Monday, April 22, 2024

Jack be nimble, as Santos departs

Morning all, happy Monday to you.

A quick one to kick off the week in the aftermath of Saturday’s 1-0 win over Stoke Sunderland. Arsene Wenger has spoken about Jack Wilshere being targetted, saying:

I don’t want to talk too much about that as I don’t want to transform the player to a paranoia attitude. Just be natural and play your game and it is down to the referees to protect him when it is needed.

Clever stuff from the manager, really. I know Stoke Sunderland were fairly robust the other day, and although it was a cynical block which forced Wilshere off I don’t think he was particularly singled out. It was Aaron Ramsey who was nearly chopped in half by Lee Cattermole, and the Welshman took a couple of heavy challenges – including one nasty stamp on his foot. Cazorla was clattered, and in the second half Arteta bore the brunt as O’Neill’s team tried to force Arsenal into losing concentration.

But Wilshere’s style of play is such that he’s always liable to take some hits. He reminds me of Cesc in that regard; when passing he tends to let go of the ball right at the last possible second which gives him more time to get away from his marker but also leaves him more open to being smashed by an opponent. How many times have we winced since his comeback when he’s been caught and gone down in a heap?

Stoke Sunderland didn’t really go after him more or less than any other team we’ve played this season but now Wenger is putting it up to the officials after a kick has left Wilshere sidelined for a little bit. It’s classic stuff, lots of managers do it and Wenger is right to do it too – especially after a refereeing performance which left a lot to be desired. I have no complaints about the sending off, Jenkinson’s red card was fully deserved, but it was hard to think he applied the same stricture to both sides.

So if, in future, referees have a little think about how Wilshere is treated on the pitch then all the better for us. It’s not a bad thing that people like Alan Shearer are talking about him being England captain one day. Leaving aside this thing people have with being England captain, like it’s the greatest honour the game can bestow upon a player, you only have to look at Shearer to see what advantages it brings. You can pretty much do what you want and officialdom will err on the side of caution.

Jack’s emergence as an important part of Roy Hodgson’s team will, hopefully, ensure that referees take appropriate action when necessary. Not that he should get special protection – and Arsene has made it clear he’s not looking for that – just that he’s given what he should be given. And when you say it ‘out loud’, it’s nonsensical that any player should be afforded more than any other because of his nationality and/or national team status, but that’s the truth of it.

Elsewhere, Andre Santos looks set to sign for Gremio on loan, saying:

I’ve come to Gremio to be a champion. I am very excited about this project. I have dreamed of working with Vanderlei Luxemburgo. He is a top manager in our football.

Arsenal’s trolley dash at the end of August 2011 was, for the most part, pretty successful. Mertesacker and Arteta are established, important components of the team, while Yossi Benayoun’s loan move was a fruitful one despite him spending a bit too much time on the bench during a mid-season funk. But Santos hasn’t worked. He’s clearly a very popular guy in the dressing room, seems a nice chap and all, but from a footballing point of view it’s been a bit of a disaster.

I think he’s a better player than he’s given credit for but he’s not a traditional left-back in any sense of the word, and has really struggled to adapt to English football. I remember the Chelsea game last season, he had a first half so utterly abject it seemed impossible he’d come out for the second, but he did and within 2 minutes had scored. He wasn’t helped by injury either, in fairness, but nor did he help himself by lumbering through games when a bit more effort would have gone a long way to shielding him from criticism.

I think, as others have said, he became something of a lightning rod for bigger issues. Anger at van Persie and the club for selling him was directed at Santos for a foolish, but not malicious incident at half-time at Old Trafford, and he’s never recovered from that. So, even if it is a loan move, at least he’s going somewhere to play rather than sit around and pick up his wages, but with Vermaelen injured (possibly worse than we know right now), and Monreal cup-tied in Europe, we may be left somewhat short at the back. Yet clearly the manager has decided it’s best for both parties if he goes on his way.

Good luck to him, I’m glad of his goal against West Brom on the final day of last season, and we’ll always have this to remember him by:

Right, that’s yer lot for this morning. News throughout the day on Arseblog News. Till tomorrow.

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