Over the summer I was lucky enough to visit the Arsenal Training Ground at London Colney. People are not nomrally allowed to take too many pictures or detailed notes when they visit London Colney but I asked nicely. They agreed I could share what I was told but asked that the information "not be spread too far or too wide". So keep it to yourself! (wink).
The guy who showed us round was the Training Centre Manager at London Colney and has worked at Arsenal FC for over 20 years. These are his comments, quips, and opinions during the tour:-
London Colney is a £70m facility and Arsene Wenger was the power behind it all.
Their mantra is "The Arsenal Way or highway".
The place uses mostly natural light wherever possible.
Sanchez was "a very difficult person". They are glad to see the back of him.
Mkhitaryan is (currently) the nicest player in the team.
Ray Palour was the club's favourite player. Everyone at the training ground loved him.
There is a communial dressing / changing room. The lockers have numbers next to them but no doors on them. All personal items are on display. No locks.
Pires and Henry didn’t sit by their right locker numbers - they had a little 'French corner' they sat in together talking in French until Wenger told them to stop.
Arsene would stop whilst walking through the communial changing area and if he spotted clothes lying on the floor or dirt on floor he would ask one of the players to pick it up.
The players had to fully strip off in the changing arear before going into large shower area. All the showers are also communial. No doors.
Players boots are all made to measure, specially weighted to taste. They are preconditioned, don’t need to be "walked in", cost £250 a pair, and last on average 4 months.
Leno has size really small feet. Size 6.
If a player gets injured they have routine to follow:
1. 20 min swim in the training facility pool
2. high impact training under careful monitoring
3. an ice bath
This cycle is repeated three times every day.
For serious cuts or bruises they must go into the cryogenic chamber for 3 mins.
It is set at -130c.
The shock of the cold closes any damaged tissue, minimises injury, and locks the blood vessels.
Players are now trained to play for 100 mins non-stop. Under Arsene Wenger's early tenure this used to be just 70 mins non-stop.
They practice over and over 40m runs (typical distance).
Pace during the 2017/18 season was 40% faster than during the Invincibles season.
There is a sand pit in the gym which is used to support training for ankle injuries.
45 HD cameras in the Emirates Stadium film everything on the pitch. After any home game the film is converted into 3D within two days and shown to each player in Virtual Reality. So each player can relive game using goggles to recreate what they did (or didn't) do.
They are filmed in the gym too. 3D analysis of movement doing cardio workout will tell you are they working out differently - better or worse. And even anticipate potential injuries and allow the trainers to intercede.
RVP was a lovely guy but over-trained during the week so couldn't always perform at weekends.
Patrick Viera was a terrible trainer but great player and could always perform at weekends.
Even 16 year olds are trained to last 90 mins on the pitch.
This is a complete change in last 5 years to the training schedule.
Schooling / Education:
AFC employ 6 full time tutors.
The boys are foster-monitored 3 days a week.
Schooled to a minimum A level standard.
Foreign students learn English in 14 days.
Most take 2 coaching badges by the time they are 18yo.
Bendtner refused to follow this path of schooling and is now paying the price.
To prep for games the players have clips of themselves and their opposition sent to their devices. For example Nacho would have clips of opposition sent to his iPhone and iPad in advance of game on matchday to watch on the coach.
Scouts sit in video rooms at London Colney watching video feeds of games all day in other countries. To spot talent. e.g. even a Bolivian junior game.
Under Emery there has been much more stats analysis than under Wenger.
858 players have played for AFC.
Respect is paramount. Arsenal values. If they don't care they are gone.
A large team of counsellors look after each player's player mental health.
10-20 boys join every year. 50 boys here total. Can sign at 8 yo.!
Emery is training team very hard. He has a plan, a strategy, will take two years to acheive results.
Gallas was a good example of a player that did no training on his summer holiday. Had to work very hard to return to fitness.
Rob Holding stays at training ground all day everyday.
The training ground never closes.
When it openned there were 99 trainers and players. In 2018 there are 254 trainers and players.
There has been a £14m refurb of youth area that Per looks after.
A computer programmer who worked on Candy Crush now works for Arsenal full time doing data analysis.
Players go to the Emirates stadium the night before a home game, park their car, then all stay in hotel overnight. They are then driven to the stadium on matchday by coach. They then drive their own cars home after the game.