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Untold Injury Index – Gameweek 21 & Half-Season Review

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Untold Injury Index – Gameweek 21 & Half-Season Review

By Dale Higginbottom

Gameweek 21 and we’re back into our weekly round-ups of injuries of the big six teams. This week saw the first league game to be impacted by the African Cup of Nations. City, Chelsea and Arsenal are the only affected teams of the top-six and looking at injuries it will more likely impact Arsenal above the other two.  By how much, we may not know but it’s something to  look at when we see how many players are unavailable. Let’s look at the injuries for gameweek 21.

A = Ankle K = Knee
B = Back L = Achilles
C = Calf M = Muscle
D = Dead Leg N = Hip
E = Hamstring R = Rib
F = Fatigue/Lack of Fitness S = Shoulder
G = Groin T = Thigh
H = Head Injury/Concussion U = Unknown
I = Illness Y = Hand
J = Foot Z = Broken Leg

Swansea Vs Arsenal (3-2)

Injuries Swansea (2 + 0S) Arsenal (10 + 0S)
Goalkeeper N/A Fabianski (K,7)
Defence Tate (Z) Sagna (A,15), Gibbs (M,15), Jenkinson (B,11), Santos (A,7), Vermaelen (C,9)
Midfield Bodde (K) Wilshere (A,21), Coquelin (E.1), Diaby (M,19), Arteta (C,1)
Attack N/A N/A
Additional issues N/A Miyaichi returned to the reserves and looks now to be fit to play. Mertesacker and Rosicky were doubts due to illness.  Mertesacker started and played the first 77 minutes of the game, Rosicky came on as a 63rd minute sub.
Suspended N/A N/A

 

Chelsea Vs Sunderland (1-0)

Injuries Chelsea (2 + 0S) Sunderland (6 + 0S)
Goalkeeper N/A Gordon (K)
Defence Ivanovich (E,4) Bramble (C), Angeleri (K), Brown (G)
Midfield Mikel (E,4) Colback (A)
Attack N/A Campbell (K)
Additional issues Essien returned to the squad after a long spell out and came on after 73 minutes. Malouda and Sturridge also returned to the squad on the bench. Malouda came on wth five minutes to play. Bardsley and Wickham returnd to the squad. Bardsley played the whole game, Wickham came on as a 80th minute sub. Kilgallon was replaced after 45 minutes with an ankle injury.
Suspended N/A N/A

Man Utd Vs Bolton (3-0)

 

Injuries Man Utd (8 + 0S) Bolton (7 + 0S)
Goalkeeper N/A Jääskeläinen (T)
Defence Vidic (K,14), Smalling (I,9), Jones (U,2) Alonso (F), Mears (Z)
Midfield Cleverley (A,15), Fletcher (I,9), Young (A,6), Anderson (U,9) Davis (K), Gardner (K), Holden (K), Lee (Z)
Attack Owen (T,15) N/A
Additional issues Fabio returned and was on the bench as an unused sub. Evans returned to the squad after illness and played the whole game. Ferdinand played the whole game despite being a doubt through illness. Welbeck picked up a knock and was replaced late on. N/A
Suspended N/A N/A

Liverpool Vs Stoke (0-0)

Injuries Liverpool (4 + 1S) Stoke (2 + 0S)
Goalkeeper N/A N/A
Defence Robinson (A,13), Agger (U,3) Shotton (A)
Midfield Lucas (K,8), Spearing (E,1) N/A
Attack N/A Sidibe (K)
Additional issues N/A Woodgate was a doubt for the game but started and played the first 78 minutes. Wilkinson returned to the squad and came on to replace Woodgate. Wilson was also doubtful but played 90 mins.
Suspended Suarez N/A

Tottenham Vs Everton (2-0)

Injuries Tottenham (5 + 0S) Everton (6 + 0S)
Goalkeeper N/A N/A
Defence King (E,8), Gallas (C,9) Hibbert (G), Coleman (T), Jagielka (K)
Midfield Huddlestone (A,17), Parker (K,2), Sandro (C,6) Barkley (K), Rodwell (E), Osman (K)
Attack N/A N/A
Additional issues N/A Cahill was a doubt but started and played the whole game. Distin was forced off after 59 minutes with a hamstring injury.
Suspended N/A

