Arsene Wenger says Arsenal are getting better at managing the fitness of their squad but admits it takes time to get to know individual players and their risk of injury.
In the first half of the season, the Frenchman effectively split his squad in half with ‘first choice’ players featuring in the Premier League and those on the fringes getting game time in the Europa League and League Cup.
The increased rest between games has so far, for the most part, helped to minimise injuries with fewer players ruled out for prolonged periods with muscular problems.
Having been criticised heavily in recent years for season-defining injury crises, the boss is pleased with the turnaround.
“First of all, we rotated more in the Europa League and was able to rest more players,” Wenger told Arsenal.com.
“Afterwards, you always improve by learning from the seasons before, you learn more about the general concept of our training intensity.
“We also learn more about the individuals. We have a deeper analysis of what happened with the player last year, whether he got injured, how many games he played in three weeks and after he got injured. From the player’s injury history, you learn when to rest him and when to play him.
“It’s about adapting the training loads to the history of the individuals. It’s also about strengthening where they’ve had weak moments in their history.
“When you play every three days, you weaken your players. When you rest them – and sometimes during the week when they do not play – you can work them to strengthen their physical condition. After that, they’re a bit less vulnerable.”
Having recruited Shad Forysthe as the head of athletic performance enhancement a couple of years ago and with Darren Burgess arriving as the director of high performance, you’d expect further improvements to be made in this area.
Cue a massive injury crisis…