A calf injury sustained in Arsenal’s final pre-season game of the summer has been a key reason for Laurent Koscielny’s drop in form this season, according to Arsene Wenger.
The Frenchman, who with 33 starts was a near ever present in the Premier League last term, has only featured ten times from the off this season with persistent fitness problems and a couple of high profile mistakes against both Chelsea and Manchester City taking their toll on his confidence.
Impressive in Wednesday’s win over Bayern Munich, the boss admitted that Koscielny’s strength lies in seizing games by the scruff of the neck; a quality he hopes his compatriot will demonstrate in the next three months.
“He was outstanding on Wednesday night. He has shown a bit more authority than usual and when he gets into that frame of mind, you can see he has outstanding qualities.
“It’s something I know he has but he needs that authority in his game to get his qualities completely out.
“He says that he was disturbed in his preparation [in pre-season]. In our final game in Cologne, he had a calf injury. It took him a long, long time to come back and after that he had many setbacks through the season.
“And every time he was close to coming back, he had another injury or sickness. He was sick a lot this year.”
Another player who has seen his season ravaged by injuries is young Ryo Miyaichi. Sent on loan to Wigan he sustained a groin problem in November, an ankle knock during his rehabilitation and now, after being stretchered off in his comeback game against Everton last weekend, will undergo surgery to rectify ankle ligament damage.
A fan of the Japanese winger’s potential, Latics boss Roberto Martinez has underlined his desire to again work with Miyaichi while also paying lip service to the worrying trend of injuries which have affected the whole league.
“We will have to speak with Arsenal and we need to assess and make sure they are happy with the progression of the player,” said Martinez.
“Ryo is a footballer that we really admire and has an incredible future in front of him so if we could work with him for a longer period we would be very happy to do that.”
Reflecting on why he feels players are spending more and more time on the sidelines, Martinez speculated that the amount of rain in the last 12 months has made surfaces more dangerous for players.
“Football in general gets more demanding physically, that is clearly the way the game is developing,” he continued as he tackled the issue of injuries.
“The more technology in sports science means you create better athletes but I think the weather and rain we had this summer has created difficult surfaces to play and train on.
“It would be interesting to find out how many injuries clubs throughout the leagues have had compared to last year because the number has been much higher.
“I don’t think the physicality of the league has anything to do with that.”