Jack Wilshere accepts misconduct charge; Arsenal will try to get ban reduced


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?

Agent: “There’s no hatred” between Bale, Ronaldo

Gareth Bale & Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid CF
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Gareth Bale doesn’t at all dislike Cristiano Ronaldo — or vice versa — despite what may seem a lukewarm on-field relationship between the two Real Madrid superstars, insists Jonathan Barnett, agent of Bale.

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Instead, Barnett insists that the two men with very different personalities have a healthy relationship, and competition, that pushes each Galactico to be the best player he can be.

Barnett, on Bale’s relationship with Ronaldo — quotes from the Guardian:

“They don’t go out eating every night together, but it’s fine. There’s no hatred there. Gareth is a quiet guy. They’re complete opposites. But I think Gareth can learn a little bit from Ronaldo as well, interacting maybe a little bit. But he wants his own life and he lives it. Gareth is a great footballer, he doesn’t want anything more. He has some very good endorsements but his whole life is to be the best footballer in the world. I don’t think he wants to be the best model in the world or the best underwear seller. That’s not him.”

That’s a hilarious closing quote from Barnett, but he knows exactly how some folks are going to interpret it: “Bale thinks Ronaldo loves himself too much.”

[ MORE: Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott ]

There’s nothing better for the ultimate success of a team than healthy, friendly competition between teammates who are spectacularly talented as Ronaldo and Bale. The former will only be around to perform at his current level for so much longer, but at what point does the latter officially take the torch and supplant Madrid’s biggest star, and how accepting will he be of passing that proverbial torch?

Olivier Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott

Olivier Giroud, France
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Is it just me, or does the press really only ever get noteworthy quotes from players during international breaks?

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I suppose it’s not surprising, given Premier League players get away from the mean ole British press, go back to their respective homelands and speak with journalists they’ve likely known since their early playing days, thus feel more comfortable opening up about key issues.

Anyway, today we have Olivier Giroud essentially calling himself out for having lost the starting striker’s job at Arsenal because he’s been outplayed of late by Theo Walcott. As discussed before, this is bad news for Giroud because he’s now falling down the depth chart for France with next summer’s European Championship on the horizon.

[ MORE: Aguero admits he wants Guardiola link-up ]

Giroud, on losing his place at Arsenal — quotes from the Guardian:

“At Arsenal, I am in competition with Theo for the striker position. But he is doing well at the moment, so there is no reason to change.

“Whether it was at Tours, Montpellier or Arsenal, I have never experienced a situation like this, I have often played from the start. I need to take positives and to harden myself mentally. It is something new for me.

“I was in [Walcott’s] place in previous seasons at Arsenal. I imagine what he must have been thinking. But I feel that the coach believes in me.”

Giroud goes on to cast into doubt his own confidence, stating in very certain terms he needs “to believe more in [his] abilities.” Giroud’s always come across as a bit of an existentialist, but it’s always strange to hear players publicly call themselves out — particularly their confidence — as if that’s not going to increase the pressure currently weighing down on them.

[ MORE: Rodgers reportedly chosen to take over at Aston Villa ]

The next eight months are going to be monumentally important in Giroud’s career, as the 29-year-old attempts to prove he’s worth keeping around at Arsenal and deserving of a place in the national team squad for next summer’s EUROs, which are to be played in France.