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Gazidis on Injury Management

In his Q&A session with the Arsenal Supporters' Trust Ian Gazidis gave some interesting input into the issue of injuries which has so afflicted us this season.

Asserting that it wasn't very easy to explain why he told his audience that it had been a 'very, very dramatic season of injuries'. "Why is that? What factors have contributed to that?" the CEO posed his own questions before the going on to attempt to answer them "That's not an easy question to answer. Not because we're not focussed on it but because it's actually very, very complex. There are very many different factors."

Some of the reasons were to do with our playing style he contended: "We've got a team that plays a possession style of football. We run more than any other team in the league and we also have a very young team. So there are some fairly unique aspects about our team that other teams don't have."

Another factor was a quirk in this season's fixture schedule Gazidis explained: "There`s also another factor that you take into account when you look at the number of injuries which is the number of days rest you have between games and there was something happening this year.

"I'm not suggesting there is someone in the league office that is making this schedule in a particular way but, I think there is something systemic in the way we get selected for television games that tends to lead to us having less rest than the opponents we're playing. If you do an analysis of that it's quite dramatic. We've had cumulatively 36 less days rest than the opponent we're playing. Chelsea by comparison have had 22 Manchester 24 so there's a significant disparity in the way that the schedule works out"

The process of injury management is not something new at the club. Gazidis went on to explain that investment in improving this aspect had been underway long before this season but these different aspects have to be considered carefully if they were to be able to address them accurately.

"So are we getting more injuries because we have the ball more? Are we getting more injuries because we move the ball faster and because our players run more? Are we getting more injuries because our players are younger? Perhaps the converse would be true. Are we getting more injuries because we're playing on slightly less rest than our opponents?" asked the Arsenal boss.

While these were all factors that had to be addressed he also accepted that a large part was probably simply down to bad luck. "You've got to factor in that a lot of the long term injuries were impact injuries and I don't know if that is something that could just be bad luck - remember this is quite a small sample size that you're talking about so maybe it was just plain bad luck."

One of Wenger`s first priorities at the club was to build a new state of the art training facility allegedly paid with the transfer fee received for Anelka very early in Wenger`s reign. The level of sophistication employed by the club over many years has been set at a high level. Sports science investment has always been a strong focus of Wengers time at the club the knowledge of which should have been enough to allay common fears that there is some significant defect in the club's handling of players and their treatment. Gazidis highlighted one investment this year that emphasises the level of sophisticated technology the club are investing in to improve injury management.

"We`ve just introduced a GPS system for example this year for the first time. This is tracking, literally from satellites in space, the training movements on the training field of every player and it gives you a lot of information. It tells you not just how fast, how far those players are running and what levels of intense activity they have in training but it also measures something called the 'load' literally the amount of time that the players foot is on the ground while he's running. What you can see is if you've got a player who is coming up to a risk of injury in a subsequent game. You can see 2 things in general. One is their work rate comes down in training and secondly their 'load' increase in other words their foot stays on the ground longer when they're running. When you're feeling good and feeling active you're more on your toes, when you're not you're more on your heels. That can help you to predict when players are in a dangerous situation.

"Unfortunately to get the full benefits of that, to really understand it you need to have a lot of record of any individual player so it takes a while to build up because every player is different. It takes a while to build that record to get the full benefit of that system so we're unlikely to see the benefits really coming through until probably the 2nd half of next year but that's the type of investment and there are others that we're making to try to push forward and get us some cutting edge."

Contrary to the misconception that the medical and physio resources at the club are underperforming what is clear is that the club has invested in the past, and continues to invest, significant resources in injury management. Gazidis went to some lengths to highlight that the experiences of recent seasons have encouraged the club to invest further in what is already a high level of sophisticated analysis.

