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Untold Injury Index

Untold Injury Index – Gameweek 31

By Dale Higginbottom

Gameweek 31 and results have been tough to come by of late and three draws in succession is not the ideal form for a title-chasing team. There are many factors that can explain some of the results including poor referees, fatigue and international breaks. Let’s look at our weekly round-up of injuries and see if they could’ve been a factor.

Arsenal Vs Blackburn

Arsenal (8 injuries)

  • Goalkeeper – Fabianski (9), Szczesny (2)
  • Defence – Vermaelen (27), Djourou (3), Gibbs (10)
  • Midfield – Frimpong (29), Ramsey (15), Denilson (6)
  • Attack – No injuries reported

Additional issues: Walcott and Song returned to the squad after injury and started.  Diaby and Fabregas were also doubts and started on the bench. Van Persie and Bendtner were both in the squad after slight doubts, van Persie playing the whole game and Bendtner coming on in the second half.

Wigan Vs Tottenham

Tottenham (6 injuries)

  • Goalkeeper, attack – No injuries reported.
  • Defence – King (24), Kaboul (12), Woodgate (4), Gallas (7)
  • Midfield – Palacios (3), Bale (5)

Additional issues: Huddlestone returned to the squad but did not play. Pienaar was a doubt but was on the bench, he also did not play.

West Brom Vs Liverpool

Liverpool (4 injuries)

  • Goalkeeper – No injuries reported
  • Defence – Kelly (3), Aurelio (10)
  • Midfield – Gerrard (7)
  • Attack – Shelvey (5)

Additional issues: Agger and Johnson were both replaced early in the game after picking up injuries. Suarez was a doubt but started and played the whole game.

West Ham Vs Man Utd

Man Utd (8 injuries)

  • Goalkeeper – Van der Sar (1), Lindegaard (2)
  • Defence – Ferdinand (13), Brown (1), O’Shea (7), Rafael (4)
  • Midfield – Hargreaves (30), Fletcher (2)
  • Attack – No injuries reported.

Additional issues: Anderson was doubtful for the game and started on the bench but did not feature on the pitch. Park was also a slight doubt but started the game, coming off after 64 minutes.

Stoke Vs Chelsea

Chelsea (2 injuries)

  • Goalkeeper, attack – No injuries reported
  • Defence – Alex (19)
  • Midfield – Benayoun (25)

Additional issues: Despite featuring for Israel in mid-week Benayoun is not considered fully fit to feature in the Chelsea squad. Kalou was a doubt and started on the bench.

Man City Vs Sunderland

Man City (3 injuries)

  • Goalkeeper – Given (4)
  • Defence – Boateng (7), Richards (8)
  • Midfield, attack – No injuries reported.

Additional issues: Tevez and Yaya Toure were both doubts for the game but both started and played the full 90 minutes.

So what’s the situation this week? Well we’re still up at the top, still suffering a high number of injuries but United have caught up and matched us with 8 players unavailable. The rest all hover around the 2 – 4 mark with the Totts still suffering due to their inability to buy a defensive player that stays fit.

Eight injuries is about as much as any squad would want to have to deal with and for us obviously it’s a few too many. Whilst the missing personnel are not necessarily all key players, the fact that players have just returned and lack match sharpness is surely a key factor. In these games where we lack cohesion, it often needs a stroke of luck or a moment of individual skill to lift the team and drive home the result. Sadly on Saturday, this didn’t come.

United’s troubles are at the back. Two goalkeepers, four defenders and two holding midfielders all out injured and on top of that they have Evans suspended. It therefore needed an in-form Rooney to save them but hopefully for us , this cannot happen every game, particularly now that he’s likely to be suspended for two games for his potty-mouth.

City’s impressive win against Sunderland and the Tiny Totts’ draw at Wigan looks to have swung the final Champions League place in favour of the Manchester team. It would take a massive effort for the Totts to overhaul either City or Chelsea so I think their only hope of Champions League football next season is to win it this season, Ha!

Despite again only a handful of injuries, Chelsea’s rusty squad had their thoughts on Wednesday’s Champions League game so could only manage a 1-1 draw at Stoke. We’ve said here all along that they don’t hav a squad to fight on all four fronts and whilst injuries have been kind, fatigue must be catching up with their aging squad a bit. They could still win the Champions League but after Saturday’s draw, it’s all they can play for. United may drop enough points for us to catch them, they won’t drop enough for Chelsea to overtake too.

I don’t think I really need to mention Liverpool any more, minimal injuries, team not good enough. They were dealt a tough card with the two defenders picking up injuries during the game but let’s hope they can put in a performance against us like that.

Since the Carling Cup final Arsenal have had three draws in three league games, not the best run of results considering the opposition but considering the injuries it’s not all that bad. The injury numbers for us for those weeks have been 7, 9 and 8 respectively and to have that many players missing is always going to be difficult to manage.

I thought I’d look back at our other games in which we had 7 or more players out and there was a spell between gameweek 5 and gameweek 11 where we had this problem, shall we look at those games?

GW5 GW6 GW7 GW8 GW9 GW10 GW11
Sunderland (A) West Brom (H) Chelsea (A) Birmingham (H) Man City (A) West Ham (H) Newcastle (H)
1-1 2-3 2-0 2-1 0-3 1-0 0-1
D L L W W W L
7 8 9 8 6 7 7

So, as you can see, when you look at these results and add the recent run of three draws it seems that 7 is maybe something of a tipping point. In each of the games in this early run we either dropped points or were not in the slightest bit as dominant as we have shown in other games. In the middle of this run you can see the inclusion of the Man City game, a game that was a great performance and a game we dominated but note the number of injuries was back down to 6 for that week. I’m not sure why seven seems to be such a key number but I plan to delve deeper into this once we have a data set for the full season.

