving the manager a fantastic choice. Vermesacker or Mertescielny? It’s a tough one, especially when you consider the form Kos was in last season, but the BFG is in the team and is performing well enough to stay there.

Obviously he can’t play every game, but nor can Vermaelen (leaving aside the captain’s armband), and there’ll be enough football to go around as the season goes on. I like Mertesacker’s calmness and his reading of the game is exceptional. People talk about his lack of pace as this somehow precludes him from being a good defender but it couldn’t be further from the truth. Firstly, he’s not as slow as everyone seems to think and secondly, you need a lot more than pace to be a good centre-half/footballer.

If he struggled at times last season he wasn’t alone and he was part of an Arsenal team whose focus on defence wasn’t obvious as it is with this team. The way we play now seems to suit him, highlighted by the piece Arsenal.com did about how he and Mikel Arteta combine to good effect, and having his experience at the back (especially when he can talk the still inexperienced Carl Jenkinson through games) is a great asset.

I don’t expect any changes to the centre of our defence for the trip to the Middle Eastlands on Sunday and we’ll get more team news this morning when Arsene holds his pre-game press conference. Updates on that will be on Arseblog News, as well as all the other stories of the day.

Now though, on to this week’s Arsecast and joining me to discuss the week that was is Adrian Clarke. Southampton, Montpellier and Man City all up for discussion as well as your chance to win a signed book. There’s some poetry from TA in there and the usual bits and pieces of waffle.

You can subscribe to the Arsecast on iTunes by clicking here. Or if you want to subscribe directly to the feed URL you can do so too (this is a much better way to do it as you don’t experience the delays from iTunes). To download this week’s Arsecast directly – click here (24mb MP3) or you can listen directly below without leaving this very page.


Ok, that’s yer lot. Have a good Friday, till tomorrow.


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