In further evidence that I’m less intelligent than I think I am, an interesting paradox to say the least, news is out that Jack Wilshere’s ankle injury is serious enough to knock him out for three weeks, meaning he’ll miss the match against Bayern as well as against Swansea. I don’t mind much at all that he’ll miss Bayern; in fact, I’d prefer that he rest even if he was 100%. Missing Swansea is the bigger hit, as it makes an already-tricky match that much trickier. If there’s good news in the announcement, it’s that the injury is to his other ankle, i.e., not the one he had surgery on last year. I hope we see Tomas Rosický come on against Bayern, if only to give him some match-time to prep for Swansea. His drive, determination, and energy are similar to Wilshere’s, even if they’re not on the same level.
Before we despair too mightily, I want to make a quick comparison that feels apt to me. In Michael Jordan’s second season with the Chicago Bulls, he broke his foot and missed most of the season, and they won a woeful 30 out of 82 games. More importantly, he went on to become one of the world’s most-famous and most-accomplished athletes, leading the Bulls to six championships in eight years. A similar parallel might be the Bulls’ Derrick Rose who injured his knee during last year’s playoffs and hasn’t played a minute this year. The team has performed admirably in his absence, but it’s essentially a lost cause–a full season in which we know the Bulls will not achieve anything significant. However, when he does return, the team will likely become odds-on favorites to vie for a championship next year. I’m not suggesting that Wilshere is ready to achieve similar feats. All I’m suggesting is that nothing is ever as final as it initially feels. Yes, it’s depressing to learn that Wilshere will be out for a while, and it certainly damages the team’s prospects for this year. In and of itself, it does not shut the door on a top-four finish. I’ll trade that top-four finish for a Jack Wilshere who is fit and healthy for next year, in fact. It might be heresy to admit that dropping out of the top four is acceptable, but it’s just one season. I look forward to a decade or more of Jack Wilshere in an Arsenal jersey, though, and imagine that he will bring the club back to glory, if not this year but for years to come.