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The Journalist

Writer: Amos Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Tuesday May 11 2010

Time: 10:54PM

Your Comments

Maybe we can use the GPS system in big games as well as training? Would be interesting to discover where all our players go.
I love innovative use of technology like that. Will be really interesting to see how fans react to it though. Imagine if this software suggests that fabregas and van persie are carrying more load than ususal after an extra-time performance in one of the cups, so wenger decides to rest them both against a team like stoke or birmingham - and arsenal go on to drop points costing them in the title race. With the player having no obvious sign of injury and no suggestion he isnt fit to play other than a slight change in his load which 'suggests' he is about to be injured - fans would be furious. At the same time something like this could be invaluable to a manager in keeping his entire squad in peak condition over the course of a season.
Also, can any of you clarify how he arrives at his figures for 'cumulative rest days compared to opponents'. Is he just looking at examples where you have played a match with 3 days rest and the opponent had 5 days rest - then adding up all the differences?
I guess that's the method tuscan, re the technology it doesn't really suggest injury is imminent, rather that the possibility is greater - much like the risk of a car accident is higher if tired. Not sure if this only leads to a surfeit of confusion, here's an example. Wenger: "Quick bring off Arshavin"....Rice: "Whys that?" Wenger: he's knackered after running round for 15 mins, his short little legs have serious load he's 2.38 minutes from a compound fracture" Rice: "but boss, eduardo will never last 75 minutes he was only 3.14 minutes from a hamstring tweak last week" It's all a bit red dwarf.
What connection is there between the incompetence of the medical staff (in the opinion of some) and an investment in resources like the GPS system? It could mean that the docs and physios are being massively paid, but are not performing well. Also, this piece only covers CAUSES of injuries, and not how they are managed, i.e. diagnosis and treatment which is a major complaint as far as I'm concerned. This piece also supports the popular view that there is some reason for Arsenal players suffering from more injuries (of course, you can exclude the impact injuries like Gibbs, Ramsey, and Cesc vs Barca as that can be attributed to bad luck). Its good to know that the club is looking into this seriously, coz this is a serious problem going on for at least 3 seasons.
Run more than any team? That doesn't tie in with our possession stats, you're supposed to make the other team do that when you have the ball, or maybe it's the same as Wenger's stats like "more sprints" than anyone else cos we've got our fullbacks chasing back after ***** ups with possession,
I just read Djourou's interview and its another frustrating read. He had the knee injury since the end of last season. Of course I'm talking with the benefit of hindsight, but shouldn't the medical dept have diagnosed the injury a lot earlier? If this was a one-off, you could still let it go, but this is only the next of an unacceptably long list of incompetent handling of injuries.
Of course Gazidis dealt with the issue of cause but as he explains it is incredibly complex. The commissioning of the gps system is just another in a long history of Wenger investing in the most modern methods of sports science going back to the facilities at the training ground. What is there in the Djourou interview that alleges incompetence in the medical department? They did diagnose the knee injury at the end of last season otherwise he wouldn't have known there was one. Sometimes rest is the cure but an operation is only carried out when clinical diagnosis makes it necessary which seems to be the case here.
Chelsea play the same players in all four competitions (we don't) yet suffer from half as many lost playing days as we do, so that excuse is rubished immeadiately.
Chelsea would be more likely to play the same players in all competitions if they have half as many lost playing days as we do. What excuse is it that's being rubbished then?
It all has to start somewhere....take the start of each season. Every club started the season with a couple of injuries, us included, but not that many. When the first rounds of the FA and League cup come round those injuries haven't changed much, yet we play a reserve team, Chelsea play a close to starting XI, yet we'll always end up with more injuries (not exactly rocket science is it?) this pattern is reoccuring over many seasons from what I and many have noticed. Anyway.....Less playing time between days is rubbish, it is all pretty even over the course of a season (Chlesea have played 1 more game than us this season, I believe) between the teams. Chelsea play an almost an Identical squad in all comps yet lost half as many playing days to us. Why? Are their players tougher or are our taringing and medical staff half as competent?
Gazidis tried to address the differences and potential reason in his Q&A as reported above. If you look through it the rationale is there if not all the answers. Chelsea used a squad of 29 players in all competitions last season we used 41. We tend to use more players in the CC (and last season players like Cruise in a one off CL game) to blood them. There's no doubt that Chelsea had fewer injuries than we did but the reasons why are many and complex.