Obviously we have lost or drawn games with fewer than 7 recorded injuries but it seems odd that results or performances are so poor once we hit this threshold of 7. Our average for the season so far is 5.97 players missing per game (so effectively 6 with one of Vermaelen’s toes fit to play), but when we get just one more player out than the average, it seems to become a struggle.

It’s probably correct to think that the specifics of the players unavailable will have an impact, as seven injuries to players such as Frimpong or Gibbs would impact less on the team than seven injuries to players at the level of Fabregas or van Persie, however when we get 7, 8 or 9 players out, it’s quite likely that at least 2 or 3 of them are 1st choice players and therefore the available team is maybe a significant amount weaker than when we have 4 or 5 players missing.

So are we going to remain at a level above 7 for the rest of the season? I hope not but I also doubt it. There were a number of players returning from injuries this week including Walcott, Song, Fabregas and Diaby. Over the next week or so they’ll return to match fitness and as the recovery time is now a week between most games the numbers should hopefully reduce to a more manageable level. Fabianski and Vermaelen are the only two players who are currently expected not to feature for the rest of the season so we can hope that the remaining 6 on this week’s list will gradually return and be available for selection within the next two months.

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16 comments to Untold Injury Index

  • Wrenny

    Interesting numbers, I’ll look forward to seeing that analysis at the end of the season!

    Looking at those numbers, as it stands our league record for games with 7 or more injuries is: Played 9, Won 2, Drawn 4, Lost 3.

    Hopefully the current situation will get better soon. Denilson and Ramsey should be back for the next game, Frimpong will play his first game for the Reserves tonight, and Szczesny’s splint has come off his finger.

  • The don

    Forget this injury index and talk about the real problems we have at Arsenal. You cannot trust Wenger anymore, he lies too much. Just before the January window he said Verminator will be back in 3 weeks. When the window slammed shut he said he knew he was out for the full season. He tries to fool Arsenal fans into believing he means well for our chances of winning a trophy, but takes the micky because he believes we are too stupid and too powerless to change anything. He says he hates the Jan window because he knows people who are cleverer than him will call his bluff when he tries to dodge from buying players. Wenger is no longer a football manager but an economist running a business for the shareholders. This is unfortunate because he will actually make a very good football manager – as he has proved this in the past pre 2004. Unfortunately again Arsenal fans are so naive becasue they have failed to understand the club’s objectives which Wenger is following to a tee and doing well in it.

    We need to get back to football and that I am afraid means kicking out the board and Wenger who tells the board to stick to his youth policy if they want to improve their shares.

  • Ian Trevett

    Just for one night, it is time to reprise an old favourite.
    All together now
    Adebayor
    Adebayor
    Give Him the ball
    And he will Score

  • Ian Trevett

    Of course, Harry has done miracles at Tottenham.

  • Ian Trevett

    And Bale is the player of the year.

  • jayj

    Bale one hit wonder!

  • jayj

    Even the sun shines on a dogs arse some dayz, hey bale!

  • jayj

    Adebayor still hates the spurs – hahahahaha

  • Gooner4eva49

    He’s 5ft four
    He’s 5ft four!
    We’ve got arshavin,
    Fuck adebayor!

  • walter

    Very interesting stats Dale.
    Maybe it could be that when we have 7 players out the others are under more pressure and get not the rest they should get?

  • walter

    And off topic: Adebayor, is he really a gooner? LOL 🙂

  • Archimedes

    High injury number means u likely playing 3rd choice players, players out of position, ad hoc formation, etc. Is 7 the magic number for other teams too? After all Man U won last weekend suggesting better squad quality.

  • Archimedes

    So which Arsenal player have the worst unavailability record since arriving/selected to 1st team? The season long injury players will top the list, but reoccurence after first major injury spell and subsequent performance drop a worry too. Sell the crocks because they are double liability. Also the 25 cap and EPL refs allowing excessive force puts teams at permanent disadvantage v Europe.

  • Wrenny

    It would be a travesty for Bale to win player of the year, he might be an exciting player to watch but his stats do not make great reading. He has a long way to go yet, but no doubt the media love for all things Spuds right now will push Bale as being the most worthy winner…

  • WalterBroeckx

    The Don,
    When the transfer window was shut Vermaelen himself said he would be back in a few weeks. Even his parents said this to me. Wenger only said that he knew Vermaelen was out at the start of march when he had other issues keeping him out.
    The doctors who did the operation said he would need 4 to 6 weeks and this was half january. Stop twisting his words please.

    And you are talking rubbish about not wanting to win anything and the running like a bussines. Because the more Arsenal would win trophies the higher the value of Arsenal (and the shares) will become. So the shareholders should benefit from Arsenal winning things.

    But the difference is that those shareholders look at the long term and not at “I want to win today” like some fans do and I think you are one of them.

  • The don

    Your comment managed to get through because I was meeting a lady at the time it arrived, and I got sidetracked, but it really shouldn’t be here.

    However since you got away with it, let’s consider your point: Forget this injury index and talk about the real problems we have at Arsenal.

    Why should we? There are 2 million blogs out there that talk about what you call “the real problems”, so why should we bother to replicate them on a site called “Untold” which (as I have said a million times before) means we cover things other sites don’t cover.

    Which bit of “Untold Arsenal” do you not get?