Arsenal Players ‘Are Weaklings’

It’s amazing how much content there is in the match programme these days. You used to be able to read it in half time. Obviously most of it is bog all to do with the game at hand and of no use as a record of the event, which is the primary purpose of old programmes, which had team line-ups that were usually pretty accurate. Anyway, I was flicking through the Norwich one from last month before filing it away somewhere, and I came across these two things.

superstitionsFirstly, there are two pages of pre-match superstitions that fans have tweeted in. Leaving aside that a few of them look completely made up (“We shout ‘The Russians are coming’ out of our bedroom window” – oh yeah? Do you really?), are there genuinely this many people who think that their actions have any bearing on the wider world? I bet if you asked these superstitious people what they think of religion they’d mostly say, “Oh I don’t believe in that rubbish.” And yet they fondly imagine that they – not even a mystical higher power, but them in person – are making a difference to a completely unconnected event by going to the same pub or wearing the same shirt. As Denis Leary used to say, ‘I think you hear me knocking, and I think I’m coming in.’

Secondly, and more disturbingly from an Arsenal point of view, there’s a two-page article about Arsenal teenager Anthony Jeffrey, who has been on loan at Stevenage. anthony jeffrey 001

“League One is a hard, fast league,” says Anthony. “It’s so much more physical too and that is something else that I am adapting to. The guys here are in the weights room before training! I was one of the strongest at Arsenal and yet I am a weakling compared to the guys at Stevenage. I will certainly be fitter and stronger when I leave and I can already feel the benefits in training. I look forward to applying it all in a match situation.”

Now I don’t know about you, but this makes me think. Specifically it makes me think WHAT THE HELL DO THEY DO IN TRAINING AT ARSENAL? Why is that you can be one of the strongest at Arsenal, who no doubt have every state of the art bit of machinery going and top notch fitness and conditioning coaches, and yet be the weakest at a League One club? Why do you have to go down two levels to get ‘fitter and stronger’, so you can ‘feel the benefits in training’? anthony jeffrey 002This annoys me so much. It’s not like footballers are pushed for time. We’re not talking about 12-hour shifts daily, leaving time for nothing else than online betting and occasional sexual assault. They’ve got plenty of time at Arsenal to get fitter and stronger alongside their hour a day of short passing practice. Football is a physical game still, and anyone who’s played it knows what an advantage it is to be stronger than your opponent. Strength and power aren’t more important than skill, but they help you use the skills you have far more effectively.

I want to see Arsenal players going on loan or being sold to other clubs saying, “The training here is so easy compared to Arsenal. I’m doing extra stuff to keep my fitness level up.” Instead we get Clichy going to Man City and saying how much harder training is there, tales of how Arsenal players aren’t even allowed to tackle properly in training (so how they’re supposed to practise it except actually in matches I’m not sure) and Anthony Jeffrey having to confess to being a weakling compared to players who aren’t fit to bow down in front of a statue of Thierry Henry.

When people say “How can we be expected to compete against clubs with much bigger budgets?” well this is one way: be fitter and stronger than them. Margins in football are so thin – one point out of a possible 114 in a 38 game season decides the difference between fourth and fifth, a £40m CL payload or £5m in the Europa League – that you should take every advantage you can. Isn’t this obvious? It should be. Disregarding aspects of the game that can give you an advantage is stupid, whether it’s strength training or practising penalty shootouts. I think you hear me knocking, and I think I’m coming in. In fact I’m already in – I’m wandering round the house, and guess what, I found your unused gym equipment.

Twitter: @AngryOfN5

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18 thoughts on “Arsenal Players ‘Are Weaklings’

  1. Amen Amen Amen! For yrs I’ve been banging on about this very same point. Over the yrs we’ve repeatedly read or heard comments from former players (occasionally something slips out from a current player) on precisely this issue. They’ll mention their surprise at how training is different at their new club – the tactical training & physical training is more intense, more focused, etc. It’s something I’ve been troubled by for years.

