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Thursday Cannon Fodder: game day routines

Arsenal Training and Press Conference Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

My mind was wandering last night (as it is wont to do), and it settled on “I wonder what Arsenal players’ gameday routines / habits / superstitions are.” It occurred to me that I’d read articles about U.S.-based athletes and what they do before games, but I couldn’t remember seeing the same type of thing about Arsenal or footballers.

For instance, I know that Alexander Ovechkin, before every game, would eat a chicken parmigiana from Mamma Lucia, a local Italian chain. I know that some guys listen to the same songs in the same order in the locker room. Some guys have to leave the locker room in the same position (i.e. first or last).

I know some of that is tied into superstition, which we’ve discussed before in CF, but I generally associate superstition with things that very clearly do not actually influence on-field performance. Routines can actually have an effect. Songs get players hyped. The right pre-game meal gives fuel. Et cetera.

Some Arsenal player routines that I’m definitely sure are Very Real and Super Serious:

  • Kieran Tierney: ensure he’s wearing entirely weather-inappropriate clothes, preferably brought to the stadium in his Tesco bag
  • Granit Xhaka: eat nuts, bolts, and other assorted small metal items (you know, because he’s tough but slow on the pitch)
  • Willian: put his boots on the wrong feet

To today’s discussion prompt: back when you played sports, what were your routines?