Of course there are many reasons we get so many injuries. Our style of play invites snap tackles and aggressive counter play. Our team are obviously conditioned to last 90+ minutes, hence the reason we score so many late goals because we have more stamina than other teams and that takes its toll. Any athlete more highly tuned is more succeptible to tweaks and pulls. (You'll notice that injury time is never announced over the PA at the Grove because the manager doesn't want the players to panic if we haven't got the decisive goal). Nobody is saying our injuries are 100% down to our medical staff, but I think there's enough circumstantial evidence to warrant an investigation and the club appear to agree with their promised review of the medical department. I'll accept whatever they find because they are in on the ground floor and we are not, but comeback times, diagnostics etc all look incredibly amateur from the outside and it bears consideration. The club obviously agree now.
Little Dutch
Yes there are many reasons, but gaps between games is rubbish as the top teams play the same amount of games as each other generally. So that is, putting it politely, a crap excuse/reason.
The review of the medical department is a constant process. It isn't something they've only just started just become an issue with a higher profile given the drama of this season that's all. The physio department has been sending a weekly report of injuries, diagnostics and treatments to Gazidis for over a year and has had weekly meetings with Wenger ever since he started. Improving treatment regimes is part and parcel of any clinical practice whether at a football club or the local hospital. The notion that the club has only just started looking into it and investing in the sports science just doesn't bear any real scrutiny. Of course things can improve every department of any enterprise should be looking to do that anyway - but it can't change your luck though it might just reduce the extent of dependence on luck.
So when the club carries out an analysis that shows that they do have less rest days than their peers due to TV fixture scheduling an open mind taking a balanced view can just dismiss it as a crap excuse/reason can it?
Do you think there is any weight behind the idea that a younger player would play on even after he feels a little niggle - because inexperience means he doesnt really know the full limits of his body yet? Whereas players like chelseas, have been around the block enough to know how to manage themselves a little better? Maybe the point of this GPS system is to give insight into what young, ambitious players trying to cement a place in the team, wont tell the medical staff for fear of missing out on opportunities.
I took the word "thorough" before investigation as an admission that they would be extending upon their usual tools and methods of analysis.
Little Dutch
Extending their usual tools and methods has been an ongoing process. They brought in a new club doctor just over a year ago and have made changes to the physio team before and after that. I have to say that Gazidis looks to be introducing a more businesslike approach to this issue as he has to other departments so maybe that is what is needed to bring about a necessary improvement. But then again maybe it'll just take some voodoo spells to lift the injury curse.
So when the club carries out an analysis that shows that they do have less rest days than their peers due to TV fixture scheduling an open mind taking a balanced view can just dismiss it as a crap excuse/reason can it? Amos. - Yes, top teams on average play the same amount of games as each give or take 1 maybe 2 season. Are you telling me that during the last 3 season we have had less rest days than every other team? I don't think so. Also, where did Gazidis say that "after intense study and carfeul record taking it has been concluded that Arsenal have less rest days than anyone else?" It didn't, so read into it what you want, I prefer not to take eveyrthing Arsenal tell me for granted....clearly you do.
Gazidis made reference to the issue this season in his session with the AST. I presume you haven't read it yet but you'll find his comments in paragraphs 4 & 5 of the article above. I'm not taking it for granted simply accepting that they have done the analysis and that this was their conclusion. You being such a balanced, middle of the road type of guy could probably appreciate that stance. Those with closed minds, unlike yourself of course, might be inclined to dismiss it I suppose.