  2. Fitter than Arsenal players. Wonder how they in league 1 & we in CL. Life is indeed stranger than fiction.

  3. Is hitting the gym with hard weights a requirement for overall fitness? Some say Nasri looks a bit plumper over there at City, I guess they’re not hitting the hard weights there or maybe just Nasri? I look at players like JET and Chuks Aneke who seem to have over bulked up at the expense of freedom of movement. When JET was playing for the under 21’s he was a lithe, tall strong midfielder about to zip around passes with ease, after a loan spell he came back looking bulky and certain not moving with the freedom he once had.
    I certainly dont think our players are any less fitter than most in the Premiership or Championship, if it’s a question of general size yes we are a little smaller but bulking up Rosicky or Wilshere is not the answer..maybe buying slightly bigger players would be. Wenger was somewhat of a revolutionary when he came to England with his methodology of dieting and exercise, indeed said to have prolonged the careers of players like Parlour and Adams.
    For everything that maybe wrong at Arsenal, I certainly think this is not one of them.

  4. I’m not sure where to start here!

    Anthony Jeffrey is an 18 year old boy, and I would guess he stands at about 5’6″ tall. To expect him to arrive at a League One club and be as strong, let alone stronger, than far bigger and older players is beyond absurd.

    You’ve also taken the case of a youth player and his Stevenage experience to mean the entire Arsenal first team squad (which is likely to be on a very different fitness regime to that of teenagers in the youth sides) is not being trained properly. A pretty wild assumption.

    It’s also assumed as matter-of-fact that being as strong as Stevenage is preferable. What about the effects of these muscle building regimes on speed, technique, agility, fatigue, injuries? I find it pretty difficult to believe that Stevenage’s fitness coaches are smarter and better than those at Arsenal.

  5. These are kids for crying out loud, Arsenal youth system is about developing technical ability not transforming them into bodybuilders. The problem in this country at youth level is coaches choose kids who are stronger/faster so all the technical ones get left behind and then we complain that there is no talent coming through which affects our national team

  6. Do not have to be strong to be a good footballer, the best player in the world is five foot nothing an weighs 10 stone, strength is the least attribute needed stanima, balance, agility, speed, awareness, vision,flexibility,technique, acceleration ETc could be hear all day naming them, players will play to there strengths Stevenage arent goin to have the most intelligent players in the world so the manager decieds to beef them up, an practice set prices all day long, if a players gets to big upper/lower body strength it could effect other attributes, eg quadriceps gain 4kg of muscle the player will lose speed, it’s is a rare find when you meet a player that can all of the above eg Drogba16 stone power house speed vision the lot, benteke is a younger version an he doesn’t even train upper body it’s all natural, each player has different body shapes they will be told what weight an percentage of body fat the should be at to get the best outa them there are plenty of test in place, iif a players can bench a 100kg is irrevalent

  7. This is laughable. Firstly, last few years Arsenals underage team have been utter giants, they bullied most teams out of midfield . The recent eisfeld/Ollson are less physical but better playmakers,.

    Secondly, he’s talking about teenagers, versus hairy arse 30 year olds. Get an absolute grip on yourself, look at Jack, Walcott, Chambertlain and Jenkinson for proof our lads bulk up.

  8. While there are certain kinds of weight-lifting and exercises that can be detrimental to young men in puberty who have not yet had their second growth spurt (which usually occurs between the ages of 16-19), in almost every sport, the top-level programs–be they amateur or professional–not only have weight-training and conditioning programs, but have programs that are specific to the sport and position that the individual athlete is playing. A guard in basketball should be doing different types of lifting and conditioning from a center, let alone from a midfielder or keeper who is playing football/soccer.