Tottenham Vs Wolves (1-1)

Injuries Tottenham (4 + 0S) Wolves (3 + 0S)
Goalkeeper N/A N/A
Defence King (E,9), Gallas (C,10) Craddock (E),  Zubar (K)
Midfield Huddlestone (A,18), Sandro (C,7) O’Hara (M)
Attack N/A N/A
Additional issues Parker returned to the squad and played the whole game. Fletcher, Edwards and Johnson were all slight doubts but all started and played most of the game.
Suspended N/A N/A

Wigan Vs Man City (0-1)

Injuries Wigan (2 + 0S) Man City (2 + 1S)
Goalkeeper Kirkland (B) N/A
Defence N/A Richards (E,3)
Midfield Maloney (C) N/A
Attack N/A Balotelli (A,3)
Additional issues Crusat returned to the squad and played the first 68 mins. Silva was a slight doubt with an ankle strain but started and played 81 minutes.
Suspended N/A Kompany

Arsenal head back into double figures for the number of players unavailable due to injury. As has been the case in recent weeks, United are close behind us and Spurs lead the rest of the chasing pack. It’s difficult to see these sorts of figures, particularly after a defeat but it clearly shows the additional hoops Arsenal have to jump through just to  compete with our rivals.

On the whole injuries have been dealt with quite well and replacement players have swiftly slotted into the team and taken most things in their stride. However, now it appears that the lack of full-backs has finally caught up with us.

Against Swansea my initial disappointment was the performance and not the result. The lack of possession was simply bizarre for an Arsenal team that is usually so comfortable with the ball.  It was easy to see that we missed a little in midfield but the pressure that we were continuously put under on the flanks was the most difficult thing for the team to deal with. The reduced attacking threat from Miquel and Djourou would certainly not have been an issue with Sagna, Jenkinson, Gibbs or Santos in those positions.

It’s not just the full-back positions where Arsenal have struggled to keep some sense of consistency in selection. Wilshere, Diaby and Arteta are three players with a perfectly viable shout for a first-team place who were all unavailable against Swansea. In fact let’s look that the list of ten injured players and add to that the two players in the African Cup of Nations, can we create a team?

Fabianski

Jenkinson Sagna Vermaelen Gibbs

Diaby

Arteta Wilshere

Gervinho Chamakh Santos

Sub: Coquelin

Now that’s a team that, at the very least is a bit more balanced than the one sent out on Sunday. This is really frustrating that so many players are out but there’s plenty still be positive about. We’re still in the FA Cup, Champions League and still with a good shout of achieving Champions League football next season.

In these injury reviews I usually chat a little bit about performances and injury situations of the other five teams but, there’s not a lot to say other than make note of  Frimpong’s great performance for Wolves against the Totts to keep them to one point. Instead of that I thought I’d do a little bit of a half-season review of injuries. So first up the sum total of all games missed through injury by all players.

 

Team 2011 Injuries 2010 Injuries
Arsenal 127 113
Man Utd 124 90
Tottenham 103 111
Chelsea 48 71
Liverpool 45 52
Man City 25 80

 

As last year, the half-way point of the season sees Arsenal top of the injury table. The odd thing is that whilst the injury situation is worse this season, compared to last, there is a feeling that we’re doing a better job of dealing with it. Whether we are or not, we can’t truly say but I think even if we’d had an injury situation similar to last season, we would have one or two more points on the board. To have more than 100 more than City is clearly a huge difference to make up. We can be pretty certain that had the situations been reversed, City would not have the points they have now.

Now let’s have a look at the number of players that have been impacted by an injury this season. The below table shows the  total number of player that have missed at least one game through injury this season.

