Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Blame Game Begins

http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/teams/a/arsenal/6448845.stm

The blame game on Titi's injury has commenced. No surprise that Wenger blames Domenech and his usage of Henry for the striker's season ending injuries. Wenger does have a point, post world cup the French played a friendly against Bosnia, in which Henry plays the entire 90 minutes. Wenger complains that he should not have played the entire game....I partially agree. This was the only tune up game prior to France starting their Euro qualifying campaigns....and the second game in that exercise was going to be against the Italians. Should Henry have been substituted out...maybe....but would his only playing 60 minutes or 45 minutes saved him from future injury...doubtful. The subsequent friendlies in question - Greece and Argentina.

The Greece match was the last international for the 2006 season and in honor of the World Cup winners in 1998 and Euro winners 2000, two teams where Henry played prominently...and the Argentina match is to get ready for the restart of qualifiers. Again, in both matches Henry could have sat for 30 or 45 minutes....but again in the grand scheme would that have "saved" his season...doubtful.

The real culprit behind these players breaking down is the ridiculous overall domestic and international schedules these players are asked to play. Arsenal played well over 60 games in 2006 if you count Premier games, FA cup and Champions League (I will not count Carling Cup since Wenger rarely plays players such as Henry). Now add in the run France made at the World Cup and that adds another 7 games, including 3 pre-world cup warm up matches. Assuming Henry averages 90 minutes a game, you are looking at over 6300 minutes and at least double that in terms of practice minutes. If Domenech sits Henry for a full games or halves of games during the friendlies that represents 2% of the overall game time Henry might log! Maybe the other 98% of the time Henry is running around the pitch is the time when he might have injured himself....

I think if Wenger is really concerned about wear and tear on his players he needs to look at the schedule Arsenal and other domestic teams play. The International schedule is minor in regards of the amount of football a player is asked to play....with the Champions League you play 6 games before even getting into the knock out stages. With the FA cup and its replay rules, you at times find yourself playing a home and away schedule when you did not plan to. The Carling Cup adds games, that appear to be completely useless.....and with 20 teams in the premiership the toll it takes on players is noticeable. But of course these games pay the salaries, fill the coffers of the domestic teams and pay Wenger his high salaries, so he rather not critic that golden goose.

Again, I have been critical of Domenech and primarily his relationship or lack thereof he has with the domestic managers, but Wenger needs to check himself as well. This season I feel that Arsene has been particularly whiny. Rather than throwing blame around he should focus on the opportunity to get his young Gunners focused on ending the season in a strong fashion and building for the future.

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