Arsenal injury probe: Emirates pitch and training under review
Nothing off limits as Gunners try to get to bottom of injury problem for once and for all
Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere may have made a miraculous recovery from an ankle injury and has been passed fit to face Galatasaray in the Champions League at the Emirates tonight, but that does not mean manager Arsene Wenger is unconcerned about the glut of injuries that the Gunners have faced this season.
Wilshere, Mikel Arteta and Aaron Ramsey all limped out of Saturday's north London derby against Spurs. Oliver Giroud and Mathieu Debuchy are also out with long-term injuries, Theo Walcott is yet to return after nine months out with a knee injury and several other key members of the squad have also missed games or been affected by fitness problems so far this season. Wenger will be without nine of his first team squad tonight.
It is not a new problem for Arsenal, whose title push last season was derailed by the absence of Walcott, Ramsey and Mesut Ozil for prolonged periods. It prompted Arsenal to launch an investigation into why they have suffered so badly with injuries and this summer the Gunners hired fitness coach Shad Forsythe, part of the German World Cup-winning set-up, as "head of athletic performance enhancement".
"Supporters have been asking for several years why Arsenal so often seem to be derailed by injuries," says the Daily Telegraph. Wenger has now "acted" says the paper, which reports that the club has begun an overhaul of "training and medical practices in an attempt to tackle their recurring injury problems". Nothing is off limits, adds the paper. "That includes his own methods, as well as even the playing surface at the Emirates Stadium."
The arrival of Forsythe "has done nothing to reduce the number of muscle injuries Arsenal have suffered," says The Times. "As a result, the club are widening the scope of their inquiries to consider other factors, such as the quality of the pitch at the Emirates Stadium and their training ground at London Colney."
Forsythe has made some adjustments, says The Guardian. "One change this season has been the sight of Arsenal's substitutes warming up far more regularly during games."
But the latest investigation is wide ranging and it is clear Wenger is determined to get to the bottom of the issue. "The manager has been questioned repeatedly over his training techniques, in terms of whether the sessions are sufficiently intense to prepare the players for the explosiveness of the Premier League," says the paper. "The overriding impression was of a manager with an itch he cannot quite reach."