Verheijen: Wenger's 'Marine-like' pre-season to blame for injuries

The 'very hard' pre-season endured by Arsenal players is at fault for conditioning a short-term fitness within the club's athletes, rather than long-term.

The fact that Arsenal endure an injury crisis every season is not coincidental, it is, in the words of fitness guru Raymond Verheijen who was speaking to BBC Radio earlier this week, "clearly a trend".

The Gunners currently have nine established members of their squad on their injury list, with many of those having suffered muscular complaints. Had Arsenal adopted a less intensive pre-season practice and built up their players' collective fitness then they may not have suffered so many injuries and so many setbacks of the same injury.

"The most important thing is the way they do the pre-season," commented Verheijen. "It is very hard - almost like in the Marines. It is hard training and it is well known in conditioning that if you train your players too much too soon in pre-season, you increase injury rate."

Verheijen implies that some coaches and managers may not understand this immediately as there will be improvements in short-term fitness, yet this is detrimental when a club season spans nine months. Players, therefore, require longer-term fitness.

"[The intensive pre-seasons] develop short term fitness. I.e - only lasting three or four months.

"Wenger arrived 20 years ago and everybody saw him as revolutionary but first of all he was only relatively revolutionary to what people in England were used to, but he was doing what we on the continent already knew in Spain, Germany and Holland.

"The problem with revolutionaries is that it only happens once in your life and not consistently. After 10 years everybody catches up and you are average. Then another ten years people surpass you and leave you behind - which is what is happening at Arsenal.

"Arsenal have suffered many impact injuries and soft tissue injuries. This is nothing to do with being in possession. If you are in possession you have to run and work less, [this is to do with their fitness training," concluded Verheijen.

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