Arsenal injury crisis down to outdated training methods

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As Arsenal stare down the barrel of another injury crisis, a fitness and conditioning expert has placed the blame on Arsene Wenger.

Fitness coach Raymond Verheijen believes the Arsenal boss and his "incompetent" training methods have led to the current injury problems at the Emirates Stadium.

Nine first team players are currently listed as injured at Arsenal with Mesut Ozil adding himself to that list after suffering a hamstring injury against Bayern Munich.

Aaron Ramsey, arguably Arsenal's best player in the first half of the season, hasn't appeared for the club since injuring his thigh against West Ham on Boxing Day.

The other significant injury is to Theo Walcott, who suffered cruciate ligament damage in his knee and will miss the rest of the season and the World Cup.

Verheijen says this is no coincidence and it all boils down to the training Wenger implements at London Colney. 

"An injury could be bad luck but that is the exception to the rule. In contact sports occasionally there is an unlucky injury but most injuries are a result of overloading the body... doing the wrong workload at the wrong time or in the wrong sequence," he explained to the Daily Mirror.

He added: "The problem is with the way they train in general, but especially in pre-season.

"Over the years I’ve spoken with many Arsenal players and in certain periods of pre-seasons, they are trained as if they are in the Marines, rather than playing in the Premier League."

"When you [train like a marine], first of all you develop short-term fitness. If you do it gradually then you’ll build-up long-term fitness for nine-10 months.

"If you get fit really quickly then you develop shorter-term fitness that only last around 3-4 months.

"This is the traditional way of training, that players are hammered in preseason, and this is obviously an issue at Arsenal but they are not alone - our friends in Manchester are the same."

This is not the first time Verheijen has criticised the big boys in the Premier League. Not too long ago he labelled Manchester United manager David Moyes a "dinosaur" for the way he trains his players.

Moyes too has suffered a number of injuries this season mainly to Robin van Persie and Verheijen believes that the pre-season routine at both Manchester United and Arsenal is to blame for the growing number of players in the treatment room.

"By training so much in a short period of time you accumulate fatigue.

"When you get fatigue your nervous system becomes slower and that affects your coordination and the control over your body while you’re doing maximum explosive activities .

" Look what happened with Theo Walcott , he was out for a long period. They brought him back really well [in November]; he played 25 minutes, then 25 minutes then 45 minutes - so phase 1 of that rehab is building up match fitness - they gradually built up the game minutes and they did that really well.

"But Arsenal play two games a week, not one. This has nothing to do with match fitness but that you only have three days to recover not six days and you don’t have the recovery time.

"They played Theo five times in 16 days (90 mins) so instead of edging him in, they played him 90, 90, 90, 90, 90, so you accumulate fatigue, your nervous system becomes slower and fatigue is one of the biggest reasons for ACL injuries."

Although admitting to having a lot of respect for Wenger for his forsight with regards to financial fair play, Verheijen has bemoaned the Frenchman's lack of ability to adapt to new thinking.

When arriving at Arsenal he was seen as revolutionary with his training techniques but now everyone has caught up he risks falling into the prehistoric category.

"When Arsene Wenger came to Britain in them mid-90s his training methods were revolutionary. The fact that his training methods were seen as revolutionary say something about him, but more about the training methods in England at the time. He was a forward-thinking coach, but the problem with revolutionary people is that they’re only revolutionary once in their life, so twenty years on they become average. And then they become prehistoric.

"Truly revolutionary coaches keep changing and they keep the edge. Others do it once and then they keep things the same, they lose their edge.

"From another perspective, he deserves a lot of credit. I have al to of respect for Wenger if you look at how he dealt with the finances of the club. He was one of the few managers who implemented FFP before there was FFP. He is an idealist and I admire that in him. From an overall perspective, he deserves a lot of credit.

"I said two or three years ago that because of this policy the club was at a disadvantage because of this lack of spending, but Arsene Wenger was being proactive and saw FFP would arrive. Now it is here, Arsenal are ready for it and that’s why I’m not surprised that they’re doing well - second in the league and in the semis of the fa cup - it’s a feeling I had a few years ago.

"While everyone else is cutting costs, Arsenal are ready for it and they have momentum. Within that context, the training methods could destroy this golden opportunity for them. It’s self-destruction."

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