Team 2011 Injuries 2010 Injuries
Arsenal 21 16
Man Utd 21 17
Tottenham 21 19
Chelsea 11 16
Man City 10 15
Liverpool 9 12

So, a three-way race on this one. As we’ve said most of the season, there is certainly a divide between the haves and have-nots. One thing to notice is the increase compared to last season of the top 3, yet the bottom three have been a bit more fortunate with injuries. So, have City, Liverpool and Chelsea improved their medical teams? Have their squads improved so they can rotate more? It could be any number of reasons but either way, there is a figure there to see who is doing a good job of things.

Actually, talking about relative performance, one thing to note from all of this is that at the halfway point of the season we were only three points behind our tally for the same point last season. Considering our poor start to this season, it’s not a bad place to be and, even with the defeats in the last two games, if the performances can get back on track and we cope well with injuries, there’s no reason why we can’t surpass last season’s tally.

So, next up it’s time to get revenge for the 8-2 defeat at old Trafford. It’s funny that we’re at a similar injury crisis situation now as we were when we faced United last and also, like that game, it’s the last league fixture before the end of the transfer window. Thankfully United will be without players which at the very least makes things a bit more even.

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Editorial note: I am taking a break for a little while, and for the next 3 weeks Walter will be in charge of Untold.  If you want to submit an article please do so to walterbroeckx@hotmail.com   Tony

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19 comments to Untold Injury Index – Gameweek 21 & Half-Season Review

  • Laundryender

    We have been top of this league by some distance for far too long, not weeks nor months, but seasons!

    It does demand explanation, my opinion is that the reasons are varied from how we play the game, to how teams play us, to the extra pressure of wanting to win a trophy and playing every trophy to win. Like Arsene Wenger, i do not believe in coincidence.

    Injuries have cost us far too dearly once again, thinking of the players who will not be on the pitch against Man Utd makes my stomach contort with frustration.

  • Peter Northcott

    My favourite subject. It can not be coincidence that we are on course to win this League for at least the 4th season in a row. It does seem striking that this appalling run approximately coincides with a change in the medical team (doc + physio).

    It also, less exactly, coincides with the change in stadium. Do the artificial fibres (never seen a divot at Ashburton Grove!) cause a problem?

    The other key theory that bears further investigation is over-training: the closer to a player’s peak you push them the more likely they are to be injured (reference track athletes who are very close to the limit and therefore frequently injured). I have heard the rumours that Arsenal players run further/harder than other squads (per GPS tracking). So being able to deliver in the last 15 minutes of games is set against having, on average, 5 more first team squad players injured EVERY game than Man City! Frankly, I would rather not have that last 15 minute superiority…

    I know I bore everybody stupid about this, but injuries are Arsenal’s single biggest problem – and it has been the case for years. How can the team be expected to perform well when the first SIX full backs (the four plus Vermaelen and Coquelin) are ALL unavailable?! It clearly destabilises the defence AND adversely impacts our attacking potential.

    THIS is the “Untold Arsenal” that really needs telling!

  • Laundryender

    @Peter Nescott

    your argument on Desso would be valid were we the only team to use it, however many premier league clubs do so.

    for the attention of anyone interested

    http://www.dessosports.com/en/sports/football/

  • Mandy Dodd

    Agree, injuries are our biggest problem, ahead of player retention.
    Agree, the ground and training pitch materials may contribute, we get really strange injuries – stress fractures to the back – Clichy, Gilberto, Denilson and now Jenkinson – who else gets injuries like that , and in such numbers? Then the ever pervasive calf strains.
    Our lack of rotation compared to bigger and maybe better squads must contribute, Jack was over played lasy year with disasterous consequences, RVP , Arteta and Rambo could be heading for problems.
    Maybe our players reach dangerously high levels of fitness as you say.
    Whatever it is, I wish the club would do something about it, these injuries are incredibly costly. Watched Barca this week, the same faces week in week out, ok a better climate, less competitive games and maybe better protection from refs, tho maybe not in this weeks game…but on the whole, their key players are so rarely injured.
    Slightly off topic but the PGMOL have a real dilemma this week. Howard Webb, with his well documented erm sympathies I believe, but stand to be corrected – will ref the City Spuds game, to take place before erm Utd play us. What does he do there? Then, he is 4th official for us vs Spuds . One man with alleged sympathies having influence over the top 3 teams over the space of two days. What does he do if he wants to help Utd on the Citeh game? Then, we have Mike Dean , another with alleged sympathies, but also an ambitious career minded establishment ref with a past, who does not seem to like Arsenal. Does he put in a fair performance, OR help his career by sending off Song or Jd, or giving a Utd a dodgy pen BUT at what cost to the Spuds? If these refs are biased they have a real dilemma this weekend. My guess, the Spuds are less threat to Utd than Citeh so both the Spuds and Utd will get a lot of help over the weekend. I am genuinely intrigued here, but just goes to show the influence of Webb. As Wenger alludes to, by the time we play Utd, we will know the other result, a biased / corrupt ref has the chance to act accordingly. If there is a city win, Utd will need help, as maybe will Spurs. leaves us as the Mike Dean fall guy in that event with Webb watching over proceedings…just incase?

