Arsene Wenger is understood to have taken a dim view of Jack Wilshere’s latest smoking-related indiscretion and will speak to him about it, after the injured midfielder was pictured holding a shisha pipe in an Instagram post.
It is the third time that Wilshere has been caught either with a cigarette or in this case a pipe, and each time he has been spoken to by Wenger - himself was once such a committed smoker he would smoke on the bench while in charge of Monaco. The club are well aware that their player is in a cycle in which each time Wilshere is caught he apologises to his manager and then fails to keep his promise to change.
Wenger and his backroom staff will speak to the player about the matter and Wenger himself will have to address it again at his weekly press conference tomorrow. Out since 22 November with an ankle injury, Wilshere is close to coming back to full training again soon. The club have confirmed that Alexis Sanchez will miss Saturday’s north London derby against Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane although Danny Welbeck is fit and will return to the squad.
The Wilshere shisha picture, understood to have taken place during a night out at the Libertine bar in Mayfair, has since been deleted. This episode follows hard on the heels of Wojciech Szczesny being caught smoking in the changing room after the defeat to Southampton on 28 December. He was fined £25,000 and dropped - on form alone Wenger said at the time. Szczesny has been in the side just once since then, against Brighton in the FA Cup.
The Arsenal manager has indicated in the past that he is more concerned about his players drinking alcohol than smoking. However, with Wilshere, pictured smoking on a night out in London in 2013 and then again in Las Vegas last summer, the penny does not seem to have dropped that his behaviour undermines his manager’s public defence of him.
Arsenal have lost just twice in the last 15 games and in the absence of Wilshere and Mikel Arteta, Wenger seems to have hit upon a winning new midfield formation. The return to the squad of Francis Coquelin from his loan at Charlton Athletic has given the team a harder edge and the Frenchman has been offered a new contract.
On Sanchez, Wenger said: “Alexis is not ready. He is not far away, the Leicester game [on Tuesday] is a possibility. He is of course very difficult to keep quiet. He is training, but it's light training.”
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies