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Untold Injury Index – Gameweek 33

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Untold Injury Index – Gameweek 33

By Dale Higginbottom

It’s a bit of a jumbled round-up this week. With just three of our usual teams playing last weekend it makes more sense to include the midweek games and do something of a bumper round-up. So, from the last report we came into these fixtures after a run of injury-hit games so the hope was that injuries might reduce and results pick up as there is just the league to play for. Well we know that results haven’t yet improved but what of the injuries?

Arsenal Vs Liverpool

Arsenal (6 injuries)

  • Goalkeeper – Fabianski (11), Almunia (19)
  • Defence – Vermaelen (29), Sagna (3)
  • Midfield – Denilson (8), Rosicky (2)
  • Attack – No injuries reported

Additional issues: Szczesny and Djourou returned to the starting eleven and played the whole game. Song also returned to the squad and came on as a second-half substitute.

Liverpool (4 injuries)

  • Goalkeeper, attack – No injuries reported
  • Defence – Kelly (5), Agger (16), Johnson (6)
  • Midfield – Gerrard (8)

Additional issues: Kyrgiakos returned from injury and was a second half substitute. Aurelio, Carragher and Carroll all picked up injuries and had to be replaced after 21, 62 and 70 minutes respectively.

Tottenham Vs Arsenal

Tottenham (5 injuries)

  • Goalkeeper, attack – No injuries reported.
  • Defence – King (26), Woodgate (6), Hutton (2)
  • Midfield – Palacios (5), Kranjcar (4)

Additional issues: Pienaar was a doubt but made the bench and was an unused substitute. Bale picked up an injury in the first half and was replaced at the start of the second.

Arsenal (2 injuries)

  • Goalkeeper – Fabianski (12)
  • Defence – Vermaelen (30)
  • Midfield, attack – No injuries reported

Additional issues: Diaby was replaced after 52 minutes after picking up an injury. Almunia, Rosicky and Denilson were all declared fit but did not feature in the squad.

Newcastle Vs Man Utd

Man Utd (6 injuries)

  • Goalkeeper – Lindegaard (4)
  • Defence – Rafael (6), Ferdinand (14)
  • Midfield – Hargreaves (32), Fletcher (4)
  • Attack – Berbatov (2)

Additional issues: No additional issues reported.

West Brom Vs Chelsea

Chelsea (2 injuries)

  • Goalkeeper, attack – No injuries reported
  • Defence –Alex (20)
  • Midfield – Ramires (3)

Additional issues: Ivanovich picked up a slight injury and was replaced after 63 minutes.

Chelsea Vs Birmingham

Chelsea (2 injuries)

  • Goalkeeper, attack – No injuries reported
  • Defence – Alex (21)
  • Midfield – Ramires (4)

Additional issues: Ivanovich was a doubt for this game but made the squad, he was an unused substitute. Cole picked up an injury that forced him off after 56 minutes.

Wow! Down to just two players injured, that’s our best position all season. Our previous best week in terms of injuries was the game against Wigan in December. There we recorded just three injuries in Vermaelen, Almunia and Frimpong and oddly enough that was also a game in which Diaby was forced off mid-game.

Elsewhere the injury levels of other teams seems to show only a little change from previous weeks. United top the list and with Champions League games to consider, they could still drop points or lose more players to injuries. Newcastle’s sterling efforts against United helped to lift some hopes of our title challenge but this now looks difficult after Wednesday’s result.

The draw against Liverpool was difficult to take. The manner of the result and the frustration around the added-time penalty was tough particularly as it had a big psychological impact on our title challenge. The Spurs game was equally as difficult but looking past the result, a great North London derby. The Tiny Totts continue to have defensive injury issues and the draw was not ideal for them in the now two-horse race for fourth position.

Chelsea have, with two 3-1 victories, surprisingly put themselves back in the title race. A couple of weeks ago I thought that they would fall short but now they do have a chance. They are in a similar position to us in that they are reliant on beating United to have any realistic hope but given that the injury levels are quite kind to them at present and they also only have league fixtures to focus on, you couldn’t completely rule them out.

