Arsene Wenger has called on referees to give Jack Wilshere more protection following Saturday’s win at Sunderland, but the Arsenal manager also needs to do his bit.
Wilshere has endured a nightmare run with injuries since 2011, during which time the England international missed the best part of 18 months through various injuries.
Many cite the main contributing factor behind the injuries to be that the player had been suffering from ‘burn out’, brought on from being played too often for a man so young. Arsenal had become so reliant on their teenage sensation that Wenger was unable to give Wilshere a rest even when the player was playing on empty.
Since his return from injury in October, Wilshere has carried on in much the same vein, playing almost every minute of every game. Having only been back from injury a matter of weeks, Wenger even played Wilshere 3 times in a week, a sign of their reliance on their box to box midfielder. A near 18-month lay off is bound to take its toll on any player and although Wilshere is still very young, there is a real fear in football that Wenger risks burning Wilshere out once more.
Upon Wilshere’s man of the match performance for England following a 90 minute run out against Brazil last week, Wenger was the first to come out and express his disappointment that Wilshere was played for the whole game and not taken off. However, if the player was to suffer any future injuries as a result of burnout, the blame should be placed at Wenger’s door for not managing his man’s return to the team better. Equally, if Wenger were to spend a bit more of the disposable cash that we keep hearing is sitting in the Arsenal account on midfield reinforcements, his team may not be so heavily dependent on a player who has the tools to go on and be one of England’s finest for years to come.
In calling for more protection for Wilshere, Wenger was looking more towards the industrial challenges that are going in his midfield maestro. The fact of the matter is that Wilshere has a side to his game that involves him putting in the odd ‘industrial’ challenge himself. It is a part of his game that should be applauded and not coached out. The more ‘robust’ element, of football is a side of the game that is unfortunately becoming a thing of the past. Fans don’t want to see their players pull out of tackles for fear of getting injured and when players tackle correctly without become dirty, it is still a part of the game that is excellent to see.
In any case, a couple of said challenges were made by Lee Cattermole, so neither Wilshere or Wenger should take it personally.