Wilshere England jinx: Arsenal season could be scuppered

Mar 7, 2014
Bill Mann

Gunners' midfielder misses six weeks as Wenger's injury woe continues

THERE’S something about an England shirt that does bad things to Jack Wilshere's body. A jinx, a curse, call it what you will, and there is no doubt Arsene Wenger is calling the circumstances of the latest injury to his midfielder many things. 

A heavy first-half challenge from Liverpool defender Daniel Agger during England's 1-0 victory over Denmark on Wednesday left Wilshere hobbling round the Wembley turf. He tried to play through the pain but came off in the second half and the initial diagnosis was just heavy bruising. 

But when Arsenal sent Wilshere for a scan on Thursday, X-rays revealed a hairline fracture to the navicular bone in his left foot that will sideline him for at least six weeks. The injury would have been bad enough for Wenger to stomach had  it happened during a Premier League clash but the fact Wilshere broke his foot playing in a pointless England friendly has, according to the Daily Mirror, left Wenger "fuming".

It was back in the summer of 2011 that we saw the first evidence of Wilshire's England jinx. Playing for the Three Lions against Switzerland in a Euro 2012 qualifier, the then 19-year-old damaged his ankle. A month later, during a pre-season friendly for Arsenal, Wilshere exacerbated the injury and didn't play again for 17 months.

Weeks after his return to fitness in the autumn of 2012 Wilshere was picked by Roy Hodgson for a midweek friendly against Sweden, to the irritation of Wenger. Wenger refused to criticize Hodgson publicly, instead taking aim at meaningless international friendlies deep into the Premier League season. "You don't know how the November friendlies can prepare you for a game in February," he said. "There are a lot of politics behind these games. When you see some teams travelling [long distances], you think: 'Is it more to pay back some corporation than prepare a team for the next official game?'"

Though Wilshere avoided injury against Sweden (appearing as a sub on the hour mark during the 4-2 defeat), he didn't in November 2013 when he played for England in another dull friendly against Germany just four days after playing against Chile. Though the calf injury wasn't that serious, Arsenal were reportedly "stunned" by Hodgson's decision to play the notoriously fragile midfielder twice in quick succession.

The latest injury is anything but minor and coming as it did in a friendly match against a disinterested Denmark will only deepen Wenger's animosity towards all things England. It also leaves the Arsenal coach facing another crisis in a season of unprecedented injury problems.

It began on the opening day of the season against Aston Villa when Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain injured his knee and spent five months in rehab. Lukas Podolski tore a hamstring in the second leg of the Champions League qualifier against Fenerbahce and was out until Boxing Day, that was the same day that Aaron Ramey suffered a thigh injury that has kept him out of action ever since. Then there have been the injuries to Mikel Arteta and Santi Carzola (four and five weeks respectively), not to mention the ruptured anterior cruciate ligament of Theo Walcott that ended his season in the first week of January. As for Abou Diaby (remember him?), he has been out for a year with a knee problem.

Now Wenger is deprived of Wilshere at a crucial juncture of the season that starts tomorrow with Arsenal's FA Cup sixth round clash with Everton. Wilshere will also miss the Gunners Champions League second leg tie against Bayern Munich as well as at least six league matches, including those of Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea and Manchester City.

Wenger has yet to give an official response to Wilshere's injury but when he does it's likely to be more than just a Gallic shrug of a shoulders and a casual 'C'est la Vie'. 

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