Were Arsenal too unfit to compete before Arteta’s ‘exhausting’ training regime?

There is no doubt that under Unai Emery we lost many a lead to so-called ‘lesser teams’ who came back at us after we took the lead, and it could simply be the fact that the players were too unfit to maintain pressure for the whole 90 minutes.

Well, it now looks Mikel Arteta is definitely trying to remedy the problem, and in fact, according to the Arsenal guru David Ornstein, the players are physically exhausted after taking training sessions with our new coach.

“Mikel Arteta’s been in for a couple of weeks now and there are some little things you’re hearing that reflect positively on the new regime and there was one player I heard about who was explaining how hard training is,” Ornstein told The Athletic podcast.

“Not just the demands on players that Arteta is putting on them for matches but training is said to be absolutely exhausting, to the extent that he was due to have somebody come round to his house on a day off and he said to them ‘no I need to lie in today’ – and that was just from training! They’re knackered.

“I think Arteta gave them a couple of days off after the Manchester United match so I think that was Thursday and Friday but training has been very intense.

“Incredibly tactical is the word that is coming out.”

In Arteta’s first game at the Emirates, Arsenal were all over Chelsea in the first half, but we faded to oblivion in the second and Frank Lampard’s side came back with two goals in the last ten minutes. It also happened that we couldn’t keep up the pace against Man United, but as we had a two-goal cushion by half-time we just had to dig deep and see the game out to grab the points. So it is no surprise that Arteta gave the players a couple of days off, but the question is, for that particular game, is were they just generally unfit or were they even more exhausted after training with Arteta?

All we can hope is that the players buckle down to Arteta’s training and get used to upping their energy levels so they can easily last 90 minutes (if not 120 in some games). And stop letting our opponents into the game…


  1. About time too. Most of them have looked heavy legged after 10 minutes of a competitive match. I watch Liverpool play and I’m amazed they can chase a ball constantly for 90+ minutes! It’s obviously a winning formula. To be pushed further and further to be fitter will definitely have some repercussions in the short term (Burn-out) but, in the long term this team will reap the rewards I’m sure!

    1. You make really good points
      Do you think MA should be going gung-ho or increase their fitness levels more gradually?

      1. I think MA is right to apply his style of coaching quickly. I can imagine he has watched Pep @ City doing exactly the same. I remember when Mharez went to City and he was not as fit as he is now. Of course, we all know Pep learned his trade at Barcelona where the same levels of training are expected. Fast and hard!!

    2. Yes, Liverpool players play as if they use steroids. Arsenal should have collected those types of players

      Guardiola and Klopp seem to employ similar high intensity training. The Gunners must adopt it if they want to win major trophies

      1. Yes Liverpool play as if they were on steroids and Spuds fans have to be on steroids to support a shit club!

  2. There was a time when we were arguably the fittest team in the EPL, now we are probably the opposite. A lot of complacency and drift occured during AW’s final years and the 18 months under UE. Granted the modern game of high press requires an even higher level of fitness which we are not prepared for. Arteta has a huge task ahead of him but I’m sure, given time, he will get there. To get there he need to shed some of the older players, and certainly not buy any more in the January window.

  3. Kolasinac is another one who’s had a transformation. Niles looks better, Ozil has trans-morphed into something I didn’t believe I would ever see. Wingers are tracking back and doing as much work out there than they do in trying to close in on the other end. Kolasinac has looked a different player, he looks strong, he looks like a difficult opponent, you know you’re in a game should you choose to take him on. Auba, working his socks off despite him being one of the best (last third players) in the league, not one complaint, he smiles and he gets on with it. Laca, just needs a goal. Pepe scares the crap out of opponents, utd were terrified of him, and he’s working back the other way. We’ve had two clean sheets now and it’s easy to see why, and what makes it even better is the fans are fully aware of how important these things are, when our players pick up their men, and get tight, getting stuck in, then our fans give that stuff the biggest cheer, it’s good to let the players know how much this is appreciated.

      1. gotanidea
        i would have to totally disagree with you on this matter.
        you must off been watching a different game.
        the first half and they had pepe and the rest of the tied up and camped in our half
        so much better in the 2nd half but wouldn’t say he bullied the LB by far

    1. Gunnerphilic, I would also add AW’s last two years to your assessment of the time under UE and he found it impossible to change that mentality unfortunately.

      The only difference being that, under Wenger we did at least attack, unlike UE, so the pressing game that will show players fitness levels, were not as obvious then.

      Same players, just a different mindset from MA and whether your young or old (in footballing terms), fit in or else!!!1

      1. Spot on @ Ken1945!

        I noticed a lot of changes in the style and pace under Arsene’s last few seasons. That I think was ultimately his downfall because other teams were obviously fitter and faster than we were. We attacked as quick as we could, yes. But, we were always suckered on the counter-attack and were too slow to regroup and defend..

