Arsene Wenger says today’s top-level footballers are better protected on the physical front but are still prone to ‘mental burnout’ at this time of the season given the regularity of games and the pressure that comes with them.
At this time of the year, with the fixtures piling up, players seemingly struggle to put mistakes made in one game to the back of their mind before the next.
Indeed, after last weekend’s 1-1 draw with Southampton, the boss hinted that his players showed a lack of confidence that resulted from the poor start made in the previous game against Manchester United.
“I felt the goal we conceded at Southampton was a bit of a consequence of the Man United game,” he said ahead of Arsenal’s trip to West Ham.
“We were a bit apprehensive and not confident enough. We have not to make too much a problem of it. We scored late, Southampton could make a problem of that, it’s part of it [the game]. We certainly did not start with enough confidence.”
On whether fatigue is likely to be a problem, Wenger went on: “Compared to twenty or thirty years ago, the players have a better surrounding on the scientific front.
“They are better controlled, we give them all the medical assistance and technical assistance we can. We have a lot of scientists around the team who protect them well, but there is as well a mental burnout.
“Competition at that level, every three days, demands a lot of energy. The players are under huge pressure today and the resistance to stress is a big part of it.
“It’s more a mental burnout most of the time, players who do not really respond to expectations of themselves, and [players that] question themselves and have problems to deal with the intensity of the demands they have for themselves.”