How fitness can affect football games by KJ
I noticed something on Saturday that was rather surprising (and I’m not talking about our defending). It was Everton’s fitness levels. They were struggling massively after the 80th minute and the only real reason we scored was because they had entirely switched off at that point. I’m sure if the match had lasted 5 minutes longer, we would’ve ended up winners.
I wanted to address fitness and how it affects football matches. Everton is one example but another is the game against Besiktas. They failed to capitalise when we went a man down simply because they were too tired at that point and if anything, we looked more likely to score.
This is one thing Arsenal are good at, we have generally been really good at preparing our players for the early part of the season and we usually start out brightly. This is important considering the possession game we play. Teams who play us at the Emirates usually sit back and defend as much as possible. But they will tire eventually and that’s why we always manage to break through against weaker teams at the Emirates late on. They just don’t have the stamina to keep up with the onslaught. This is also why Chelsea are so good at sitting back and defending. They are probably one of the fittest teams in Europe and can therefore sit back against stronger teams when needed as they can physically compete for the entire 90 minutes.
It was particularly odd that Martinez’s Everton were struggling late on. With the bigger teams, they are always fitter than the weaker teams and it’s an integral part of their success as a bigger team. But Everton were very leggy against us. I don’t know if Martinez failed to build up their fitness during pre-season or whether we had tired them out. Either way, it’s clear to see how important fitness and stamina are to the modern game.
After the game on Saturday and the influence fitness had on the match, I felt it was important to highlight that and hopefully we can appreciate that aspect of the game a bit more and how it impacts the phases during a game.