Burgess: Arsenal training now 'much more aggressive'
Written by Simon Austin — April 20, 2019
ARSENAL Director of Performance Darren Burgess says training has become much more “aggressive” since he arrived at the club at the end of 2017.
The Australian joined from Port Adelaide in July 2017, although he did not work full-time with the Gunners until the end of that year.
He told Optus Sport: “Probably in the Premier League sometimes, because of the money and the reluctance to injure players because they’re worth so much, they try to protect the players a little bit.
“I believe you build resilience into players and that protects them from injury, so we’ve had a much more aggressive training approach since I’ve been here.”
This tallies with what other leading practitioners have told TGG recently. Paul Devlin, Head of Performance for the Brisbane Broncos, said: “A lot of teams think they have a magic GPS number that lets them know when a player has hit their limit. Our philosophy is we don’t know what the limits are and have to keep pushing until we can find them.”
Wales Head of Performance Tony Strudwick said: “One of the biggest issues of our current generation is that sports science is putting limits on performance. Our job is to create newer athletes, the football athlete of the future, who is robust, resilient and can cope with increases in load.”
Burgess, who was Head of Fitness and Conditioning at Liverpool for two years before joining Port Adelaide in 2012, also said there had been a difference in approach between Arsene Wenger, who was manager when he joined, and Unai Emery, who took over from the Frenchman last summer.
“They’re both workaholics,” Burgess told former Australia goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer in the interview you can see above. “Arsene would look at more the totality, whereas Unai breaks down a lot of different movements and a lot of different aspects of the game.
“Arsene’s sessions were more possession and game-based, whereas Unai will have that but also break down different aspects, there is a bunch more defined aspects in the training sessions.”
Burgess admitted: “It was a really big risk coming here (to Arsenal). I signed for three years but Arsene only had two, so I knew there was probably going to be a change of manager. The chance to be here and get back in the Premier League was just too good though.
"Unai has been a great fit for us because he really does embrace everything about performance, he just loves to get the extra 1% and looks to us to help him get that."
Burgess described his role as supervising “the fitness, nutrition, rehab, physios, doctors, analysts, psychologists for first team and Academy, so Under-8s all the way through to the first team.”
When asked by Schwarzer to pick out two players who were outstanding in training, Burgess said: ”I tell you who I really like - the two central midfielders, Lucas Torreira and Granit Xhaka.
“I love the fact that in every single session and drill Torreira takes it personally if someone gets by him. Granit is exactly the same, whether it’s in the gym or on the pitch - every moment counts. I reckon that separates the really good players from the top players.”