By Chris Harris
Ivan Gazidis believes a state-of-the-art GPS tracking system could help Arsenal ease their injury problems in years to come.
Arsène Wenger had to contend with more than his fair share of absentees during the 2009/10 campaign with up to a dozen players injured at any one time. It's impossible to quantify exactly how that impacted Arsenal's quest for honours but it certainly did not help.
Nonetheless, the Arsenal medical team have now introduced new technology in order to monitor players’ fatigue levels. At a Q&A with Arsenal shareholders this week, Gazidis explained how GPS tracking can help.
"If there are things we can do [to prevent injuries] we will do them," said the Chief Executive. "For example, we've introduced a GPS system this year for the first time. This is tracking literally from satellites in space, the training movements on the training field of every player.
"It gives you a lot of information. It tells you not just how far the players are running and how fast they are running and what levels of intense activity they have in training. It also measures something called 'the load' - and this is literally the amount of time a player's foot is on the ground while he is running.
"You can see if you have a player coming up to a risk of injury in a subsequent game because you can see two things in general: one is that their work-rate comes down in training and secondly their 'load' increases. In other words, their foot stays on the ground for longer when they run. When you are feeling good and feeling active you are 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."
It's no surprise to see Arsenal in the vanguard of clubs already using this new technology. But Gazidis is not expecting GPS tracking to have a major effect next season.
"Unfortunately to get the full benefits of that and fully understand it you need to have a long record of any individual player so it takes a while to build up because every player is different," he said.
"It takes a while to build that record to get the full benefit of that system. We're unlikely to see the benefits really coming through until the second half of next year. But that's the type of investment - and there are others - that we are making to try and push forward and get ourselves to the cutting edge with respect to our injury management."Copyright 2017 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source