    I don’t know how old Jeffery was when he went out on loan, but it would be understandable if a 16-17 year old had not yet been allowed to do some of the same kinds of lifting exercises that the grown men–fully grown adults over the age of 22–would be doing. I can tell you from personal experience that doing the kinds of weight and repetitions that adult men in my sports would routinely do when I was 14-15 can not only stunt growth, but cause still growing bones to become bowed–which can lead to persistent joint and back injuries later on. So, the fact that Jeffery had not been doing the kind of weight-training and conditioning exercises as part of the Arsenal academy that the grown men playing for the club he was loaned to in League One should not be seen as necessarily a bad thing…at that stage of his career.

    My concern would be with whether the gentlemen in charge of the strength and conditioning programs at Arsenal are properly increasing the amount of weight that the Arsenal players are working with and the types of conditioning work that they are doing as their bodies mature. Watching the club, as I have, over time, I have some serious questions about this.

    But, I have even more serious questions about the skills training that Arsenal’s players are getting in training. When a club has a big central striker like Giroud, it is imperative that the team’s wing players can make accurate crosses into the middle of the box for that central striker to use his head on. Sagna is the only Arsenal player who is even mediocre when it comes to this skill (although Walcott is getting better). The players need to be working on this skill in training, but one sees little improvement in this area. The same could be said of the ability of the fullbacks to cover the back post in situations when the opposition overloads the opposite side. Or, the lack of accurate shooting by the strikers, wingers and midfielders.

    At times one can’t help asking, “What exactly are Arsenal’s players working on in (and after) training sessions?”

    • Sagna’s cross is terrible. Jenkinson’s crossing is excellent (passing sucks). Podolski’s crossing is probably the best among the lot.

  9. I have asked this question on more than one occasion while watching the team play. “Do these guys actually train together?”. Sagna’s crosses are atrocious to say the least. For us to really push on we need full backs who can cross the ball accurately.

  10. I read (a long time ago in a coaching manual) that an indicator of being unfit is that over the season a team concedes a higher number of goals in the latter stages of the game.

    Conversely, scoring a higher number of goals towards the end of games, is an indicator of a fit team.

    I seem to remember reading that Arsenal had scored more goals in the second half than any other team (I think the source was OPTA).

    Is it possible that Footballers sometimes talk nonsense to the press; perhaps wanting to ingratiate themselves with their new manager, coaches, fans ? Perhaps Arsenal are fit after all?

    Just a thought x

  11. Totally agree, Arsenal players often appear to be pushed around in open play and in set pieces.
    We see it when we play some northern teams and get bullied off the ball, loses or draws that should be a win.
    I simply can’t believe that we don’t practice defensive drills, weren’t they only brought back post the spuds loss after having been cancelled by Wenger when Bould was getting the credit at the start of the season?

    Wenger throw his toys out of the pram to the detriment of the team?

  12. Er… isn’t he 18?!

    Even if he’s one of the strongest in the arsenal youth team, training with the stevenage first team is obviously going to be different! They’re grown men!

  13. Seriously? I guess you have to live up to your name by being angry about something at Arsenal all the time. I mean, it can be an observation to make, and a question to ponder over whether the training we receive leaves us short of fitness as compared to other teams’ fitness regimes. (the question of Performance Enhancing Drugs would also have to come in somewhere in that discussion)

    But to take the words of a young kid coming through one of the best academies and use it to berate that academy system by calling them weaklings? Isn’t the fact that he was sent out on loan there and training with the guys there a part of the academy’s development plan itself? Why would you send a player to a professional club where the training is easier than the kids have? They would carry the impression that it’s easy to become professional. Can we please leave the professionals to do their job? So many Arsenal academy graduates are playing in the English leagues. I think that says something more than the words of a young kid taken out of context.

    As for Clichy’s statements. Do we have to take them literally? I mean if we didn’t practice tackling, do you think we would be able to finish where we finished in the league? And a player is hardly going to say ‘things were better at my old club’. Not if he wants to be in favour with his new employers. And ‘Arsenal don’t like it up ’em’ has been a media narrative which Clichy just conveniently joined in on after leaving us. Context is everything.

  14. Pingback: Spanish Winger Wants to Join – Possible Shock Transfer | The Gooner Monkey

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