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Friday 2 December 2016

'Injury pile-up is down to tactics'

Top physio says Gunners' wounded list down to approach

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has to contend with a growing injury list which is threatening to derail his club’s Premier League title bid
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has to contend with a growing injury list which is threatening to derail his club’s Premier League title bid
Arsenal star Alexis Sanchez leaves the action at Carrow Road on Sunday with a hamstring injury

Arsenal's constant battle with injuries could be down to something as fundamental as their tactical approach to matches, one leading physiotherapist has claimed.

The Gunners are currently without 10 first-team players after a trio of stars were injured during Sunday's 1-1 draw at Norwich.

Key man Alexis Sanchez was forced off with a hamstring problem while manager Arsene Wenger confirmed Santi Cazorla finished the game "playing on one leg" after suffering a blow to his knee.

It is understood the pair are now doubtful for Saturday's visit of Sunderland as well as the crucial Champions League clash with Olympiacos in Greece four days later.

The duo, along with defender Laurent Koscielny, who also had to be substituted at Carrow Road due to a hip problem, will be assessed over the next 48 hours to discover the full extent of their injuries - with the France defender believed to have the best chance of being fit for the weekend. Sanchez has been playing almost constantly for club and country over the last year and Wenger was left to defend his decision to select the Chile international at Norwich after revealing he had felt his hamstring after starring in the 3-0 win over Dinamo Zagreb last week.

Sunday's injuries add to the seemingly ever-increasing number of casualties at the Emirates Stadium and chartered physiotherapist Sammy Margo believes it could be Arsenal's tactics that are leading to so many players being absent.

"Tactically, there are certain teams that play in a very specific way," she said.

"It could be that tactically things are just leading to injuries, you can't blame it on refereeing. It is normally down to training and the tactical approach to the game.

"It may be that they are encouraged to behave in a certain way in certain situations that makes them more prone to injuries during the game.

"It is such a bizarre situation for that to arise and quite often it is because of something the team are doing that is inherently leading to injuries.

"Quite often if we see collective issues at one specific club, we have to look at a bunch of things specifically related with that club."

Margo, who became the first female physio at an English league club during a stint at Barnet, reckons the issues at Arsenal are also systematic of a league where rest and recuperation are almost impossible.

"Injuries do happen in a game but quite often they brew in training, when players are pushing the boundaries," she said.

"At this time of year we are always saying British football needs a break because they have been going strong.

"Players have to play at their maximum and go all-out. Particularly in Sanchez's position, the career is quite limited to be at the top so they are pushing their bodies to the boundaries.

"But there are a lot more games and some of these guys are being pushed to the limit and high expectations are being made of them.

"When Wenger first came along he introduced a different way of eating, nutrition and thinking into the club when he first arrived. His whole approach and management - it was working really well.

"But something isn't quite right at the moment, it is very difficult to pinpoint specifically what it is - somehow they need a rest. Football needs a break."

Meanwhile defender Hector Bellerin, who only recently returned from his own short spell on the sidelines, has backed the club to deal with the current injury blows.

"I have said it before, there is great depth in the team," he said. "Obviously every single player on the bench can do the same job as every single player in the starting XI. We don't need to worry."

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