Arsenal manager Joe Montemurro says there is “a massive amount of internal review” taking place at the club at the moment in light of a “concerning” number of injuries.
The Gunners currently have seven players nursing problems as they prepare for this weekend’s north London derby against arch-rivals Tottenham.
That isn’t including a number who have spent time out since the new season started at the beginning of September, either.
“There is a massive, massive amount of internal review that we are doing because it's something that has crept up on us in an area where we felt we were very, very strong,” Montemurro explained.
“Is it load management? Possibly. Is it the accumulation of games? Possibly. Is it the long pause of games and now, suddenly, there are lots of games and there is the stress of real-game situations as opposed to training at home alone? Possibly.
“We're trying to work out where and how and why this has happened. We need to be better at understanding all of this. There is no finger pointing here, this is about us coming together as a group, as a wider Arsenal, and also how we work with individuals on a specific basis and looking at how we can get better results.
“We need to look at it and be better because it's an area where we are a little bit concerned."
That is despite a lot of extra precautions taken this season by the club, off the back of such a long break without football, too.
“There’s been more in terms of the screening and nutrition and the understanding of where they’re at. We’ve done a lot in terms of the mental health and the psychology areas. Those two areas are non-negotiables for us,” Montemurro said.
“I do have a feeling that professional athletes being out of the game for six months, in terms of the impact, in terms of the moment, the decision making, the different scenarios in terms of football pressure and football environments as opposed to isolated training, has taken its toll.
“One of the things we’ve tried to do from day one was to simulate and integrate real football situations as much as we could. A football moment is different to replicating it in training and replicating it on your own at home.
“The turns are different, the ball travels differently, the grass is different, the pressure is different, so we’d just try to replicate that as much as we can, but I think the long period out doing those football actions I think has taken its toll.”
After this weekend’s clash with Spurs, Arsenal will lose a large amount of their players to the international break, with as many as 13 away with their countries for the latter half of October.
Montemurro says there are conversations ongoing with those national teams as he aims to protect his players ahead of what will be a long season, with the Gunners likely to go far, once again, in the cup competitions.
“We give a lot of data to the national teams pre-camp,” he explained.
“We would expect the national teams to look at the data of where the player is coming in, at what load level, but also from a football playing perspective, and look at the type of games, because some games are obviously more intense than others. So that gives you an idea of where the player is going into camp.
“We give a lot of detail in regard to information to all the national teams. What they do with it? We hope they respect [it], as much as we respect the fact that [the players] go on national team duty.
“We hope they respect our ability to give that information, but also the fact that they spend most of the year with us.
“There is dialogue, there is communication, there's a lot of thought process from our side because we have to accumulate [their national team game time] as part of their load.
“We've had a history of players coming back injured from national team scenarios, but what they do with [the data] is with the national team.”