Why Arsenal are right to veto Jack Wilshere’s England overkill

Gunners midfielder has already played too many games this season

ARSENE Wenger had seen the warning signs already this season, and at Stoke on Sunday so did everybody else.

The indications that Jack Wilshere is slowly running himself into the ground. After more than 40 appearances this season he has, in Wenger’s words, ‘hit the wall’.

His dip in form in recent weeks is entirely understandable. Wilshere has been Arsenal’s outstanding midfielder this season, his meteoric rise being rewarded with a first England cap against Denmark in February, and the PFA Young Player of the Year award in April, the two crowning moments of his fledgling career to date.

But as Arsenal’s season has come crashing down around then in the last two months, Arsenal’s young midfielder seems to have suffered more than most.


You may also want to watch:


Wilshere appeared jaded against Stoke, and his reckless tackle on Jermaine Pennant which should have drawn a red card was perhaps borne out of frustration at the standard of his and his team-mates’ performance as Arsenal’s title chances finally vanished.

It was clear to everybody watching at the Britannia, as it has been to Wenger for weeks, that Wilshere needs a rest this summer, a chance to recharge his batteries after a season which has been physically and emotionally draining.

Most Read

But he is unlikely to get one, after England Under-21 boss Stuart Pearce confirmed that Wilshere is included in his initial 40-man squad for June’s European Championship in Denmark. That means, assuming Wilshere is first choice in Pearce’s midfield, the youngster will follow the domestic season with up to a month’s extension for international football.

His selection has drawn understandable consternation from Wenger, who urged the FA to ‘act responsibly’ over the teenager, and says that playing Wilshere in Denmark will almost certainly force him to miss the opening weeks of next season.

“Using him after such a long season can make Jack not available in August or maybe until the beginning of September,” said Wenger. “No matter what happens I will have to give him at least four weeks’ holiday after the tournament – they finish at the end of June and he will not come back until the end of July and then he needs three to four weeks at least to prepare the season.”

Wenger has, of course, seen this all before, in one of Wilshere’s own team-mates – Theo Walcott.

Walcott knows all about burnout. Having featured 35 times for Arsenal in the 2008/09 campaign, during which he was on a high after his dazzling hat-trick against Croatia in September of that season, the winger then played a full part in England ’s 2009 Under-21 European Championship.

He paid a devastating price. His progress the following season curtailed by a series of injuries, he played in fits and starts and was dropped by Capello from the 2010 World Cup squad.

Like Walcott, a sense of youthful patriotism has been enough to convince Wilshere that he must play this summer, but as Wenger rightly points out, it cannot be his decision.

It is sometimes easy to forget that Wilshere is not yet 20 years of age, but as such, and as a player regarded as the future of both Arsenal and England, he needs protection, and it is the duty of the Football Association and of Capello to provide that protection. So far, neither party seem willing to offer it.

Having established himself in the senior England side, the only sensible choice should have been for Wilshere to be automatically by excluded from the Under-21 squad, which, after all, is a vehicle for a young player’s progression to the senior side, a step which Wilshere has already taken.

Instead, Capello and Pearce seem to want it all. Victory in the European Championship would be a feather in Pearce’s cap, and Capello, meanwhile, will no doubt call on Wilshere for England’s friendly against Holland in August, and the Euro 2012 qualifier against Bulgaria the following month.

Earlier this season Walcott gave an enlightening insight into Wilshere’s character. “He [Wilshere] is the sort of lad that no matter who comes up to him, he has his own ideas – he is very strong mentally. He just wants to play games.”

Such youthful exuberance is a virtue which Wenger has always tried to nurture and protect at Arsenal. But others seem reluctant to do the same and, sadly, the one who may pay the price is not Capello, Pearce, the FA or even Wenger, but Wilshere himself.

ARSENE Wenger had seen the warning signs already this season, and at Stoke on Sunday so did everybody else.

The indications that Jack Wilshere is slowly running himself into the ground. After more than 40 appearances this season he has, in Wenger’s words, ‘hit the wall’.

His dip in form in recent weeks is entirely understandable. Wilshere has been Arsenal’s outstanding midfielder this season, his meteoric rise being rewarded with a first England cap against Denmark in February, and the PFA Young Player of the Year award in April, the two crowning moments of his fledgling career to date.

But as Arsenal’s season has come crashing down around then in the last two months, Arsenal’s young midfielder seems to have suffered more than most.

Wilshere appeared jaded against Stoke, and his reckless tackle on Jermaine Pennant which should have drawn a red card was perhaps borne out of frustration at the standard of his and his team-mates’ performance as Arsenal’s title chances finally vanished.

It was clear to everybody watching at the Britannia, as it has been to Wenger for weeks, that Wilshere needs a rest this summer, a chance to recharge his batteries after a season which has been physically and emotionally draining.

But he is unlikely to get one, after England Under-21 boss Stuart Pearce confirmed that Wilshere is included in his initial 40-man squad for June’s European Championship in Denmark. That means, assuming Wilshere is first choice in Pearce’s midfield, the youngster will follow the domestic season with up to a month’s extension for international football.

His selection has drawn understandable consternation from Wenger, who urged the FA to ‘act responsibly’ over the teenager, and says that playing Wilshere in Denmark will almost certainly force him to miss the opening weeks of next season.

“Using him after such a long season can make Jack not available in August or maybe until the beginning of September,” said Wenger. “No matter what happens I will have to give him at least four weeks’ holiday after the tournament – they finish at the end of June and he will not come back until the end of July and then he needs three to four weeks at least to prepare the season.”

Wenger has, of course, seen this all before, in one of Wilshere’s own team-mates – Theo Walcott.

Walcott knows all about burnout. Having featured 35 times for Arsenal in the 2008/09 campaign, during which he was on a high after his dazzling hat-trick against Croatia in September of that season, the winger then played a full part in England ’s 2009 Under-21 European Championship.

He paid a devastating price. His progress the following season curtailed by a series of injuries, he played in fits and starts and was dropped by Capello from the 2010 World Cup squad.

Like Walcott, a sense of youthful patriotism has been enough to convince Wilshere that he must play this summer, but as Wenger rightly points out, it cannot be his decision.

It is sometimes easy to forget that Wilshere is not yet 20 years of age, but as such, and as a player regarded as the future of both Arsenal and England, he needs protection, and it is the duty of the Football Association and of Capello to provide that protection. So far, neither party seem willing to offer it.

Having established himself in the senior England side, the only sensible choice should have been for Wilshere to be automatically by excluded from the Under-21 squad, which, after all, is a vehicle for a young player’s progression to the senior side, a step which Wilshere has already taken.

Instead, Capello and Pearce seem to want it all. Victory in the European Championship would be a feather in Pearce’s cap, and Capello, meanwhile, will no doubt call on Wilshere for England’s friendly against Holland in August, and the Euro 2012 qualifier against Bulgaria the following month.

Earlier this season Walcott gave an enlightening insight into Wilshere’s character. “He [Wilshere] is the sort of lad that no matter who comes up to him, he has his own ideas – he is very strong mentally. He just wants to play games.”

Such youthful exuberance is a virtue that Wenger has always tried to nurture and protect at Arsenal. But others seem reluctant to do the same and, sadly, the one who may pay the price is not Capello, Pearce, the FA or even Wenger, but Wilshere himself.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter