Mertesacker the new Verheijen? Per bemoans injury crisis

How can Arsenal be expected to compete for titles when they continually succumb to multiple losses through injury?

Arsenal's chances of securing fourth place in the Premier League have been heightened by the first team returns of accomplished players such as Aaron Ramsey and Mesut Ozil, asserts inspiring defensive leader Per Mertesacker on the club's official website.

There have been 80 reported muscular injuries at Arsenal since August, last year, with the most common complaints being hamstring and knee. The club have been knocked down two places from their previous top spot in the injury league, but still have Thomas Vermaelen (hamstring), Kieran Gibbs (ankle), Serge Gnabry (knee), Ryo Miyaichi (hamstring), Jack Wilshere (ankle), Theo Walcott and Abou Diaby (both knee), all sidelined.

"When you have your whole squad together for as long as possible, that can make a difference," Mertesacker, 29, is quoted to have said. "We suffered a bit in the second part of the season but now everyone is coming back to full fitness. We've had some long-term injuries and it's good to have them all back."

The German international continued: "We have the potential to be a very promising side in terms of title races, but if you can't keep your leading players fit all the time it makes it a lot more difficult."

Arsenal's struggles when it comes to fitness, injury and recovery are in stark contrast to the Chelsea experience, where Jose Mourinho enjoys a near full roster for the majority of the season. Clearly there is difference in training ground approach, with the Portuguese utilising more effective methods for a multi-competition season.

Mertesacker's bemoaning of Arsenal's injury problems come on the heels of fitness expert Raymond Verheijen's long-standing criticisms of the Gunners.

Verheijen has spoken out over Arsene Wenger's "marine-like" pre-season methods which are only good for short-term fitness, rather than for a 60+game football season, described Aaron Ramsey's treatment as "disastrous" but has provided detail on how Arsenal can move forward with regard to their long-term planning.

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