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We never dropped points at home with under 5 injuries. Untold Injury Index – Gameweek 38

Untold Injury Index – Gameweek 38

By Dale Higginbottom

So, here we are, the end of the 2010/2011 season and the end of the weekly round-ups of the crocked players of the top-six Premier League teams. It’s been an up and down season to say the least and we can safely say that injuries have, at some points of the season, had their role in that. As Arsenal fans, we’re used to having injuries impact recent seasons however this season (without giving the final totals away) the impact feels reduced. Whether that is due to a stronger, deeper squad or the fact that we have been lucky with fewer injuries to key players, I’m not sure but I suspect the former.

Anyway, without further ado, here’s the final list of the season.

Fulham Vs Arsenal

Arsenal (5 injuries)

  • Goalkeeper – Fabianski (17)
  • Defence – Clichy (3) Koscielny (4)
  • Midfield – Fabregas (12), Rosicky (4)
  • Attack – No injuries reported

Additional issues: Nasri and Djourou both returned to the squad, playing the whole game. Diaby also returned and played the first 65 minutes.

Man Utd Vs Blackpool

Man Utd (2 injuries)

  • Goalkeeper, attack – No Injuries reported.
  • Defence – O’Shea (9)
  • Midfield – Hargreaves (37)

Additional issues: Lindegaard returned to the united squad on the bench but played no part. Rafael was a doubt before the game but started, he was replaced at half-time.

Everton Vs Chelsea

Chelsea (4 injuries)

  • Goalkeeper, attack – No injuries reported
  • Defence – Bosingwa (14)
  • Midfield – Benayoun (26), Ramires (6)
  • Attack – Drogba (2)

Additional issues: Zhirkov and Bertrand returned to the squad after injury, they were both unused substitutes.

Bolton Vs Man City

Man City (3 injuries)

  • Goalkeeper, attack – No injuries reported
  • Defence – Boateng (14), Richards (13)
  • Midfield – M Johnson (34)

Additional issues: Silva and Zabaleta were doubts but started and played most of the game. Balotelli also returned to the squad but was an unused substitute.

Aston Villa Vs Liverpool

Liverpool (7 injuries)

  • Goalkeeper – No injuries reported
  • Defence – Kelly (10), Agger (21), Johnson (8)
  • Midfield – Gerrard (13), Jovanovic (8), Maxi (1)
  • Attack – Carroll (7)

Additional issues: Aurelio and Meireles returned to the squad and played the whole game. Spearing picked up an injury after just 12 minutes and couldn’t continue.

Tottenham Vs Birmingham

Tottenham (6 injuries)

  • Goalkeeper, attack – No injuries reported
  • Defence – Gallas (9), Woodgate (12), Hutton (8),
  • Midfield – Bale (8), Van der Vaart (7), Pienaar (3)

Additional issues: Gomes, Assou-Ekotto, Corluka, Jenas and Palacios returned to the squad but were unused substitutes. Huddlestone also returned from injury, he started and played most of the game. Rose was a doubt but he started and played the whole game. Crouch was replaced after 39 minutes with a head injury.

So, Liverpool lead the way this week and probably as a result of their injuries over the last two games, missed out on Europa League football. Whether you would class that as a “miss” I’m not entirely sure but that meant that the Tiny Totts were back in the tiny European competition. I expect Liverpool to finish above Spurs next season.

We had a group of key players injured and a draw was not the best result to end the season on but, there’s time for players to reflect, recoup and re-energise and the lack of an International competition will hopefully mean that we’ll start the season with few or maybe no players missing through injury.

Ok, we missed out on third so that’s one place below last season and it’s obviously disappointing but I think some of our performances this season have shown we’re very nearly there. Thankfully we’ll be seeded in the Champions League preliminaries so we should miss the big teams like Bayern Munich but the extra two games will not be welcome early next season.

United rounded off their season with a win against Blackpool, recording just 2 injuries. Chelsea’s season just simply ended at Old Trafford, matching our points tally for the last three games, despite reporting very few injuries. Their new manager will have a job on to get this bunch of aging, overpaid players working as a team again. Could Chelsea drop out of the top-four next season? I wouldn’t be surprised.