  • Esrom

    Something is terribly wrong with the medical staff if every season injuries plague us, causin’ us problems of competing for the championship. i’m not looking for quick fixes, but some staff jobs need to be revaluated when the fitness of the players cannot be maintained over an entire season. Always saying we’re unlucky can no longer cut it.

    We play the Barca way, but they seem to be in better shape that the arsenal and achieving alot more that what we have set out to do with the same philosophy. it hurts to see us with so much potential yet so little to show and the same ol’ rhetoric of injuries, refs, financial stability.

    Still, i love the club to death and i’ll be here every season knowing this might just be the year when we show the world WE ARE THE ARSENAL!!!

    Please forgive my rant!

  • Esrom

    Oops, used ‘that’ in place of ‘than’

  • Stuart

    I’ve mentioned my views on this before but they were not taken very well if I recall.

    I still believe there is an issue with the Physio / Medical policy / possibly staff at Arsenal which would explain the injury crisis that has engulfed us and probably single handedly prevented us from winning the title for several seasons by ruling key players out for crucial games after being played whilst unfit.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Frustrating to be at the top of this league. But it would be far worse if we would have the same amount of points and have had not injuries at all. That would be bad.

    But now we must know that if we would have the level of injuries of the other teams we would have more points. Of that I am sure.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Seem to remember an article from the start of the season, think it was Lewin saying that in fact Arsenal do not get more injuries than other teams.
    I respectfully beg to differ, and data from Untold proves him wrong!

  • Stuart

    Walter,

    Yes, it is some what re-assuring (in a kind of wierd and twisted way) to be in the position we are in and have suffered all the injuries we have had but at the same time it is very frustrating that these injuries are happening at such a rate.

  • DC

    Good article and, like you Stuart, I feel that this is the most significant hurdle that Arsenal and Arsene has had to try and overcome over the years – even greater than the loss of the big his players! Having been a surgeon for one of the professional basketball teams in the NBA in the US a few years ago before i moved back to the UK, I have a real interest and some personal experience in this area.
    Injuries are indeed Arsene’s biggest problem and have been for these “trophy-less” years! Without those injuries, the players and squads he’s garnered over the years have certainly been good enough to have won many things!
    Fracture injuries have certainly been destabilising but I think the real problem is more integrally within the conditioning and training regimen that the players, particularly the younger, are put through. I doubt that any other team trains as intensely (even Barcelona) and then has to cope with physical and aggressive opponents twice a week in their matches?! This situation will always incur a physical price that the players will have to pay at some point and may also result in “burn-out” with long term consequences. This is where the medical staff should be earning their money and can be blamed; but ultimately it is the coaching staff that get the balance wrong between training time and intensity in preparation for optimum physical performance of each individual player on match-day! Do the conditioning coaches Arsenal have employed over the last few years since Arsene changed the style of play fully know what they are doing with these young players in the EPL?
    Additionally, young and exuberant players that are keen to impress and always play, yet do not know or fully appreciate their own body’s limits and capacity (unlike the experienced geriatrics of Chelsea and now Man City) cause serious early “niggling” attritional damage to their underdeveloped limbs and joints without ever admitting it openly before it gets too late!
    Seeing as the match officials do not also protect Arsenal players (as they tend to protect the other title contenders’ players – especially ManU) consequential fracture injuries from bad and unrestrained challenges have hurt the side over the years; however the “niggling” attritional bone and soft-tissue problems that spiral into chronicity (N.B. Diaby and Gibbs, and RVP, Rosicky and Walcott not so long ago) are the true killers for the club’s ambitions to attain honours!
    If the coaching staff, with suitable help from the medics, address these innate physical-development factors, and correctly identify and balance the regularity and intensity of each individual-player’s training needs, things will invariably improve on the injury front!
    Consequently, i doubt that the nature of the playing and training surface has had any genuine impact on these perennial problems as it almost certainly would have been addressed by now!

