Over the last few years Arsenal have probably experienced more than their fair share of injuries on and off pitch and with this week’s rumour that Sporting Lisbon’s midfielder William Carvalho and Real Madrid’s Sami Kheidra may well be on Arsene Wenger’s list of potential signings it’s clear that whoever comes on board will have to have a pretty blemish free health and fitness record in order to make the grade.
Arsenal have been desperately trying to put an end to their injury woes by employing the German national side’s fitness coach, US born Shad Forsythe to help them gain momentum. Club Chief Executive Ivan Gazidis said that Forsythe’s appointment was part of a fuller ongoing investigation into why the club did have such a poor track record for injuries.
During the 2013/14 season there was no other single Premiership side that lost more players to injury than Arsenal, meaning that at the most crucial points in the season Wenger was left without a core team of key players. At one point, Theo Walcott, Abou Diaby and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain all sustained cruciate ligament injuries and further down the line Kieran Gibbs, Lucas Podolski and Mesut Ozil all suffered from hamstring problems.
Looking at the wider picture, why might this be? Well, everyone has a theory. Some are blaming it on the medical team as a whole, whilst some are simply blaming it on over-training and harsh exercise regimes which are causing wider and deeper damage to the tendons, muscles and ligaments, which are not being given a chance to heal before even more repetitive strain is put on them. Over training and muscle trauma accounts for over half of all sports injuries across the board and not just in football, or indeed at Arsenal itself. However, over training and too much exercise is also part of a wider issue that doesn’t just encompass the physical aspect of the game. Studies have shown that footballers in general can be just as susceptible to developing exercise addictions as those who take part in non-competitive sports or individual events. Perhaps as a wider approach to tackling the problem of constant first team injuries, the Arsenal camp might do well to also look at how their players are faring mentally as well as physically too. Maybe Shad Forythe’s appointment will spark an all round change that works for the greater good of the team.