It's a bit rich, Amos, for you to accuse LG of having a closed mind when every single post of yours--every single one--is simply a regurgitation of the official line. You close your mind completely to anything that questions the club. There's no middle ground with you. It colors your articles as whenever I go to read one of them, I'll know immediately what to expect: the official line and contempt toward supporters who question it. As to Gazidis' Q&A, one of the bloggers over at arsenalinsider posted a detailed summary of the main points here: . For those unable to watch the whole thing on the official site, I recommend it, it's a good read. He mentions Gazidis' comparison between Arsenal's and Chelsea/Utd's rest time in between games and the heavy fixture list: "the way the fixtures had fallen Arsenal had come of worst in this sense having an aggregate 36 days less rest than their opponents compared to Chelsea on 22 and Manchester United on 24." This may well explain this particular season's even more intense injury plague for Arsenal - something which happens EVERY season with us now, but this one was esp. bad. But as LD says, none of that explains legitimate questions about diagnoses, comeback times, etc. Tho I know your mind is closed to the idea that they're legitimate. We are never supposed to question the mantra that Arsenal/AW are flawless in their medical competence, that they're the best in the world at it. Also, it is manifestly inaccurate on your part to say that this current investigation into injury issues is just routine when--according to AW's own words--this particular review is intended to be something more thorough, more focused, more detailed. The club has come out publicly and mentioned this internal review as tho it is something much more routine than any previous ones.
Also, that arsenalinsider summary of Gazidis' Q&A mentions something else: "A further question came on the coaching of our goalkeepers. One supporter present had been told by the goalkeeping coach at a Football League Championship club that Arsenal was the only top flight club where the goalkeeping coach didn’t travel regularly to away matches. He’d also been told that Arsenal was the only Premier League club that didn’t have a full-time Academy goalkeeping coach." Given Bob Wilson's recent criticisms about AW's goalkeeping approach (that's BOB WILSON, Arsene's staunchest supporter), this doesn't surprise me. Tho it is still pretty shocking. Gazidis evaded answering this as he refrained to go into anything about the manager and players.
I don't accept that I do just follow the official line jaelle though I do try to understand what goes into the decisions that are made even if I dont always agree with them. I don't subscribe to the charge that we have a lot of injuries so the medical department must be crap. Thats far, far too simplistic and logically if it were that simple would be equally simple to solve. As was pointed out it is a far more complex issue than can be explained by just one factor. If you are unable to embrace that logic then I don't see that you're in a position to claim that my mind is closed while yours is open.
He may not be full time but Arsenal does have an Academy Goalkeeping coach. Do they need to be full time? The academy players aren't there full time are they? Given that the Academy team has done well again this season maybe they're not doing too bad a job:
On a totally different topic, this article about Song is wonderful:
I don't accept that I do just follow the official line Amos - You do.
Amos, you are struggling with my point. Arsenal, Chelsea and Man Utd have played approx the same number of games over the last 3 seasons (maybe a couple less for us) give or take. So how the **** do you think we have had less recovery time? and, AND even if we have it would be only a matteer of days over the course of those 3 years I mentioned so in no way shape or form does that affect the amount of injuries we get over the others. It always evens itself up over the course of a season (the gaps between games.) it always does.
.....hence, one of the reasons Gazidis gave is utter tripe. Now that I have explained my point and I have considered both sides and then disagreed with it, how does that make my own personal judgement on his comment unfair or not open minded/middle of the road. Of course, coming from Arsenal's spokesman I wouldn't think we would get anything other than the official party line of "Everyone's wrong, Arsenal are right" from you.
I've used one of your Arsenavs and it keeps directing me to Hampstead Heath. Is that where you lot train?
I am not struggling with your point at all LG as you're clearly not following the one that is being made. I am merely making reference to the analysis the club did and Gazidis reported on (as above). For all I know they employed innumerate kids from the local pre-school playgroup to do the analysis for them. But equally (a tad more likely even) it is possible that they have some pretty good people doing it and they have a point. The point (remember he is only talking about this season) they are making is not that we play more or less games it is that a greater proportion of the fixtures following televised games have shorter breaks between them than others do. The games aren't spread out evenly over the season. It is quite possible over a period of what is it - something like 270+ days of a season? that we have fewer recovery days than some other teams depending on the number of live matches each side plays and when. If you really don't get it that's fine with me but clearly we're both wasting each others time in pursuing it so I'll leave you standing in the middle of the road :)
Oh god! Will to live sapping stuff.
Tony Rocky Horror
Im sure you have quoted LG saying "middle of the road" about 5 times already. I dont know exactly how they work those figures out. For example if every team starts their season on the same day and finishes on the same day over 280 days let say. And over those 280 days Chelsea, United & Arsenal play 60 games. That would leave 220 days of so called rest time through out the season? So how would Arsenal have less days to recover, or am i missing something. Are they only counting the weekend fixture to midweek fixture and then restarting at the weekend again? Explain it to me
