Tottenham and Manchester City face playing on nightmare pitch after three NFL games in a fortnight leave Wembley surface in shocking state
- Jacksonville Jaguars faced Philadelphia Eagles at Wembley 24 hours before Premier League game on Monday
- It was third NFL clash at national stadium in the space of 15 days and the surface has been torn up as a result
- Images show the patches of grass and uneven divots for Manchester City and Tottenham to cope with
- Kevin de Bruyne has voiced concerns over whether his side will be able to play their usual slick football
- One NFL player warned: ‘It might be challenging, definitely right after a game, with us guys tearing it up’
After hosting three NFL games in a fortnight, the Wembley turf has been ravaged ahead of Tottenham’s huge clash with Manchester City.
Grounds staff have a mammoth task on their hands to nurse the iconic surface to a playable state with only 24 hours between the Jacksonville Jaguars’ defeat by the Philadelphia Eagles and Monday night’s Premier League showdown.
The average weight of an NFL player is 17.6 stone. These behemoth’s wearing cleats designed to dig into the turf have cut up the pitch and the top layer of green has been worn away down to an ugly brown.
The game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and Philadelphia Eagles served to worsen the condition of Wembley
The gridiron practitioners cut up the surface and there are patches of loose turf to be cleared up before Monday night
The formerly velvety green surface has been worn away to a patchy brown colour, particularly down the centre
Down the centre of the field, where the line of scrimmage sets down on every play, the damage is at it’s worst.
Offensive linemen require the ability to steady themselves and grip the ground to protect their quarterback and the constant twisting, turning and hammering of the field has parts of it looking like a day five Test cricket surface on the subcontinent.
Mooen Ali would be licking his lips at the prospect of bowling into some of the dry areas and footmarks. Pep Guardiola and Mauricio Pochettino’s slick footballing sides won’t be quite as enamoured.
Staff at the national stadium will be working around the clock to not only attempt to revitalise the turf, but also remove the extensive yard markings and huge NFL logo emblazoned where the centre circle will be on Monday evening.
A close-up image of the pitch shows clumps of grass and churned up soil following the third NFL game in a fortnight
Ground staff set to work on nursing the surface back to health and face a race against time to get it in fit condition
The brown faded line down the middle of the pitch is clearly visible from the stands of England’s national stadium
A close inspection shows loose grass and dirt laying on top with distinctive stud marks littering where the pristine green carpet used to be.
The work to repair the damage started almost as soon as the Jaguars’ game against the Eagles on Sunday reached a 24-18 conclusion in favour of last season’s Superbowl champions.
Wide brushes being dragged behind groundsmen were the first instrument called upon to sweep the more hefty clumps of loose debris off the ground.
No doubt there will be an array of tools used to revive the pitch but it remains to be seen how much of the damage is simply irreparable in 24 hours.
The operation to salvage the Wembley pitch before tomorrow night’s game is underway. pic.twitter.com/MvOlFmWuHd
The surface has become hugely uneven and there are some areas with monstrous divots that need replacing
Certain parts of the pitch have not got any grass left on the surface and are just a barren mess of stud marks
Delays to the construction of Tottenham’s new stadium mean that Spurs won’t entertain fans in their new home until 2019.
Given the unforeseen extended tenancy at Wembley, they have been forced to slot in around the packed NFL schedule and as a result, have to deal with the lumpy ground to play on.
Jacksonville Jaguars duo Josh Lambo and DJ Chark warned City and Spurs players of what to expect. ‘It might be challenging, definitely right after a game, with us guys tearing it up. It’ll probably be difficult,’ said Chark.
Lambo added: ‘It’ll be difficult for Pep Guardiola’s side to play their style of football (after we’ve played on the pitch), the way that they want to play.’
Kevin de Bruyne raised concerns about the conditions and the way a slow, uneven surface could hamper his side’s football.
‘It’s going to be difficult. I’m not sure how it’s going to be. We hope it will be OK and we can play like we normally do. These games are the most important ones. A big game. We have to go and show our intent to stay on top,’ he said.
The average weight of an NFL player is 17 stone and they wreaked havoc on the turf with their chunky cleats
But Guardiola is keen to ensure the Premier League champions have no excuses and insisted the worn-down Wembley is not a concern.
He allayed fears that the pitch might lead to injuries, ‘We have full focus on what we have to do to avoid injuries. When you take care properly and focus, knowing that the pitch may not be in the best question, you have to be ready.
‘It is what it is. I’m pretty sure Tottenham have a good greenkeeper. There’s no point complaining, we have to adapt.’
Time will tell whether the nips and tucks of Wembley’s 24 hour face-lift will render the game a slug-fest or not.
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