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LUNGS IN CRISIS: Wenger Criticizes Wilshere For Smoking; British Papers Have A Laugh

Jack Wilshere's been a bad, bad boy, and Arsene Wenger went public with it, to the delight of the British media.

"The match is over! Time for a smoky treat!"
"The match is over! Time for a smoky treat!"
Michael Regan

Save for the injury-a-week storyline that can go away anytime it wants to now, it's all been chocolate fountains and unicorns for the Arsenal faithful of late -- what with the brilliance of new signing Mesut Özil, mastery of the Champions League "Group of Death," and a league form that has losing as a dim, hazy memory. There's even talk of newfound Arsenal depth . . . but with that comes the unpleasant by-product of fretting from Anglophiles that Jack Wilshere won't be able to break into the Arsenal Starting XI once all the injured midfielders return.

And what's worse: he's smoking now.

This morning, a number of London news sites were sassily a-flame with news that Arsene Wenger publicly voiced displeasure that a photo was made public of Wilshere out clubbing and holding a cigarette after Tuesday evening's 2-0 victory over Napoli. Here are some choice samplings:

The Daily Mail:

Jack Wilshere will face the wrath of Arsene Wenger on Friday after the Arsenal midfielder was caught smoking outside a nightclub.

The England midfielder was pictured in a newspaper puffing on a cigarette and speaking with a blonde female after Arsenal's 2-0 victory against Napoli.

The normally-sober Sky Sports, quoting Wenger:

Well, I disagree completely with that behaviour. I need to have a chat with him about that. (What I say) I will leave between him and me. When you're a football player you're an example, and you don't do what damages your health. You can damage your health at home - you can smoke or drink at home - and nobody sees it, but when you're out socially, you damage your reputation as well.

And this additional gem from Wenger from the Sky Sports article:

You don't need to convince me because I must tell you, I travelled as a football player on coaches after games in France where you didn't see each other, there was so much smoke on the coach. Everybody smoked, but times have changed, and the healthy worry, the example, the role models from the football players request has changed as well. I must say as well, English society is very sensitive to smoking, much more than France, more than southern (European) countries, so it is a bit more shocking here than it is somewhere else.

(Smoke on the coach. Heh.)

A link to the photo in question, from the never-sober The Sun.

And an explanation of sorts, from The Guardian:

"Wilshere's representatives maintained the player was taking part in a "prank" where he agreed to hold the cigarette as part of a "dare," stressing he was "utterly committed to fitness and a healthy lifestyle."

The England international himself responded this afternoon by posting a photograph on his official Twitter feed of France World Cup winner Zinedine Zidane smoking, which he then followed it up with a post of 'But for the record....I don't smoke!'"

Here are the tweets in question.

There's no official word yet on Wilshere's status for the expected smoking of West Bromwich Albion on Sunday.