Arsenal keeper fined for smoking but drinking causes more problems

After news of a bust-up between Arsenal’s Wojciech Szczesny and Arsene Wenger after the game against Southampton on New Year’s Day, the truth is starting to emerge.

Caught smoking in the showers at St. Mary’s the Pole was fined £20,000 for his pure stupidity.

But, according to sports physician Dr Phil Batty, alcohol and tiredness should be more of a concern for clubs than smoking. Of course, he wasn’t asked about players being daft enough to actually smoke in a changing room just yards from the management and coaching staff.

Speaking to the Independent, Dr. Batty said

“More players from abroad smoke, that’s a fact.

“When I was at Blackburn, Tugay was well known for it. Without condoning either, if you pick up a niggle, a bump or a minor strain in training, it is exacerbated hugely by alcohol.

“I can scan somebody via ultrasound who has pulled a muscle one day; they get fed up and go for a few beers. When I scan them again, everything is more swollen and there is far more fluid everywhere.”

In the modern game anything that can give you the slight edge over your rivals should be grabbed with both hands and player availability, unsurprisingly, is a major factor in how well a club can do over the course of a season.

Arsenal, of course, have suffered more injuries this season than any other club. Dr Batty, who has served as Senior Men’s Team Doctor for the England Rudgy team as well as club doctor for Manchester City and Blackburn Rovers continued

“All managers have an obsession with player availability.

“Clubs with higher player availability tend to do well. In 2011-12, Manchester City won the Premier League on goal difference and we had far fewer injured players than Manchester United.

“It is the same at international tournaments. Managers will look at a footballer who might be half-fit and take a gamble on them because as a manager you tend to get only one shot at a World Cup.

“You ask why England go into so many tournaments with injured players? It is because of tiredness.

“When a footballer is tired, they don’t move correctly, their technique drops off and they put unnecessary strain on their bodies.

“As a generalism, what I tended to find was that English footballers would drink more than foreigners.

“Not all. I worked with James Milner at Manchester City and he was a fantastic professional. He is teetotal, a great guy who decided at an early age that he did not want anything to compromise his football.

“It is not totally about avoiding alcohol. When I was at Manchester City we would have a glass of wine with our pre-match meal and Roberto Mancini preferred to have red wine served.”

While smoking is rightly frowned upon in society, the harm that alcohol causes is often ignored if it’s ever thought about at all.

Laurent Blanc and Fabian Barthez used to smoke in the toilets at half-time during their time with Manchester United so what Szczesny did on New Year’s day is nothing new.

That doesn’t make it any less stupid.

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Lee Hurley

Writer specialising in good football and bad relationships. If in doubt, assume sarcasm.