How American sprint legend Michael Johnson is speeding up Arsenal's young Gunners

 

As one of the great athletes of the last two decades, Michael Johnson represented the notion of invincibility in sport long before the great unbeaten Arsenal team of 2003-2004 reached similar heights, although it was an Arsenal squad of rather more modest ambitions that the American watched train yesterday.

Johnson was a guest of the club at the training session before tonight's Champions League game against Olympiakos, the Greek champions, who lost their first game to Schalke. Arsène Wenger has started sending some of his young players to Johnson's athletic performance school just outside Dallas, Texas, during the summer to improve their strength and power with a view to breaking into the first team.

Arsenal's Spanish defender Ignasi Miquel was the most recent graduate of the academy to be dispatched to the Michael Johnson performance centre for work on his power. Had Miquel come back noticeably different? "Yes," Wenger said, "but not fast enough to win a gold medal.

"You have two ways to run quickly. I will teach you now," Wenger said. "First is to do your movement as quickly as possible but you gain that very quickly. You will not improve that at the age of 18. The second is to have more power on your push [off from the ground]. That is quite logical. If I can run at the same pace but can gain power – every time I push I gain five or one inch more – I will be quicker if I can repeat the frequency of my movement."

Wenger went on to explain the development of young players and the testosterone boost that makes them mature at the beginning of their twenties and its likely benefits for Miquel. Sadly for the player himself, he might have been schooled according to one of the greatest Olympians of all time but he was not even among the 18 Arsenal players who trained yesterday. After defeat at home to Chelsea on Saturday, there are some decisions to be made by Wenger on his team tonight.

Abou Diaby is out of action, with Wenger blaming the player's current problems – he came off after 17 minutes of the Chelsea game – partly on the decision by the France Football Federation to call him up during the last international break. "I said many times that if France wanted Diaby in Spain they should not take him for the Finland and Belarus games," he said.

 

 

Roy Hodgson is due at the Emirates tonight, partly to watch Carl Jenkinson, who is still holding out for an England call-up amid strong interest from Finland, for whom he played Under-21 football.

Mikel Arteta did not train yesterday and a decision will be made on his fitness today with Francis Coquelin a possible replacement. There is also a call to be made on whether Olivier Giroud starts the game, although it is more likely to be Gervinho who begins as his side's key striker.

Giroud scored for the club against Coventry City in the Capital One Cup, although that does not seem to mean as much to Wenger as the striker might have hoped. "Once the first [goal] goes in maybe the rest will follow," the manager said. "He is upset. I told him not to worry but you say what you want. A striker who doesn't score, doesn't really listen to you. They run it through their minds over and over again."

Wenger was keen to put the brakes on any notion that Jack Wilshere will be back in action soon, appealing to questioners about his return for Arsenal Under-21s on Monday to be "serious". He will continue with Vito Mannone in goal tonight, with Wojciech Szczesny likely to be out for another two weeks.

The Arsenal manager, who will serve the penultimate game of his three-match Uefa touchline ban tonight, also contributed to the debate sparked by Sergio Aguero over what he claimed was the victimisation of foreign players by Premier League referees. Wenger said: "I don't think so. The players are sometimes a victim of what they have done before and when they get a reputation they sometimes might not get penalties that are penalties.

"When the referee sees a dive they are of course harder with the same players and that is a consequence as well. I don't like to go into a nationalistic way of refereeing. People said that foreign players brought the diving in, but I think English players learned very quickly."

Kick-off 7.45pm, Emirates Stadium (Sky Sports 4)

Referee S O Moen (Nor)

Odds Arsenal 1-3 Draw 4-1 Olympiakos 9-1

Manager backs gazidis pay-rise

Arsène Wenger defended the 36 per cent pay-rise awarded to Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis who has seen his total salary package rise to £2.15m, including a £675,000 bonus, according to the club's latest accounts that were released last week.

Wenger said: "I don't know that Ivan Gazidis got a wage rise, I'm happy for him. We signed contracts here. We go to the end of our contracts and we're not interested [in discussion of salaries]."

Sam Wallace

Related article from London's Evening Standard...

I’d be amazed if Arsenal aren’t clocking Klopp

Jenkinson and Gibbs are giving Wenger plenty to fall back on

 

 

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Starting the day with a three-egg omelette could make people more charitable, according to new research
science
News
Top Gun actor Val Kilmer lost his small claims court battle in Van Nuys with the landlord of his Malibu mansion to get back his deposit after wallpapering over the kitchen cabinets
people
News
Comedian Ted Robbins collapsed on stage during a performance of Phoenix Nights Live at Manchester Arena (Rex)
people
News
The actress Geraldine McEwan was perhaps best known for playing Agatha Christie's detective, Miss Marple (Rex)
peopleShe won a Bafta in 1991 for her role in Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit
News
newsPatrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
News
Robert Fraser, aka Groovy Bob
peopleA new show honours Robert Fraser, one of the era's forgotten players
Life and Style
Torsten Sherwood's Noook is a simple construction toy for creating mini-architecture
tech
Sport
David Silva celebrates with Sergio Aguero after equalising against Chelsea
footballChelsea 1 Manchester City 1
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links