Smokin' Jack shows armchair fans are clueless - and Arsenal medics under scrutiny

By Avenell Dave

It takes a lot for Arsene Wenger to publicly admonish one of his own players in the manner in which he critisied Jack Wilshere last week.

Jack has had a fair few scrapes in the past, being drawn into incidents at nightclubs and the police that threatened to derail his career before it had even begun.

Before the injury which has hampered him for the best part of two years, Jack looked like a player with the world at his feet, quite literally.

That his form has not been so consistent since then is just part and parcel of the recovery process which, in his case, is taking longer than he would have hoped. 

The question I would like to ask is why Jack was out at all, given that his partner gave birth only a week ago and in my experience, especially for those in jobs that require travelling, staying at home to support the mother has come to be expected in the first couple of weeks or more.

Admit it, who didn't think that Jack was an accident waiting to happen on Sunday?

Nothing was going right for him, he was getting frustrated, he had been booked and looked for all the world as if a red card or a crucial bad pass was imminent (as at Swansea which almost gifted Bony a goal). 

Remember last season when Jack was sent off at Old Trafford?

I was getting inundated with texts from fellow Addicts worrying that he was going to combust. I thought it too.

So full credit to Jack and indeed to Wenger for keeping faith with him when the chips were down.

With Aaron Ramsey struggling with a slight niggle, Jack had to remain on but did enough to show he has the character to improve even he looks like Paul Scholes having lost his head. 

His goal may have been fortuitous but there was a lot more than that to his second half performance, which silenced the boo-boys at the Hawthorns and proved that he has the character to turn matches even when he is struggling. 

Jack has taken a lot of stick from Arsenal fans and while it would be easy to lambast him, he, along with Ramsey, are perhaps the two players who always give their all, never hide and show the grit and determination that past victorious Arsenal sides had in abundance.

There is a lot of pressure on him as the saviour of English football as well, but let's hope he can put all his troubles behind him and rediscover the form that makes him one of the most exciting talents in the game. 

And that point may well prove to be vital b=come the end of the season. 

On a separate note - and I know a lot is written about his - there was an interesting note in The Times today about Arsenal's injury woes. 

It's best summed up by simply copying what they say, but with state of the art facilities, you have to wonder why we have so many problems when it comes to fitness. It can't all be down to bad luck, especially when other top sides have so few comparable injuries. 

Arsenal fans have become accustomed to lengthy casualty lists in recent years, so perhaps the club have just been unlucky to have acquired injury-prone players? Not according to the following research.

This column looked at players who have been first-team regulars for Arsenal at any point over the past five years (34 players in all). These players have been unavailable for an average of 24.8 per cent of Arsenal’s league games because of injury or illness during their time at the club (923 out of 3,729 matches).

Of those 34 players, 27 have also played elsewhere at some stage during these past five years. When those 27 players were at different clubs, they were only unavailable through injury or illness for 15.7 per cent of the league matches played by those teams (371 out of 2,361).

So on this evidence, Arsenal players are sidelined one game in four, but those at other clubs are only unavailable one game in six.

Whatever the reason for Arsenal’s persistent injury problems, they are seeking to end their eight-year trophy drought with one hand tied behind their back as usual.

A final thought: Seeing the Spuds ground empty way before the end and fans crying as if they'd just been relegated almost makes up for dropping two points.