It has Amos' fingerprints all over it TRH. I hear Sol trains there of an evening with George Michael lordjohnny.
Clive 49
I think some fans are frustrated at the lack of trophies and looking for petty reasons to have a go at the club. The club have gone through difficult financial times and have been managed well on and off the pitch. I can't understand why some fans are indifferent to AW staying or going. I can't think of another manager who would have been as successful with such limited resources. You don't know what you've got til it's gone as the say...
Please keep your sordid little obsessions with toilet trading to vital scum please chaps, I appreciate you have to cruise and mince your sorry little arses over here to b1tch and moan but you're lowering the tone with your deviant, shady cock and ball licking unpleasantry. Thanks!
I'm not sure whether I should attempt this but let's be positive. I don't know the methodology Gazidis uses for his analysis. If you need more detail it might be worth sending the press secretary at Arsenal an email. They are helpful sometimes. But if I were to guess the way he might have arrived at his figures taking into account his reference to the impact of TV schedules it might work on the basis that if we have had more live matches than Chelsea or ManU on a Sunday or Monday for example followed by a game on a Tuesday or Wednesday so allowing only 2 or 3 days recovery time . You might say that that gives you 4 or 5 days rest before the first fixture but that may not be helpful. If for example a reasonably fit player is able to make 70% recovery with 2 days rest and 90/95% recovery after 3/4 days then the fact that you are 95% or 100% recovered after 4 or 5 days isn't such a dramatic difference. We are still going into a greater disparity in the proportion of games with 70% fit players who could be more prone to injury as a result. Don't get hung up on the figures it's pure guesswork but they just serve to illustrate the logic. As I say I don't know that this is the basis of his analysis but you should be able to see how it could stand up.
I assumed that could be a possibility Amos and without getting hung up on the figures it is worth noting that we have always had at least 3 days between fixtures, only had 1 game on a Monday, always played on a saturday before CL. I would be interested to see how the figures were done considering that their seems to be a big difference between us, united and chelsea even though we have all played the same amoint of games roughly.
Arsenal may have finished a poor 3rd this season but they are joining a coalition with Chelsea and will be having an open top bus ride through London on Sunday to celebrate winning the double.
BigBadBobbyC 9
"Amos: I don't subscribe to the charge that we have a lot of injuries so the medical department must be crap" Who exactly is saying this? The medical department does not obviously CAUSE the injuries, but they dont do a good job of diagnosing and treating them. LD has made his point very well, backed up by numerous examples of players who've had their injuries mis-diagnosed. You will even find a post on the forum started abt 2 seasons back on the inaccuracy of predicting comeback times of injured players by MONTHS (not weeks, it cannot be an exact science of course). Djourou admits he had a problem last season itself, "At the time I wasn't [aware how serious it was] because I thought I had swelling for no reason because I had no pain". He might not have been aware, but the medical dept should have been.
Arsenal play 60, chelsea play 60, man utd play 60 games (just a sround figure - think Paul Robinson for round figures). There will always be the same amount of days between games as they played the same amount of games, regardless if they are from before or afte rthe matchers they still have the same amount of games. Hence Gazidis reasoning is tripe. Same games (ish) same recovery days over all. Doesn't matte rwhich way you dres it the amount of rest time is the same. Forget all this average player this and percentage that) same games, same amount of days. The rest is excuses.
I would be interested to see how the figures were done considering that their seems to be a big difference between us, united and chelsea even though we have all played the same amoint of games roughly paul_ownz - It's cobblers mate. If 2 teams play 60 games a season over the course of say 250 games that leaves each team 190 days rest, end of.
Dismissing something without understanding it is whats cobblers, LG. The analysis talks abt less rest than the opposition we're playing, meaning that if its Arsenal Vs Hull this weekend, then Arsenal may have had 3 days less rest than Hull due to mid week CL action, whilst if its Chelsea Vs Fulham, then it might be only 1 day less rest that Chelsea had over Fulham. Now, if Gazidis has analysed it, its good enough for me, but the club still need to sort out these issues.
Dismissing something without understanding it is whats cobblers, LG. The analysis talks abt less rest than the opposition we're playing, meaning that if its Arsenal Vs Hull this weekend, then Arsenal may have had 3 days less rest than Hull due to mid week CL action, whilst if its Chelsea Vs Fulham, then it might be only 1 day less rest that Chelsea had over Fulham. Now, if Gazidis has analysed it, its good enough for me, but the club still need to sort out these issues.