Arsene has come out and said that they are still fighting for the title, as they should do, but I wonder if our fifth draw in six games is too much to come back from. The hope is still there and a lot of the signs are positive in that it is still mathematically possible, there are few injuries and United have still to come to the Emirates and play Chelsea but given the current form, even the most optimistic fan would probably think this one’s just a little out of our reach.

It would take a mammoth effort from the players and probably would need them to win five out of five by comfortable margins to improve the goal difference but stranger things have happened in football and you wouldn’t bet against another upset or two in the coming weeks. We’re still unbeaten in the league since December (16 games) and it would be a fantastic if this could continue for the rest of this season, beating United in the process.

Untold Arsenal Index

History of Arsenal including the series on the failures of Herbert Chapman

Making the Arsenal – the book of Arsenal death and rebirth

20 comments to Untold Injury Index – Gameweek 33

  • walter

    Thanks for another write up Dale.

    And sorry to go off topic with the first comment.
    They are writing us off completely. Mostly this is the moment that we start performing again. Let’s just start to try and win each game and see where we will end up.
    Just imagine if we win our 5 and Chelsea win their five and Utd wins the 3 remaining games (defeat against us and Chelsea) we could end up with 3 teams with the same number of points…

  • Dark Prince

    Walter- at the moment ifs wont work. We have to concentrate on every game. Also goal difference might become crucial and at the moment, our goal difference is quite behind our rivals.

  • jayj

    I see Diaby’s back to his old tricks.

  • dr kox

    Just a quick question. I totally respect AW for sticking to his guns and not changing his philosophy, as wrong as it appears to be now. And I respect everything he has done for us. As The Great Bob Wilson said we won’t really know what he has done for our Great Club until he leaves. However I have a question and it is this. When was the last time AW pulled off a tactical masterstroke when it was needed. I can remember Barca at Emirates this season but apart from that I cannot remember another time when his changes actually won us a game? Really I can’t. And I can’t for the life of me understand the reasoning to take off our fastest most direct player (Theo) and replace him with a carthorse who’s only redeeming feature is heading a ball and then proceed to play the carthorse as a Right winger? It simply doesn’t make sense. If my nan had b**** she’d be my grandad and there is more chance of that happening than Bentdner becoming a right winger. When things are difficult why doesn’t he switch to 442 with Theo playing up top and Robin playing ‘in the hole’. Or if its a more direct route needed play MC or even NB up top. Honestly I cannot understand AW’s logic when it comes to subs.

  • gooner80

    @Dr Kox

    didnt you see how badly Theo was tiring, sometimes you have no choice, theo starts going missing

    it is also true to say there has been big periods where there isnt no decent option on the bench so how can bAW make a tactical change if the change needed is not available

    I make you right on the 4-4-2 and I think AW should go back to the formula that won him trophies

  • Shard

    We’ve been playing variants of the 4-3-3 for two seasons now. I agree with people when they say that sometimes we should go 4-4-2, but this late in the season, perhaps it would be difficult for the team to get used to a new system? Yeah I know that they are professionals, that’s their job etc. I’m sure they can do it, but training for that will mean sacrificing some other aspects of the game, and ultimately, it is not the system that is the main cause of us not winning games. I’d rather the team address other more important weaknesses in our game, than try and get used to a new system.

  • gooner80

    @shard

    I know what you mean but my mouth waters when I think of the possibility of say, Nasri, RVP, cesc, all playing off the striker, Back on topic I think different formqations might hel;p with injuries because the 4=3==3 doesnt work tooo well with replacements coming into the system, and IMO 4-4-2 would allow players to fill in easier,

    who could deny the similarities with

    theo/ Henry
    RVP/ bergkamp
    Nasri/ Pires
    clichy/ cole
    sagna/ lauren

    arguable
    diaby/ viera

  • Shard

    @gooner80

    Awww man.. Don’t fill my head with images of the Invincibles. I’ll start reminiscing rather than doing anything else 🙂

    I don’t really agree about the similarities. But I do agree that playing 4-4-2 might be worth trying. I was only trying to provide an explanation as to why Wenger doesn’t play it right now. Personally, I think it might help, but it is certainly not the main problem.

