Hodgson:”I’ll leave Jack’s issues with Arsene”

England boss Roy Hodgson is trusting Arsene Wenger to sort out Jack Wilshere’s smoking issues and has continued to back the youngster at international level. 

The England boss said: “I trust Arsene to deal with that situation. He will make it clear, I’m sure, to Jack what his responsibilities are. I’ve had no problems of that nature with Jack, so I don’t need to involve myself in it. 

“Jack’s an Arsenal player who also plays for England. If Arsene thinks it’s also good for me to have a word with Jack I’ll be more than happy to do so but, as far as I’m concerned, it’s Arsenal’s responsibility.”

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Gunners ahead in race for Bakkali

Arsenal are ahead of Manchester City and Manchester United in the race to sign PSV Eindhoven starlet Zakaria Bakkali.  

The 17 year old is unable to sign professional terms with PSV until his 18thbirthday in January, and even should he agree a deal understood to be until 2015, the Premier League trio are hopeful of landing the youngster.

Bakkali has made 12 appearances for PSV this season, scoring four goals including a hat-trick on his home professional league debut against NEC Nijmegen and has already been compared to Eden Hazard, the Belgian international.

Belgium team boss Marc Willmots said:  “Zakaria is a player who scores easily, is very fast and has skilful dribbling.”

“Zakaria has just about the same profile as Eden [Hazard]. If something happens to Eden, I will swap him [for Bakkali].”
 
The Gunners have been watching the youngster for several months.

ALAN SMITH SEES TROUBLED TIMES FOR WILSHERE

ImageFormer Arsenal striker Alan Smith sees a difficult season ahead for Jack Wilshere.

And the Sky pundit reckons if the the player has not enjoyed the season so far things may get worse before they get better.

He told the Daily Telegraph: “Jack Wilshere, I am sure, will not have enjoyed the bulk of his season. It will have felt like a grind when it should be so smooth.

“As it is, and as it painfully proved in the first half at the Hawthorns, Wilshere cannot rise above the crowd to stamp his authority on games that would normally see him call most of the shots.

“Part of the reason, I suspect, is a troublesome ankle that needs careful management from week to week.

“Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger, for now, cannot play him in every game, which means the player’s match fitness gets slightly compromised; that and his sharpness and awareness, his ability to see the tackle coming long before it does and either ride it with a skip or accelerate away.

“An inevitable bi-product is a dip in confidence. That feeling of superiority just is not there at the moment, meaning he grows frustrated and gets sucked into situations that are really best avoided.

“The first 45 minutes at the Hawthorns illustrated this perfectly. No matter how hard he tried, Wilshere could not put a foot right. Whether it was misplacing passes, overrunning dribbles or mistiming tackles, the midfielder suffered a torrid time.”

With the likes of Mesut Ozil, Aaron Ramsey and Mathieu Flamini performing so well in Arsenal’s midfield, Smith fears WIlshere could find it hard to win back his place.

“For the first time in his Arsenal career, Wilshere is being shoehorned into an unfamiliar position to find a way of fitting him into the team,” he said.

“As for what will happen when Santi Cazorla returns from injury, well that will all depend on Wilshere’s form at the time.

“If he plays like he did in the first half at the Hawthorns on Sunday, a place on the bench is not out of the question.”

WENGER DEAL VERY CLOSE

Arsene Wenger is being reported as being close to agreeing a two year Arsenal contract extension. 

He is still talking to the club but according to goal.com a deal is now imminent.

His current £7.5 million-a-year agreement expires next summer but the website claims the 64 year old and the club’s hierarchy have all but reached agreement on the terms of the deal, which will be backed up with bonuses but is not expected to include a basic salary increase.  

Wenger indicated last month he was ready to put pen to paper saying:  “The good thing with me, if I have one quality, you don’t need a lot of talks to extend the contract I have. [I will sign] when we find time. I don’t think that’s the most important problem at the moment.

“I would love to be here forever because that would mean I would be immortal. What I would like to do as long as I’m here is to give my best for this club because I love the club, of course.”

 

 

 

WBA v GUNNERS The line-ups

LINE-UPS – West Brom v Arsenal (1600 BST)

West Brom: Myhill, Billy Jones, McAuley, Olsson, Ridgewell, Yacob, Mulumbu, Amalfitano, Sessegnon, Anelka, Berahino. Subs: Popov, Morrison, Rosenberg, Long, Brunt, Lugano, Luke Daniels.

Arsenal: Szczesny, Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs, Arteta, Flamini, Ramsey, Ozil, Wilshere, Giroud. Subs: Vermaelen, Monreal, Fabianski, Bendtner, Miyaichi, Gnabry, Rosicky.

Referee: Lee Mason (Lancashire)