Finally City, who put together a good run in the last few games to overtake us for third. It will be interesting to see how they cope with the rigors of Champions League football next season. Their injury levels have been kind to them this season and even with a few big buys in the summer, still might not have a squad deep enough to fight for two big competitions and two domestic cups.

So what of the season as a whole and how did the injury levels hurt our title bid? I want to do a full analysis in the coming weeks but for now, here is a week-by-week roundup of Arsenal’s injuries this season

Gameweek Opponents Number of Injuries Result
1 Liverpool (A) 5 D
2 Blackpool (H) 5 W
3 Blackburn (A) 4 W
4 Bolton (H) 6 W
5 Sunderland (A) 7 D
6 West Brom (H) 8 L
7 Chelsea (A) 9 L
8 Birmingham (H) 8 W
9 Man City (A) 6 W
10 West Ham (H) 7 W
11 Newcastle (H) 7 L
12 Wolves (A) 6 W
13 Everton (A) 6 W
14 Tottenham (H) 5 L
15 Aston Villa (A) 6 W
16 Fulham (H) 5 W
17 Man Utd (A) 5 L
18* Stoke (H) 5 W
19 Chelsea (H) 4 W
20 Wigan (A) 3 D
21 Birmingham (A) 5 W
22 Man City (H) 5 D
23 West Ham (A) 6 W
24 Wigan (H) 6 W
25 Everton (H) 5 W
26 Newcastle (A) 6 D
27 Wolves (H) 5 W
28* Tottenham (A) 2 D
29 Sunderland (H) 7 D
30 West Brom (A) 9 D
31 Blackburn (H) 8 D
32 Blackpool (A) 8 W
33 Liverpool (H) 6 D
34 Bolton (A) 4 L
35 Man Utd (H) 4 W
36 Stoke (A) 5 L
37 Aston Villa (H) 8 L
38 Fulham (A) 5 D
TOTAL 221
* Game played out of sequence due to weather/cup game

What can we say about the above figures? Well a total of 221 does seem quite high. Yes, some of the time we’ve been without fringe players such as Frimpong or non-regulars like Gibbs and Almunia that are reflected in the total but, missing players like this does still impact the squad and affect the manager’s ability to make changes (a weighted total based on player importance is also planned for a future report).

The overall average was 5.8 injuries per game and in most weeks this has included definitely one, but usually at least two, first eleven players.

One interesting thing about the figures is that we never dropped points at home with fewer than five injuries. You can even say we didn’t drop points at home to any team outside the top six unless the injury level was seven or higher. Also, our wins at home against the United and Chelsea both came when we had just four players out. That doesn’t mean to say that we might not have achieved those results with more players out but It could suggest that against the very best teams, you need a bit of luck which we obviously didn’t get when playing Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

Away from home the results have been a bit mixed so I’ve not drawn any key conclusions as yet but maybe we’ll see something when we dig into the impact of key players being unavailable and the magnitude of the defeat. For now I open it up to the comments section, what are your thoughts on the injuries this season?

Half the penalties in Arsenal games were wrongly given this season!

Untold Arsenal and Arsenal History on Twitter @UntoldArsenal

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History of Arsenal: when Fulham stole the Arsenal managers.

Making the Arsenal – the book of Arsenal death and rebirth

15 comments to We never dropped points at home with under 5 injuries. Untold Injury Index – Gameweek 38

  • walter

    Thanks Dale for this immense job. I know what it is like to gather data each week and then see what it means at the end. 😉

    Like you said you will be going deeper in to things but I must say that I was shocked when I realised that we had our best player only available for 22 league games this season. And then add the time to come back to a higher level after each injury… So I think it is fair to say we never have seen the real Cesc this season apart from a few games.

    Thanks for the work and looking forward to more detailed articles about this

  • milinho

    One interesting thing about the figures is that we never dropped points at home with fewer than five injuries

    what is the point of that? its all good and well that that statement may be true but this is a perpetual squad problem, one which has not been addressed and whos fault is that?

    if we just keep looking for excuses to hide our shortcomings, improvements will never happen. granted, we are not far off, but there is a HUGE difference between a good team and champions. champions learn from their mistakes, not seek excuses. champions overcome obstacles, not hide behind them.
    one should never assess statistics with a predetermined goal as you frequently do.

