Sunderland vs. Arsenal: Gunners' UCL Hopes Rest on Jack Wilshere's Injury

Mike ShiekmanFeatured ColumnistFebruary 9, 2013

SUNDERLAND, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 09:  Jack Wilshere of Arsenal moves away from Lee Cattermole of Sunderland during the Barclays Premier League match between Sunderland and Arsenal at the Stadium of Light on February 9, 2013 in Sunderland, England.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

As Arsenal fans wait on the news of Jack Wilshere’s leg, they should be holding their breath.

As it stands, the Gunner’s midfielder holds the key to the club’s Champions League bid.

Wilshere limped off of the pitch five minutes after the interval against Sunderland, the Premier League's official Twitter page reported:

It seems Wilshere will need less than a week to get back healthy, though, as Arsene Wenger told reporters (via George Culkin of The Times):

While Theo Walcott may get more publicity, many would name Wilshere as Arsenal’s most valuable player. Many of their offensive sets run through the tactically-sound midfielder, and he has been a source of youthful aggression throughout this season.

But there is an elephant in the room here: Wilshere’s injury history. He had to sit out all of the 2011-12 Premier League season and the London Olympics due to an injured ankle.

Meanwhile, in the Premier League table, the Champions League bids are up for grabs. Arsenal currently sits in fifth place, only five and six points behind Tottenham and Chelsea, respectively.

Their offense has been the catalyst for so many wins thus far; their 50 goals equal the third-highest total among EPL members. If Wilshere had to sit for an indefinite period, though, their scoring abilities would suffer significantly.

Wenger has already made the appropriate reaction to protect his star on the fixture. The Gunners’ manager called for better protection for his midfielder following the Sunderland match (per Sky Sports).

"The referee let two or three things go that I thought were fouls on Jack," he said. "I just want the referee to give a foul when it's a foul. I don't want any special protection."

While it seems he will be available in next week’s match against the Blackburn Rovers, Wilshere’s fragility has been exposed. It’s something that Wenger will want to pay close attention to for the EPL home stretch.


Mike Shiekman is a Breaking News Writer for Bleacher Report. Follow his sports musings and random life observations on Twitter.