Arsenal recruited the former head fitness coach of the Germany national team Shad Forsythe to help the current backroom team. Wenger, however, maintained there could have been no way to forsee another injury setback after forward Olivier Giroud fractured a bone in his foot when making a last-minute tackle against Everton and France defender Mathieu Debuchy caught his studs in the Emirates Stadium pitch which resulted in a broken ankle. “What is different (this season) is we have a bit more prevention than before for the players to prepare for the competition, and I think we have made progress,” said Wenger. “(But) for us this season, we had big injuries and coincidental injuries. “For example Giroud – I don’t know what we can do about Giroud’s injury? Debuchy was on his own when he did the ankle, then you have Ozil. “(Do) you know how Ozil did the injury? Passing the ball with the outside left foot. He must have done that a million times. “Ozil was on his own. He told me he just wanted to give the ball like that (flicked with the outside of his foot) and heard a little crack. “There are a lot of post-World Cup injuries and not many soft tissue injuries.” Ozil is not expected to feature again for Arsenal until the start of 2015. Wenger, though, stressed there should be no concerns over how the player was managed at Stamford Bridge. “He (Ozil) did not tell me anything during the game, I did not even know,” said Wenger, whose side tackle Hull on Saturday looking to close back ground on the top four. “What happened was that at half-time, just before we went out, the physio told me ‘Ozil has a little pain with his knee, but it is not bad’. “He wanted to go on and I told him ‘if you don’t feel well, tell me and I will take you off straight away’. He never did that during the whole game, and after that I left him on because we were in a position where we needed to score a goal and he can deliver the final ball. “Then after the game, he went to Germany. With Germany, they thought at the start it was nothing. “We played on Sunday, on Monday he was off, and on Tuesday they gave him the day off. He was supposed to practise on Wednesday. “On Wednesday morning, he said he could still not practise. “They sent him for a scan, and in this scan they discovered that he had a knee ligament injury which is quite serious.” Defender Laurent Koscielny is not available because of an inflamed Achilles. Winger Theo Walcott is set to play for the club’s Under-21s on Friday after nine months out with a knee injury, while captain Mikel Arteta could feature against Hull after a calf problem. Midfielder Aaron Ramsey is expected back for next week’s Champions League tie away to Anderlecht in Brussels. Wenger is likely to deploy Spain international Nacho Monreal at centre-back against Hull, as England’s Calum Chambers serves a suspension for collecting five yellow cards. Press Association Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger insists Mesut Ozil’s knee problem is just the latest in a long line of “coincidental injuries” rather than down to any failing in the club’s medical support. Ozil faces around two months of rehabilitation after scans on international duty with Germany discovered a “partial rupture of the outer band of the left knee joint” which he had suffered during Arsenal’s Barclays Premier League defeat at Chelsea. Wenger moved to allay suggestions he went against the advice of both the player and Arsenal’s own medical staff by sending Ozil out for the second half at Stamford Bridge on October 5, as his side looked to get back into a match they would go on to lose 2-0.
“At some parts, it definitely has (helped),” he said of Chandler’s influence. “Just a veteran leader, a big with the same skillset, so it definitely opened my mind, opened my eyes to certain things I probably wouldn’t see just because he has a lot more years and experience.”This week offers a perfect litmus test with back-to-back games against the Spurs: The Lakers have struggled against more versatile bigs who can stretch the floor this year, and LaMarcus Aldridge has averaged 26 points on 52 percent shooting in two earlier meetings.Time to see if the defensive growth the Lakers have logged lately is for real. So far, it’s looked the part. Walton said Kuzma naturally embraces the assignment of a tough scorer and seems to respond better when that threat is a perimeter player.“He likes those challenges and he has a nice, natural ability to be able to fight around and over those screens, get back in front of his guy, contest those shots,” he said. “That combined with the fact that he likes that challenge is a big part of why he’s had success.”Kuzma talked about the relentlessness he saw when studying tape of Scottie Pippen and Kobe Bryant this summer and has tried to emulate not just the style, but the energy. He noted then how important it was to stay active even when he wasn’t defending the ball, to be mindful when an opponent is trying to get open to get a pass and a shot. A recent video by analyst Pete Zayas highlighted how Kuzma did this well against Bogdanovic when the Lakers topped the Pacers on Thursday.After generating a rookie reputation as a scorer and not much else, Kuzma is relishing changing his reputation.