by Nia Griffiths

Martin Keown has empathised with the current Arsenal squad and the difficulty of pre-season preparation.

Reminiscing about his time at Arsenal, where he spent much of his footballing career, the former defender spoke about how intense training can be at the beginning of the season when you’re not fit. He also revealed what some of the toughest training sessions entailed and the lengths the squad has to go to in order to reach peak fitness before the new season.

“I did 23 pre-seasons and none of them were easy! During my early days at Arsenal, both Don Howe and George Graham were massive on fitness,” he said. “We needed a map and compass to accomplish some of the cross-country runs Graham sent us on, and there was always a feeling of dejection when you started one of Howe’s runs – you knew you were going to be running up hill for the next 20 minutes.”

The former centre-back continued, “One time under Graham, he made us run 10 yards, then 20, then 30 all the way to 100, followed by another 50 yards and two more hundred-yard runs. At the end of that we’d all be flat on the floor and he’d be going berserk, telling us to get on our feet and do it again. Afterwards he’d say, ‘I’ve proved you can achieve something you didn’t think you could, now take that lesson into the season’.”

The Arsenal legend also revealed the different training styles under different coaches. Apparently, Arsene Wenger’s style is completely different to his predecessors, which I’m sure will come as a surprise to no one whatsoever.

“Under Wenger there was hardly any running, it was all about ball work – though I suppose it was disguised running, as it didn’t feel so bad when you had the ball at your feet. But whoever the manager was, they’d always have you looking forward to the first game of the season.”

Keown spent two stints at Arsenal. The first being only two years (1984-86) and the second being from 1993 – 2004. He featured in 365 matches in total during his career with us.

Keown was part of the Invincibles team and saw Arsenal through some huge milestones. He’ll go down in history as one of the best Arsenal defenders.