The quote wasn't less rest than the team we are playing next was it.
I'm sorry but it's completely weak and pointless horse****e. At best over a season it's gonna be a day or 2. Why even bring it up Gazidis.
Seems Gazidis' analysis is too difficult to follow so dismissing it as horse/bull orsome other type of *****e is bound to follow as well. I'm not sure my tone was any different from yours prits. If you can confidently state 'they [medical department] don’t do a good job of diagnosing and treating them' without any possibility of being in a position to know whether that is true or not then you’re guilty of the same act of excess as I am. Anyone can see a misdiagnosis with hindsight but that doesn't mean that the original diagnosis was wrong based on the clinical evidence at the time. It’s perfectly normal for a condition to deteriorate beyond its original state from chronic to acute causing a diagnosis to be amended. Clinicians do it all the time - just watch Holby City! There is nothing in the Djourou story to say that any other clinician would have made any other diagnosis until/unless the condition became acute. The claim that our medical team has fallen short has been around for a few seasons yet in that time we have changed the club doctor and recruited other physios experienced in football. So if the problem doesn't change when the people change then it's fair to assume that other more complex factors (or perhaps it is simply bad luck) play a more significant role. The management of the club is now more professional than it has ever been. If it were as simple as replacing personnel then that would have been done months ago. But of course, as with the task of following Gazidis analysis, I can understand why the popular opinion would always tend to take the path of least resistance.
More patronising comments from you Amos. Gazidis's analysis is a doddle to understand, it's still ridiculously weak though.
I think it's your sense of proportion that's a little weak shewore. Gazidis pointed out that the whole issue was complex and there were many potential factors accounting for the problem. The loss of 12 or 14 rest days over the season compared to our close rivals may or may not be significant on its own but it's a wide enough disparity to warrant consideration.
My sense of proportion is fantastic Amos, trust me. Thanks for acknowledging that I actually understand what he was saying Amos, kind of. Just as well the top 2 clubs don't look at this the other way round and say they were unlucky through not having as much "preperation" days eh. Consider it all you like, it's b0ll0x.
I'll trust it when I see it. The extra preparation days may not offset the lack of recovery time. If you're almost 100% in 3 or 4 days the fact that you get 4 or 5 days rest may not be significant. Your conclusion is fine for you but it isn't a considered one.
I considered it "weak".
I know. That's what I was saying! :)
Amos - You may of had trouble following it........ I said earlier 250 days - 60 games = 190 spare days between matches, rocket science 101 lesson over. No where, in any way shape or form did Gazidis say less recovery time than our "NEXT OPPONENTS" it was a comparison against Utd and Chelsea, which over any season is going to be a few days here and there at most (as per shewore's comment also) So Delta's comments are based on what he ASSUMED was meant, not what was said. Anyway, horse s**t excuse slike that are the reason why we constantly top the injuries table sin the Premier League for many a year and only now they are "investigating" it properly? Phew, they don't have move quick at Arsenal eh?
...…..he then goes onto mention the less rest than the opponents we are playing as a different point than the one against Man Utd and Chelsea having mor erest days.
The whole point is how those spare days are divided up though (which incidentally should be 267 days between start and end dates, 55 games played and as the first and last game are start and end points there would only be 54 ‘between’ games giving 213 ‘spare’ days). It was indeed a comparison between Chelsea and ManU which showed that all teams had fewer recovery days after a televised game but Arsenal had 14 fewer recovery days than Chelsea and 12 fewer than ManU - which he described as 'a significant disparity'. I don't think its rocket science either but it might as well be given the failure to grasp the point. As for changes in the medical department they have been going on for over a year as I mentioned before.
For a club with such hyped up world class state-of-the-art medical facilities, resources and personnel, I find it interesting that ONLY NOW has Arsenal adopted this GPS technology of tracking players' every touch of the ball. Apparently, that system has been in use for quite some time by Utd, Chelsea, Villa and other clubs in the PL. We are in fact lagging behind in adopting it. Just one more piece of evidence that our medical/fitness methods is not, in fact, the unassailable leader in this area.
"Just one more piece of evidence that our medical/fitness methods is not, in fact, the unassailable leader in this area." - that should've read "Just one more piece of evidence that our supposed leadership in this area is not, in fact, unassailable."

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