“I think the narrative is that I just don’t play defense, but if you watched as the season really progressed, I’ve been getting better and better every single game, making the effort,” he said. “I just want to be a complete player, and all great players do it on both ends.”3. Consistency at center has helped: It’s been written plenty that adding Tyson Chandler was a fundamental adjustment to the Lakers’ early season defensive slump. There’s no question that the Lakers are better defensively with Chandler on the court. But there’s some ripple effect to his addition that might not be immediately obvious.First of all, the Lakers don’t have to switch defensive schemes. They occasionally go to small-ball lineups when their centers are in foul trouble or when they feel they need to go on a scoring rally to cut into a lead. But the most-used lineup this season without JaVale McGee or Chandler gives up more than 118 points per 100 possessions, which is abysmal. The Lakers are at their best when a 7-footer is hanging back to contest shots at the rim.McGee has done this flamboyantly, averaging 2.7 blocked shots per game, the second-best mark in the NBA. Chandler accomplishes this with straight verticality, using his length to “build a wall” in front of the rim and force difficult shots. This allows the Lakers to let their guards play more aggressively on the perimeter – McGee and Chandler are capable of cleaning up when drivers get to the rim. This was clear on Friday, as McGee helped stonewall Doncic’s drives in the paint as the game went on. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with PackersIt should be noted that the Lakers’ strength of schedule for this stretch has been down: They’ve faced only three opponents with winning records. But there have been some clear on-court adjustments, particularly in that stretch, that have led to the Lakers resembling a top-tier NBA defense. Here are three important ones:1. Lonzo Ball is able to do his thing: Watching Lonzo Ball on a defensive possession can, at times, be like watching a squirrel tracking down a loose acorn. There are possessions when he seems to be everywhere, up in someone’s craw, leaping into the air to contest a shot, hopping back to the glass for a defensive rebound. It’s hard to imagine that Ball is actually operating within a defensive scheme.But Walton says the chaos of Ball’s impact on defense is something the Lakers take into account. They often have him pick up full-court pressure, where he is occasionally able to mug unaware ball-handlers and finish a point himself. He’s often standing in passing lanes rather than just hanging on his man, ready to pounce on a pass that’s sailing a little too low. In the past two games alone, Ball has nine steals. “If you’re a teammate, a good teammate, and you look up and see your point guard doing that, and you’re just staying 10 feet off your guy, then you don’t feel good about yourself,” Walton said. “When he picks up like that, I think it activates our group.”This principle also applies to Josh Hart. It’s telling that the Lakers lost a step on defense when Hart was dealing with a strained tendon in his ankle and wasn’t able to fly around as he usually does. Walton calls his style simply “winning plays,” and Hart is quick to loose balls, rebounds and steals. He also is well-built physically, able to bully his way through screens to contest shots. His defense in the first half Sunday against Devin Booker, who hit his first three shots, was a huge factor in turning a 17-point deficit into a 24-point victory. Trail Blazers, Grizzlies advance to NBA play-in game; Suns, Spurs see playoff dreams dashed LOS ANGELES — It took 18 games, more than a month, for the Lakers to get their fans free tacos.For the uninitiated: Staples Center offers a promotion if the Lakers win and hold their opponents under 100 points. If that happens, everyone in the crowd gets the perhaps dubious prize of two free Jack-in-the-Box tacos. The first time it happened this season was Nov. 23 against the Utah Jazz.But lately, the tacos runneth over: The Lakers got a pair of such wins this week against the Pacers and Suns, two teams that have admittedly struggled offensively, but were held in check all the same. The Lakers have held four of their last eight opponents under 100 points in a league that has been constantly fretting this year that rules have shifted far too favorably for offenses.During the last 13 games, the Lakers are the No. 2 team in defensive rating (101.7 points per 100 possessions) and have gone 10-3. For the season, they’re also top-10 in some very telling statistics, including effective field goal percentage (50.7 percent, No. 7) and defensive rating (106.8, No. 8). Lakers practice early hoping to answer all questions Trail Blazers beat Grizzlies in play-in, earn first-round series with the Lakers How athletes protesting the national anthem has evolved over 17 years 2. Kyle Kuzma has been moved out the perimeter: There’s not much talk of Kyle Kuzma playing small-ball center anymore, although it does happen. And frankly, his defense has a lot to do with that.Lately, you have seen him guarding Booker, Luka Doncic, Bojan Bogdanovic – more and more, the Lakers want him to pick up opposing players on the wings rather than have him battle inside against bulkier frames. On the perimeter, Kuzma has match-up advantages of length and strength that allow him to fight through screens and stay on opposing guards. Lakers, Clippers schedules set for first round of NBA playoffs But it also seems that McGee, 30, has been learning from Chandler. There have been more games when he’s tipping out rebounds, which Chandler does frequently. He’s also been better this week at staying at home on opponents, rather than getting drawn out to the perimeter and leaving the rim exposed.Related Articles Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error