  • hariwool

    @milinho-spot on. We always have injuries not sure what it is but look at United – Ferdinand out for how long? Yet they’re on course for the double – we’re just rubbish at accepting we ain’t good enough and keep living in false hope – the time has come for a change and if the board can’t see it the fans certianly can

  • Dan Green

    If you look at The Guardian they put up a huge article that is laden with Data titled Number-crunching makes grim reading for Arsenal’s…

    Please do not cut and paste from others work without acknowledgement or at least a link.

    “Dan Green’s” comment can be found here in full: http://www.7amkickoff.com/2011/newsroom-statistics-dominate-plus-paddy/comment-page-1/

  • @Dan Green – top comment!

  • Interesting article Dale – thanks for your effort recording/collating these, it is much appreciated.

  • Nick Lee

    Hmmm… hard work but the stats is irrelevant.

    What about the injuries for the opposing teams?

    This is another example of confirmation bias, pro-Arsenal as against the comment by Dan from the Guardian article which is anti-Arsenal bias.

  • Nick

    @ Dan Green – good points, but it would be good to provide and attribution to where they were taken from. The source is the always excellent 7am kickoff for a couple of days ago, at http://www.7amkickoff.com/2011/newsroom-statistics-dominate-plus-paddy/

  • plain

    the problem is everyone has injuries yet there are teams like UTD who seems to always be there compared to us

  • Wrenny

    Great article, and great comment from Dan Green. I wasn’t at all aware that penalties were part of the set-piece figure so thank you for the information. And as you say, the figures don’t show how many set-pieces we have to defend, just how many goals we’ve conceded. As the perceived wisdom is that Arsenal are weak in the air, it’s likely that we are targeted for aerial bombardment more than our competitors, and are defending more set-pieces, crosses, long balls, etc. Without knowing those figures we can’t ascertain the EFFICIENCY of our defence from set-pieces, which may be equal to or higher than the likes of Utd, City or Chelsea.

    Coming back to the article, it’s interesting to see the effect of injuries around the the Carling Cup final, widely acknowledged to be the the time when we lost our form and the end of our season began. The league match before the CC final was at home v Stoke – we started the game with 5 injuries but lost Cesc and Theo during the match. We then lost RVP in the final. By the next league game we play following the Wembley defeat, away to West Brom, our injury tally had rocketed to 9. (And a number of those were first team players, I believe the weighted figures will heighten the impact of injuries felt around that time).

    We keep on hearing about how it was Arsenal’s mental weakness and inexperience that cost us the final and the matches that followed, but you can see how injuries were a big factor during that period.

  • walter

    Nick Lee, if you would have been here before you should know that Dale also listed the injuries of the other teams and has the same stats for those teams.
    I think in the next articles he will include those numbers also.

  • jbh

    Dan Green
    Excellent points raised. To save you some time and effort anyone that is twitter registered can ask Orbinho at OPTA and I’m sure he will provide the numbers.
    The key is to ask for the number of fouls that Arsenal has conceded in the final third of the pitch (they have those numbers), and number of corners. Then compare the number of fouls conceded in those areas with other teams, and compare the % of those set plays converted to goals.
    It could be that Arsenal are very efficient at defending set pieces (% conceded per foul or corner) in the final third but simply suffer from a very high number of fouls awarded against them in those threatening positions. And of course if you wanted to tilt the game a certain way one approach is to award many free kicks in threatening positions.

    In any event Arsenal will have the best defender in the league next season – his name is Vermaellen. On the PL team of the year the year before!
    If you look at the number of goals (excluding some of those ridiculous penalty decisions) it is quite good considering Arsenal had 3 new central defenders (Djourou back from injury and Kos/Squ new to the league).

  • bob

    @Dale: Your full-disclosure of what you had/didn’t have to work with, etc., is a breath of fresh air. It obviously gives people a chance to weigh in, think better, suggest new data sources, and is therefore instructive and inclusive. Cheers for a great example of a valuable contribution using statistical analysis in a real-world setting. Speaking as a non-statistician, but keen on learning from how it can operate in constructive truth-seeking ways, you have my thanks.

  • bob

    @Dan, Dale: sorry, I meant @Dan above. Cheers to you both!

  • TommieGun

    Thanks a lot Dale and Dan ! Very important read ….