Gunners hit by fresh smoking storm


Published: Thursday 5th February 2015 by The News Editor

Comments (0)

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger will again be left to deflect questions over off-field issues when he faces the media ahead of Saturday’s north-London derby against Tottenham after photos of Jack Wilshere holding a shisha pipe at a nightclub were posted on social media.

The Gunners are to seek clarification from Wilshere, currently recovering from ankle surgery, over the circumstances of the incident, which is understood to have happened during a night out with friends in central London last week.

A picture of Wilshere was uploaded to Instagram, before being removed and replaced with an edited version where only the face of the Arsenal player is visible in the background.

However, the original snap, where the England international held the shisha pipe, was then subsequently reposted on Twitter, sparking much debate across social media as to the player’s behaviour ahead of Saturday’s north London derby at Tottenham

Arsenal take a dim view on players smoking.

In January, goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny was hit with a £25,000 fine after it emerged he lit up in the showers following the 2-0 defeat at Southampton on New Year’s Day, since when the Pole has not started a Barclays Premier League match.

Wilshere’s representatives said they had nothing further to add when contacted by the Press Association on Thursday.

The latest revelations around Wilshere – criticised in the past for two high-profile incidents of being pictured with a cigarette, the previous occasion while on holiday in Las Vegas last summer with England goalkeeper Joe Hart following the 2014 World Cup – will come as an unwelcome distraction to Wenger as he prepares his squad for Saturday’s lunchtime kick off at White Hart Lane, with the subject now set to dominate the agenda at Friday’s morning media conference.

Leading scorer Alexis Sanchez will again be out because of a hamstring injury which saw him miss the 5-0 win over Aston Villa, but England forward Danny Welbeck is in line to make a return after being out since December 28 with a thigh problem.

Wenger confirmed to the Arsenal club website: “Alexis is not ready. He is not far away, the Leicester game is a possibility. He is of course very difficult to keep quiet. He is training, but it’s light training.”

Wenger added Wilshere was set to be “back in full training next week, hopefully from Sunday.”

England forward Theo Walcott, meanwhile, is relishing the prospect of the derby atmosphere as Arsenal look to keep the pressure up on the top four.

Walcott has just returned to full fitness after the best part of a year on the sidelines when suffering a serious knee injury in the closing minutes of the FA Cup third-round win over Spurs at the Emirates Stadium in January 2014.

The 25-year-old was carried off on a stretcher in front of the away supporters, some of whom threw objects to which the player responded with a 2-0 hand gesture.

Walcott, whose injury shattered his World Cup dreams, thrives on the rivalry.

“This is a massive game and it is all about the bragging rights,” Walcott said in the London Evening Standard.

“Things like that have happened in the past and it won’t be forgotten about, I am sure, but it is one thing I have moved on from.

“Every player will get stick I am sure, but it is about just trying to go out there and perform.”

Walcott, who has scored in successive appearances since his return from a niggling groin problem, added: “Any criticism won’t affect me at all. It is enjoyable – it is a bit different and is always a great atmosphere at White Hart Lane.

“It is probably the fixture I always look forward to playing in the most, to be fair.

“It is one of the biggest games for both sets of fans and this year it is going to be tight.”

Published: Thursday 5th February 2015 by The News Editor

Comments (0)

Local business search