  • WalterBroeckx

    Yes Stuart that was the way I meant to say it. It is indeed very frustrating….

  • stuart

    I always worry when we hear “….. faces a late fitness test”. Apparently Thierry faces a late fitness test for the weekend.

    I’d prefer to go another game without them, play them in the reserves to build back up if need be as long as we can have them back in the first team for the long term. It just seems half our team is injured and the other half is stretched to its limit all the time.

  • stuart

    DC

    Further to your comment, if I may add,

    It is often quoted in the media that players ‘declare themselves fit to play’. Is this true? It certainly wouldn’t be the right way to run a club in my opinion.
    Looking at the financial crash that recently happened to the banks will show you what damage only looking for short term results will do. Maybe we need to replicate our financial planning for the squad operation.

  • DC

    @Stuart,
    Self-declaration is indeed the case with most sports-people because minor fitness-issues are not clinically obvious to most members of the coaching and medical staff; and prior below-par performances that ultimately result in the more serious injury, are sometimes wrongly interpreted as a ” loss of form” rather than the clinical signs of an underlying health and fitness issue! Consequently, the responsibility of reporting a “twinge”, “pull” or “knock” is greatly in the hands of the athlete.
    Whilst I was working in the US, every basketball player, from the moment they enter a sports’ programme in high-school, college and the pros, is informed of their obligation, and expected, to divulge any health issues that they may have pre, during and post-matches. As there is usually a game every other day in the pros, the intensity and endurance requirements of the players is high so rather than work on lengthy and additional high-impact fitness drills during training days, the sessions are used as “cool-down” (recovery) and strategy sessions. The initial “game-time” stamina is developed pre-season and continues throughout the season in the form of the matches themselves. This means that when games come along, the players that have now declared themselves fully fit, are able to “leave their best game on the court” every night!
    I have a feeling that the young Arsenal players perhaps aren’t as indoctrinated, self-aware and careful when it comes to their fitness (and that’s probably because they’re so desperate to play or they feel they have no choice but to play as there’s no one else able to play in their position when the squad’s besot with injuries). Consequently, by the time their problem does become evident to the coaches and medics, it’s too late!
    The best way to deal with this problem is as I’ve mentioned above in my previous post and concomitantly educate the players wrt prevention and the serious consequences for the club and their longer-term career if there’s non-disclosure of their genuine state of fitness! “Appearance bonuses” may also be a contributing factor but they certainly are not worth the gain if the risks of playing when you’re not fit in order to receive them will hinder you and the team in the longer term.

  • DC

    I meant to say “beset with injuries” not “besot”.

  • RedGooner

    Dale have we ever looked at the age group of the injured players on teams.
    Has the age of our players something to do with it IE gibbs and jenkins.
    Does the premier league make it harder for young players to stay fit is the balance in our team correct when it comes to youth etc over the past few seasons ?
    How do the young players at other clubs fair with injuries when taking into account the number of appearances ?

  • stuart

    DC
    Yes, I was also thinking along the lines of appearance bonuses, win bonuses would also be a part of the issue too! Could be eliminated by putting the bonus into a central pot and dishing out equally to the team for their TEAM effort.

  • DC

    Stuart,
    I agree and i’ve often wondered why this isn’t already the case?! If money is players’ motivation, then i’m sure this could enhance focus and players’ communication DURING MATCHES wrt who is accountable for mistakes and failures?!