  • gooner80

    I think we have the quality now it is just the execution. I can see Theo being our star man the boy is a game changer, he has clearly been working hard, he wants to be a striker and with sagna overlapping far too often theo is wasted on the wings

    @shard
    so what would you say is our main problem ( apart from injuries)

  • Shard

    @gooner80

    Now THAT is a million dollar question. I don’t think there’s any one clear answer. As you say, we aren’t executing our game very well. As of now, all opponents need to do to stop us scoring is set a deep line with 2 banks of 4, and we struggle to break them down. Also, defensively, all it takes is long balls or crosses to unhinge us. Our midfield dominates possession normally, so they just by pass it and go straight to our defense.

    Defensively, I think we need better coaching or at the least better communication between players. It is not a question of ability. Individually our defenders are good. Collectively they are lesser than the sum of the parts. Our fullbacks also need to know when to foray forward and when not to. As I said, I think it’s a matter of coaching. Bould maybe?

    In terms of offense, I think what we miss is someone who can create space to shoot from midfield. Nasri can do that but he’s stuck out wide because Cesc plays that role. I would put Cesc and Song deeper. Nasri in the hole, and either Arshavin or Wilshere out left. Wilshere will probably cross better and at least will run at people. Cesc/Nasri/Wilshere can also switch with each other time and again.

  • gooner80

    @Shard

    as you say opponents Bypass our midfield so our 5 in there count for nothing, we dominate that area. apart from injuries and most notably TV5 being out all season the only thing I can put my finger on is formation, one lone striker against a team who parks the bus is not working, teams are quite happy for us to cross the ball in all day because it is bread and butter for their defenders as teams with less ability are always well organised otherwise they wouldnt be in the Prem very long.

    It is a hard decision but someone needs to be left out of midfield

    IMO RVP is in the top 5 world strikers, he is as good as messi and ronaldo but stuck upfront by himself he has to work with scraps.

    I dont know if the injury situation will ever lessen, but injuries cant be blamed for our impotent attack on some occasions, arsenal are renowned for attacking but RVP is clearly isolated

    as you mention there is some problems at the back but we have done match better this season defensively apart from the very costly errors, JD has been sensational him and TV5 maybe the new campbell and toure. It sounds harsh but im not convinced by clichy he is a great athlete but I would rather 3 at the back and clichy playing as a wing back then him have too much defensive duties because as you will see against man u they will exploit the gaps he leaves.

    Im sure Le Boss will lose a few hairs pondering where improvements need to be made, I remember Wenger saying his team used to practice playing 10 men they were the masters of it, they need to practice playing against a bus, teams these days realise how much money is at stake if they go down and they will park buses if they have to, one point against arsenal is better than zero points, the likes of man u,fat sam and stoke have written the manual on how to play against arsenal, I would like to see how their two CB’s would fair if it was two against two with cesc coming from deep or nasri, Ljunberg timed his runs like what lampard does now, it doesnt take a genius to work out arsenal play too much in front of teams but when arsenal get in behind with our pace no one is more lethal, we have some really fast players but they are wasted playing slow build up, we devastated Barca by playing differently in both games, and if it wasnt for cheating we would be facing Real madrid

  • Shard

    @gooner80

    Fair points. Why I’m reluctant to change to 4-4-2 is also because I think without Song in a holding role, our defence will struggle to deal with the long balls and the knock downs even more. We were scoring in the early part of the season easily enough. I just think we need to perform better, rather than making big tactical changes. As I said, I can see how 4-4-2 would help and I’m not against it. I’m not convinced that it would help us play better overall.

    But maybe it is time to go for broke? Just attack, and score more than the opposition? Or maybe we should play Bendtner or Chamakh from the start.. If we don’t score against a defensive team in say 20 mins, we go to a 4-4-2, and revert back to a 4-3-3 once we do manage to score. Halfway house I guess, but if goals don’t come, we should have the option to change without substitutions too. Because otherwise we wait for 60 mins to change something.

  • Cosmojon

    IMO Arsene has become a bit lazy when it comes to tactics. He’s never been known as one of the best managers tactically. But since we switched to 4-3-3/4-5-1 there doesn’t seem to be any variation. We always plat one way(beautiful when it works though 🙂 ) regardless of the opposition whereas other teams/managers will adjust their formation/tactics to suit the opponent they face.