        I am glad that MA is ringing the changes so quickly. There is no time for gradual change at this time of the season. I also think MA will find out very quickly who is “just not cutting it” under his new guidance and “Full on” training sessions. Ready for a small clear out during the summer!

      2. ken
        happy new year
        i found it so disheartening to see our players out of condition and our former manager who i presumed built his game on pressing and fitness leaving a squad of players not fit for purpose.
        how the board have let this linger on for the length of time is beyond me.. action should have been called for months ago.
        well what is done is done now but hopefully MA can get us slowly back on track…

        1. The same goes to you AB, I agree that this was one of our ex managers most unwelcome legacies and UE had to try and rescue a squad that had become, at the very least, lethargic.

          Not sure how the board could have been blamed for and done anything about what went on at training though?They awarded him an undeserved salary increase of course, is that the angle you are coming from?
          If so, I agree completely.

          As GunneRay says, it was a gradual decline, covered by the obsessive need to attack, but hey ho!!!
          MA has already got them to another level and the players seem to be responding – who knows, we might be able to press for the full90 minutes befor February!?!?

  4. I sincerely hope they don’t burn out, cos we’re approaching the business end of the season. I believe that the drive towards higher fitness levels should be methodical. I heard Arteta made them train the morning b4 the Utd game. I don’t know if that will make them fitter, or get exhausted during the game.
    Well, MA seems to know what he’s doing and the players also seem to have bought into his ideas.
    I really wish him the very best, cos we need Arsenal back in the UCL asap.

  5. I remember there being a similar article praising Emery for his high intensity training and slaggin off AW for his lack of…Make up your minds here…

    1. Not really, NY_Gunner..

      AW was too layed back. UE was quicker but not quick enough (Obviously). MA is full on!!

      1. @GunnerRay
        And yet AWs training methods were said to be the reason many of the players got injured so much, but because of the intensity. You can’t have it both ways dude. Plus my comment was aimed at a previous post where Emery was praised for the intensity of his training when he first came here as opposed to AWs… Try and keep up.

        1. @ NY_Gunner

          AW’s training methods were dated and arguably the reason for many injuries?! Most Arsenal players would pull out of competitive tackles for fear of injury. Maybe not tough enough?
          We all know you are sour against any Arsenal fan who wanted AW out of the club “dude”, you just need to get over it!

          As for your “comment was aimed at a previous post”, remark, really?

          1. @GunnerRay
            Just as you and many others need to get over trying to lay the blame on him for just about every short coming of the club since he left. And I’m not sour he left, but just gutted on how it was done. Because without a doubt be put this club on the footballing map, and with his training methods being among the many ways he has… Get it right or leave it be… Dude

  6. i used to be pissed off to see Arsenal players ran over as if they are standing especially against man city till you wonder do man city players have 3 legs?They were just walking watching them slaughter us like chicken…its a bit comfortable watching arsenal nowadays and hope we can improve

  7. Funnily enough I was thinking along these lines as well this morning.

    I also think depth in squad has a lot to do with it as well.

    Towards the end of Wenger’s dictatorship we always started the season well. By the start of November we were still in the race to win the league. That’s when we started to drop off the pace and the season went tits up. I won’t go into details about Wenger. All I’ll say is you learn from history.

    When Emery first took over we started well and were on the front foot, played with intensity and were winning games. I was actually happy with Emery then and felt positive. Remember fans singing “we’ve got our Arsenal Back”. But again towards November we dropped off again. Maybe Emery identified that we didn’t have the stamina to maintain that level of intensity for the whole season and didn’t have depth in squad to rest players who were starting to burn out. Maybe Emery thought this season we’ll play with less intensity, keep the ball and let the opposition do all the running, rotate players to try to keep them fresher and work on the fitness in training. Or maybe Emery was just out of his depth and was tactically inept.
    Ramsey’s injury put the final nail in the coffin for last season. We lost his creativity with no one feeding balls through defences. and had no one to replace him. It should of been Ozil but by that stage Emery had lost the dressing room.
    That’s all maybe’s and as we know it didn’t work out for him.

    Now is a new chapter under Arteta. Hopefully with his new training methods we can keep the energy levels up to last throughout the whole season and bring in some quality players so we can rotate if players start to burn out or get injured.

    If we do have a poor finish towards the end of the season we need to remember to give Arteta time and to be patient with him and the squad. All the toxicity at the Emirates has a negative effect on the squad.
    If you want to vent your anger do it towards Silent Stan but let the players and Arteta know we’re behind them.


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