Don’t blame Wenger for injury crisis
THE injuries at Arsenal are mounting and now it’s a tricky situation. There are a number of senior players who are losing reliability in terms of fitness — Tomas Rosicky, Mikel Arteta, Mathieu Flamini — and there are young players who have had some bad luck or are injury-prone. I know first-hand that Arsenal’s medical staff and facilities are second to none. Arsene Wenger’s attention to detail means they will be doing everything they can. But injuries create problems in selection. They mean more work and more games for everyone else, which then increases the risk of further injuries. Most squads would struggle with the injuries Arsenal have had and even though Wenger used to be criticised for having too many midfielders, now it looks like he hasn’t got enough. But he will see this as a chance for others to step up. Maybe it’s time for Calum Chambers to get a chance in there. I don’t think Wenger should be criticised for playing Alexis Sanchez on Sunday because he must be a difficult player to manage. When I last visited the training ground, Sanchez was on a rest day. All he wanted to do was extra training. Wenger wants his players to be happy and with Sanchez the best way to do that is to let him play, so I understand why he was picked. One concern, though, is the number of muscle injuries. Towards the end of my career at Arsenal we trained on a hybrid surface — artificial fibres combined with grass — that replicated the pitch at Highbury. It looked like a snooker table and was very stable but it was too firm for me. Every player is different but I suffered with back problems, particularly with jumping and landing. I don’t know what they use these days but training day in, day out, on a firm surface can take its toll.