  • Wrenny

    Some interesting points. For what it’s worth, here are some of my thoughts.

    Regarding the formation, the 4-2-3-1 shape is how we line up without the ball but I think that on the ball we already play a sort of 4-4-2 as Nasri and Walcott have such different roles in possession. Nasri spends a more time looking for the ball in deeper areas while Theo is pushing up much higher looking to get behind defences. If RVP comes deep then Walcott takes up the CF position quick-sharp. When we break Theo is the primary outlet. To my mind Walcott is playing as a forward, whereas Nasri is primarily a midfielder.

    And funnily enough, back when Arshavin was a starter and Nasri was on the right was the time when Nasri scored so many of his goals, as he was filling that more advanced role that Walcott is now playing. Since moving to the left side Nasri’s goals have dried up as his duties have changed.

    I say all this because that common misconception that Theo is “being wasted on the wing”, Wenger’s got to put him down the middle, blah blah blah, is frustrating to hear. I think Walcott is in the perfect position for him, that of a wide striker type. David Villa is deployed in a similar way and nobody would dream of labeling him as a winger.

    About a Plan B, Barca were said to be needing a Plan B themselves. But they’ve just kept on working on their game, the passing, the movement, refining their Plan A until it’s so good that a Plan B is hardly required. I think that’s Wenger’s principal aim, to work and develop our passing game until it’s so deadly that nobody can cope with it. That’s how the Invincibles played, I remember one run of games where we were going 2-0 and 3-0 up in games after just 30 minutes. We weren’t just beating teams, we were crushing them. Games were over as a contest before half-time. Wenger wants this Arsenal side to be like that once again, and I fully support that vision and level of ambition he has for us.

    Where I think we need to improve, and that’s not as a plan B but throughout games, is on how to exploit the wings. I believe that’s down to getting the full-backs involved more, and working on how to do that without leaving us exposed on the counter. Which means working with Song and Wilshere on how to cover for their full backs, when to sit and when to go forward, etc. The likes of Clichy and Gibbs can be potent attacking weapons and I think we could utilise them much better, but it’s not as simple as just telling them to get forward more. It needs the whole team to work and understand how to manufacture those opportunities for them.

    Anyway it’s very late, if I think of more things to say I might drop them in tomorrow!

  • DC

    If I may say, and I have said this elsewhere, AW’s weakness is his tactical knowhow. He errs on the side of caution in the big matches and I think this filters through to the players and they perform accordingly. The two matches that spring to mind (easily) are the finals against Galatasaray and Birmingham, but can be replicated across many seasons. I would rather we had stepped out there and played our swashbuckling kind of football, but it never quite happened.

    If AW was as tactically astute as George Graham it would be a different story. Although George also had his weaknesses!

  • gooner80

    @Wrenny

    as usual you make excellent points but the shape I see is not 4-4-2 it is just theo is so fast he makes it look like that, from want I understand a lot of the time Henry was wide left but Theo doesnt IMO appear to play the same role as Henry, Henry was often the furthest forward theo is much more a winger, he is crossing the ball into someone, Henry was the furthest man forward so often he was cutting in to have a shot at goal, so what I am saying is RVP needs to play deeper and Theo further forward if yo get what I am saying.

    Theo is becoming so sharp he would be like a £50 million striker

  • Mauritian_Magician

    And Ramsey???

  • jayj

    Theo hey??? Am I missing something, when has Theo had a full season without injury? Yeap he hasn’t so stop all this crap except we’re CRAP!

  • jayj

    So every season when a player comes back from an injury its like a new signing but only until we make some new signings will the mood change. The only time Arsenal are on top of the league is the first day of the season – FACT.

  • jayj

    tip tap tip tap tip tap never mind shooting we’ll roll the ball in, thats difference between a team who wants to achieve something and a team who plays around the box too scared they may score. This arsenal team will be remembered for being bottlers and tomorrows draw with Bolton will leave the Manu game all but redundant. Remember I told you first just as everyone else has seen the end, also Cesc will leave not because of lack of commitment but Wengers inability to win anything.