Former Arsenal defender Martin Keown refuses to blame Arsene Wenger for the Gunners' debilitating injury problems but insists that there was a period during the end of his career when they trained on hard artificial surfaces which took a toll on his back. Keown left Arsenal in 2004, having spent 11 illustrious years with the north London club and is familiar with the medical staff that the Gunners employ.
Arsenal are without 10 first team players through injury, with Santi Cazorla, Alexis Sanchez and Laurent Koscielny all coming out of their game against Norwich City with problems. Francis Coquelin and Mikel Arteta were among the other absentees, having come off against West Bromwich Albion, leaving the Gunners severely depleted in the central midfield position.
Mathieu Flamini is currently being deployed in midfield while Calum Chambers is being prepared for a stint in place of Coquelin, with Arsene Wenger looking to see through all his options before delving into the market. The Gunners have collected only two points from their last three games, a period which has taken them back to fourth, two points adrift of leaders Manchester City. One concern, though, is the number of muscle injuries.
Keane spoke about his time in Highbury when the Gunners had built a training pitch reminiscent of the pitch in Highbury and which contributed to his back problems.
"Towards the end of my career at Arsenal we trained on a hybrid surface — artificial fibres combined with grass — that replicated the pitch at Highbury. It looked like a snooker table and was very stable but it was too firm for me. Every player is different but I suffered with back problems, particularly with jumping and landing," Keane told the Daily Mail.
"I know first-hand that Arsenal's medical staff and facilities are second to none. Arsene Wenger's attention to detail means they will be doing everything they can," he added.