#Arsenal may be sitting pretty in fifth place in the Premier League table, just one point behind third-place Manchester United, yet they are in danger of off-field distractions derailing their Champions League qualifying ambitions, just as much as the on-field pressures during the matches to come it seems. The latest pictures on social media that depict key midfielder Jack Wilshere holding a shisha pipe at a nightclub, will hardly have pleased manager Arsene Wenger and helped his preparations, ahead of a potentially explosive local derby tomorrow against Spurs. The two London sides face each other in the early lunchtime kick-off at White Hart Lane, with the home side themselves enjoying a vibrant season and jostling with the Gunners in the league, just two points behind them.
Despite the suggestive images, Wenger insists that the England international is "not a smoker", although he has twice in the past had to reprimand him for similar incidents, when photographs did indeed show him smoking. He has accepted Wilshere's apologies regarding the latest incident, but believes that "one second of your life does not define who you are" and added that Wilshere needs to "master his own life."
The pictures open up the potential accusation of a smoking culture being in existence at the Emirates, after previous incidents involving goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny came to light, when the Polish international was caught smoking in the showers. That followed his side's defeat at St Mary's against Southampton, when Wenger was again quick to reprimand his player for his actions and it is believed that the player was fined in the region of £20,000.
Wenger has, however, suggested in the past that he does not believe that smoking the occasional cigarette has an adverse effect on a player's performance during a game, which could be suggestive of a certain tolerance for such behaviour in his players. Wenger has also previously publicly criticised William Gallas for smoking in public, although he himself was frequently pictured smoking in the dugout, during his time as manager of Monaco. #Celebrities #FootballWenger is of the general opinion that it is out on the pitch where the players should be judged, as that is what the fans are really concerned about. Certainly, Wilshere is not the only high-profile footballer to have been 'caught out' while smoking, with ex- England full-back Ashley Cole and current England captain Wayne Rooney, both having been snapped in the past enjoying a cigarette while on holiday. The genius that was Zinedine Zidane was also a smoker on occasions, yet he still won a World Cup with France during his glittering career.