So today you have two lots of Le Grove, one post from me on stuff and one from Tim Payton of the AST landing big in your inbox at 10. He’s taking on ticket scandal at the FA.
I’m not going to head into too much detail, but simple facts are I’m a season ticket holder, I go to all the home games, have done for years, yet I’m in the ballot with 40,000 season ticket holders. Arsenal apportion tickets based on away credits. Fine, away fandom is more hardcore, but at the end of the day, home fans invest £93m in the club and should get some sort of recognition for that. Which, to be honest, most away fans seem to agree with.
Needless to say, I’ve had to secure my ticket through corporate means. Which is a shame, it would have been nicer to sit with my family and friends. Anyway, I’ll leave the detail to Tim at 10.
So what have we today? Well, I know I’m the resident injury bore, but I was pointed in the direction of this new video that’s been released by UEFAs Medical Committee (thanks for the find @Lazcom). They study the injury patterns of the top 20 clubs in the Champions League from injury, to diagnosis through to recovery. It gives a baseline the clubs can compare themselves to. It’s all very interesting. The best part, for me, as an amateur Colin Lewin, was the bit on 2mins 30 where the lead says…
‘It is a part of the game, but it’s not an unavoidable part of the game. It’s a myth in football, that injuries are depending on good or bad luck. I can definitely say there is no such thing as good or bad luck when it’s connected to injuries (muscle). There are always reasons for injuries.’
Again, yet more irrefutable evidence that Wenger is getting it hideously wrong behind the scenes. Stan / Ivan, it’s not luck. Arsene, it’s not hair pills. Anyway, check out the video. The hottest injury is a strained hamstring these days, where as back in the day, it used to be the sprained ankle. I’m guessing that has something to do with the massive ramp up of sprinting players do these days.
I think it’s interesting how the Arsene fan club has shifted the conversation to ‘facts’.
‘Do you 100% know that every injury is because of X. Where is your evidence?’
‘Do you know that better preparation would correlate with better results?’
‘Can you tell me what players Arsene could have bought in the last two windows. Exactly. They weren’t available?’
It’s like arguing with religious people over the existence of god, because really, any support of the manager and how he’s operating is faith based these days. You don’t need documents or witness testimony to see where it’s falling down. But what does always help, is seeing how other clubs are taking modern approaches to the game and winning.
My next point of reference is Leicester City (thanks to Adam for point me in the direction of this). I know what you’re thinking, why are you interested in those guys? Is it because Nigel Pearson once beat off a pack of ferrel dogs by fighting them? Is it because Leicester Fans have been trolling me at work? It’s a mix of both. But mostly because I was sent a pretty detailed overview of Pearson and his marginal gains approach, one synonymous with modern football management and Team GB Olympic success. An approach, that if adopted at Arsenal would see us far closer to lifting silverware.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. What could Arsene learn off Pearson? Well, I think he could learn a lot about his approach to failure.
“If everyone improves by a couple of percent, it very quickly adds ups”
The reason lower league managers are interesting is because they’re working of shoestring budgets. I’m not talking about Arsene shoestring, where fans talk about destitution with a £150m wage bill. I’m talking really small amounts of cash.
Leicester found themselves promoted this season on a 21 game unbeaten run… with the same players as last year who failed in the playoffs. So here’s the thing with Arsenal. We have good players, so forgetting that we need more energy and speed demon in the squad, here are irrefutable items that need addressing.
- Prematch preparation (Fabianski had to do his Wigan analysis on Youtube / Wenger issues video analysis on Dropbox)
- Post game analysis (we’ve consistently been found out by teams that press our midfield. We never learn. We make the same mistake against the same oppo tactics over and over again.)
- Fitness (We’ve been lethargic since December. That’s not an effort thing. That’s a fatigue thing)
- Injuries (we’re consistently top of the injury league. We have one impact injury, the rest are muscular. Injuries are not bad luck. As the man from UEFA said)
- Expertise (Our backroom team has stayed pretty much the same for 15 years. No new blood. No fresh ideas. Same old problems. Arsenal haven’t got worse, they’ve just stayed the same.)
So here is the jist of what Leicester have been up to (full story here).
- After failing with promotion last season, an investigation was held with an action plan built off the back of it
- A lack of specialist expertise was identified. They staffed up in match analysis, strength and conditioning as well as bringing in additional coaches
- Match analysis was given greater focus. Every player receives an analysis of their own performance in the previous game for every game that is played
- Deep analysis of opposition as well as analysis of past games
- Heavy focus on strength and conditioning
Here are some interesting take outs from his approach.
Pearson on his backroom team:
“I am fortunate and very privileged to work with a lot of people who are experts in their own field, and their attention to details in contributing to results is valued by myself and the players.”
Steve Walsh on fitness
“We watch each team we are going to play at least three times and do analysis of them to feed into our team tactics.
“We do a lot of strength and fitness training – our view is if they are fit and strong not only do they play better but they are much less likely to get injured.”
So this is what I’ve been saying. If Wenger decides to approach his failings head on… and I don’t mean citing hair supplements as an issue, I mean, literally, sit down and put everything on the table, assess what’s going on and take ruthless action… then we can get somewhere this summer. Pearson did the hardest thing you can do in management… admit you might not know best. Because you know what? It’s not your job as manager to know best. It’s your job to employ the best. It’s your job to turn their small ideas into a vision. It’s your job to drive best practice and excellence in everything you do.
Is Pearson the greatest manager in the world? No, regardless of what my Leicester supporting pals will tell me. However, he’s done the basics right and he’s absolutely romped a very, very tough league. He’s laid down a backroom team he relies on and I suspect they’ll be a problem next season. If they’re not, and he’s sacked, his backroom team will stay and a new vision will come in.
So… that brings me neatly onto today’s match!
ARSENAL vs WEST HAM
It’s a massive game, it’s my local derby really. Most of my friends support the Hammers. A miserable bunch let me tell you. They all hate Sam Allardyce. They can’t stand him. They hate the football they support to the point they’ll boo a win.
However, forget the fans, tonight is going to be very tough.
Here’s the deal. Arsenal don’t have many players. They’ve just played an emotionally draining game in the FA Cup. Some of the players will have run up to 17km. Of those players that are a concern, you have Ramsey, fresh back from injury. He shouldn’t be playing into extra time so soon after a return. Chamberlain was blowing out of his arse after 70 minutes, he was cramping up in the game, he’s really not in great condition. Arteta has clearly not been looked after well this season, he’ll certainly not look fancy after that game because he’s no good at playing two games in quick succession.
The issue we have is that our squad is so decimated, we don’t have players to bring in. Giroud can start ahead of Sanogo, Flamini can come into the side, I’m not sure what’s going on with Rosicky, but we may see him. Then we have little or no options.
We’re playing a West Ham who have had over a week to swat up on us, formulate a game plan and drill it out over and over again on the training ground. It’s going to be a massive game for us. West Ham keep clean sheets, Arsenal don’t score at the moment. Where is our winner coming from?
It’s going to be a massive, massive game. We need to keep pace with Everton so we can surpass them when the inevitable crash happens.
I’m taking a New York Grover to the game tonight, which goes totally against my nature… you know, because I hate foreigners and all that. Anyway, hopefully he hasn’t flown over for one of those horrendous nail biting 0-0 draws. Hopefully he’ll get ‘Piebury Corner’!
Right, see you in the comments! Have a great evening.
… and remember to come back at around 10 for another episode!
P.S. Check out this for mental tech… Atletico coach Burgos was getting real time player stats fed into his Google Glass! I’d imagine Wenger is waiting for the Warby Parker edition before he jumps in.