Jack Wilshere’s not going to fight the English FA’s misconduct charge; probably a good thing, given he was caught by television cameras on Saturday raising his middle finger to the crowd during Arsenal’s 6-3 loss at Manchester City. After his performance at the Etihad Stadium, Wilshere’s source of frustration was understandable, even if his way of dealing with it wasn’t. Not only did his league-leading club get reminded of their own fallabilty, but Wilshere did very little to stop it.
The two-game ban The FA’s proposing is too much for Arsenal, however. According to tonight’s reporting from The Guardian, the Gunners are set to appeal the ban hoping the suspicion can be cut in half. Citing a one-match suspension handed to Luis Suárez two years ago for the same offense, Arsenal’s hoping precedent will win out.
There is the possibility The FA, with the virtue of hindsight, now see that punishment as insufficient, though Arsenal seems to think the difference between getting caught on video (Wilshere) versus in pictures unfairly accounts for the extra day, perhaps reflecting a desire to deter players from soiling those images being sold to broadcast partners. As much as Arsenal’s contention makes sense, it doesn’t take the most active imagination to think of a scenarios where The FA would want to up the ban.
There are also mitigating factors, Arsenal says. Wilshere was the subject of abuse from fans in Manchester, but on an occasional like City-Arsenal, which Gunner isn’t going to hear a foul word from the crowd. Although there’s a line (and Arsenal may very well show something crossed that line), in the large preponderance of circumstances, it’s not too much to expect a player to refrain from flipping off the crowd. It’s just not that hard to do.
The big lingering issue here, one that was hinted at by Kyle Martino this weekend on Match of the Day, is about frustrations boiling over. When you see a player like Wilshere exhibit some out-of-character behaviors, it’s not unreasonable to ask what else is contributing to this. Is it personal frustrations at not playing well? Team-level issues at being played wide more often after the acquisition of Mathieu Flamini and emergence of Aaron Ramsey? Or was this just a young man having a bad day, unintentionally giving himself a learning experience?
The debate between one and two games is interesting in so far as there are two intriguing sides, but the more meaningful problem rests with Wilshere. Why did he lose it in Saturday’s second half?