Jurrien Timber interview: I've spent Arsenal injury lay-off studying team so feel right at home

Jurrien Timber interview: I've spent Arsenal injury lay-off studying team so feel right at home

The moment Jurrien Timber learned that he had suffered the first major injury of his career, he vowed to turn a negative into a positive.

Forced off just 50 minutes into his Premier League debut for Arsenal in August after injuring the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, the £38.5million defender knew he faced a fight to play again this season.

But Timber has used the time wisely to settle into London life and study the way Arsenal play. He has not missed a home game all season, visits the dressing room before and after matches at Emirates Stadium and is a regular in team meetings at the training ground.

"The thing I was thinking about when I first got injured was just to take the positives out of it and to keep trying to be involved with the team," says Timber. "You have to learn while watching. The thing is it's a long injury, between seven and nine months, but it's also coming closer every week.

"At some point you need to dig into the way we play and be ready for when I am back. I am involved in meetings, but also a lot of it is about communication. I keep talking to the players, the coaches and I have lunch with them."

Timber is yet to train outside and does not know when he will be back, but clearly the hard work is paying off. The 22-year-old is gaining a greater understanding of how his team-mates play with every passing week.

Jurrien Timber at the recent 2-1 win over Wolves (Arsenal FC via Getty Images)
Jurrien Timber at the recent 2-1 win over Wolves (Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

Before last Saturday's 2-1 win over Wolves, he was caught on camera predicting Bukayo Saka would open the scoring by cutting in from the right and finding the bottom corner.

"It was nice, huh?" says Timber, grinning at his spot-on prediction.

It would be easy for Timber to be down after his start at Arsenal, but instead the Dutchman is a ray of positivity. He has immersed himself in the local community and spends his Sunday mornings going to church.

On Thursday afternoon he gave up his time to work in the community, joining the Arsenal Bowls Programme, chatting to local students and taking part in a coaching session for Down's Syndrome team North London United.

For Timber, it was a chance to give back and appreciate the impact Arsenal have in the community with their initiatives throughout the year.

They were texting me when they heard, the support was immense [and] that helped me be positive immediately

Jurrien Timber on Arsenal squad reaction

Even on Christmas Day, the doors of the Arsenal Hub at Emirates Stadium will open to offer lunch to young adults who have left foster homes. "It's a small thing for us to come here and be part of this as well," says Timber. "All the small parts are a big part for me to feel at home.

"I have the time now to go to church on Sundays. Normally you don't, because of the game. This is the thing, you need to take the positive things out of it (being injured). I have time to settle in now because I have no games.

"I train a lot, I train hard, but around that I have the time to settle into London. That is something positive, so I feel at home in London as well."

Timber has those around him to thank for his positive outlook. The first few days after his injury were "painful" and he felt "like a baby", but his girlfriend pulled him through. His team-mates were vital, too, from the moment he learned of his injury.

"I remember [Oleksandr] Zinchenko and Mo [Elneny] were at the training ground, everyone was off [that day] and the doctor left me alone for a bit, and they came into my room," says Timber.

Jurrien Timber with the Arsenal Bowls Programme (Arsenal FC)
Jurrien Timber with the Arsenal Bowls Programme (Arsenal FC)

"They were just talking and encouraging me, saying so many positive things. A lot of guys were texting me, because everyone was off, no one was at the club, but they heard what happened and were texting me.

"They asked if I was okay and the support was immense, also from home with my girlfriend and my family. That helped me a lot to be positive from the beginning immediately."

Timber has also felt support from Mikel Arteta and is relishing the time when he will be coached by him.

Fellow summer signing Declan Rice has said he now sees football "in a completely different way" under Arteta — and Timber is the same.

"I remember talking about it with him when we started," he says. "[Arteta] is a great trainer. From when I was there the first day, he started to teach me things and explain things to me quick. We were inspired by the way he looks at football."