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Top of two leagues at once (but one is not wanted)

By Walter Broeckx

I don’t have to remind you all of the fact that we are top of the league. Just imagine with a serious ref in the first game we might have been 3 points clear. But that is the way the PGMOL goes so we cannot do anything about that but remember it when we see him again.

What is very impressive is the way the team reacted to this setback. A part of the fans went in overdrive and declared that all should be sold and fired and sacked. More sensible supporters saw the one way refereeing on the day and was waiting to judge the team after a first loss since the start of March in competitive games.

And lo and behold just 4 games later we are there top of the league. That is the way to react to things going against you. That is the way to show character. And in between qualify for the group stages of the CL with what pundits described before the games as the most difficult draw of them all and then changed their stance to our opponents just being weak. And winning an away game at Marseille and that isn’t the easiest place to go to in the CL.  But we did it and kept our winning run going.

But what is even more impressive in the next league table that I will show you. And this shows that the quality of the team we have is much bigger than the critics have given us credit for. Because if we look at the injury league table we can see that we are not just first in the PL table but also in the injury league table. And that is something that rarely goes together. So here it is at the end of last week this is how the injury league table looked:

Team Total players out injured this season
Arsenal 45
Crystal Palace 37
Newcastle 34
Man United 31
WBA 29
Sunderland 28
Liverpool 25
Fulham 22
Man City 20
West Ham 19
Norwich 18
Everton 17
Stoke 16
Swansea 16
Tottenham 16
Aston Villa 15
Chelsea 14
Hull 12
Cardiff 11
Southampton 8

So Arsenal had been missing 45 players that could have played in total in those five games we had up to now. That is an average of 9 players missing each game.

And amongst those players we have had a few important names that could/should walk in the starting line up when they are fit. Arteta who has been in the team always when he was fit last season and remember the fear we had when he wasn’t declared completely fit to start at Newcastle in the last game of the season. Newcastle didn’t score but we had to take Arteta off early on in the game. He has been the main player during the last two seasons when it came to getting the balance in the team right.

We had Vermaelen out from the start. We lost Oxlade-Chamberlain in the first game of the season (and that didn’t help us at all in that game).

We lost players like Lukas Podolski who was rather good when we played Fulham and scoring a couple of goals.

We lost Rosicky who also was being in good shape until he left to play an international game for his country. Oh well…

Last week we lost Walcott just before the game started – and now he is having an operation. If you look at all these names it is clear to see that many of them are important for Arsenal or are full time internationals for their country. So we lost a lot of quality in the early stages of the season.

And we probably lost the best player of the PL last season to an injury. Cazorla didn’t play after the international break. I don’t know where he got his injury but looking at the date that he was left out I wouldn’t be surprised if it was an injury he got playing for Spain.

In fact you could make almost a decent team with those players. And then I even didn’t mention Diaby.

So people say the squad is thin and yes of course they are right for the moment. But if those players come back then we don’t have a big enough bench to put them on. Injuries come and go and at Arsenal they seem to be more coming than going at some moments in the season.

And the only thing we can do is trying to stop our players playing international games  as that would cut out 30% of our injuries or thereabouts. Remember Vermaelen also got his injury playing for Belgium and Monreal also (be it for Spain of course).

And if you compare this to the other teams who are near the top it is even more amazing to find us there. Chelsea had only 14 injured players in total. We had 3 times as many. Tottenham had also hardly 16 injured players in total.  And we also had more than the double compared to Manchester City.  The only other top team that suffered a bit more are Manchester United. But they only had to deal with two thirds of what we were facing.

So despite being hit by the worst injury record of all teams, despite being hit by the worst refereeing performance of the fresh season, our boys stood up to the challenge and showed they are willing to fight whatever comes their way.  I can just admire the team for that. And hope that we don’t get too many injuries in the next international games and that by then most of them are fit and  ready to fight for their places again.

Let us keep that top spot in the PL but let us get rid of that top spot in the injury league table.

Elsewhere today…

How Chapman did not invent WM, but how he and Buchan did something far more effective

The books…

79 comments to Top of two leagues at once (but one is not wanted)

  • AL

    Walter, this is what we have been saying to the nay sayers all along; it’s a miracle what our team has achieved over the last 6 to 7 years given what they’re up against. You rightly point out we SHOULD be 3 points clear at the top had we had an impartial ref on the opening day. In fact, it goes even further than that, we SHOULD be at least 6 points clear if you consider that the team lying second got a bit of help from the men in the middle through two dodgy penalties in their first two games. Now when in it comes to end of the season, and lets just say we lose the title by 5 points, will any of these people remember this? I doubt.

    Regarding the injuries Arsenal players are targeted everywhere they go simply because the refs allow teams to kick them off the park in the premiership. So subconsciously opposing players start thinking it’s ok to kick Jack, Rosicky, Walcott,etc, on sight. Can you imagine Rooney being at the receiving end of such a bad tackle. All in the media will be up in arms against that player. I recall a certain player playing for Derportivo la Corruna who was vilified after accidentally stepping on Beckham in a champions league match. The poor boy, Fischer I think he was called, was almost hounded out of the game. But if someone steps on Jack it’s ok. No wonder we end up with such a long injury list. RvP will now get better protection from the refs because he plays for utd.

    I have said it and will say it again, we would have won at least 2 titles since our last one had the playing field been even. The obvious ones would be the 2005/06 where our record was brutally ended at the old toilet in that 50th game, where we were threatening to go a second season unbeaten. And obviously the 2008 season. So that’s a minimum of two, probably with an FA & a CC cup somewhere in there. But we were never allowed, and all these people can talk of is how we haven’t won anything in x years.

    The team has done exceptionally well under the circumstances. Any team missing 8 regular first teamers that sits on top of their table can only be exceptional.

  • AL

    Duscher I meant to say, stupid auto-correct.

  • AL

    Ok, maybe the Duscher tackle on DB was OTT, but the point is he was not made to get away with it. And other players also took note, and this is the kind of protection we need for our players too.

  • blacksheep63

    Walter I hate them going away for internationals (esp pointless friendlies) but the players like it. Also by your stats 70% of injuries occur at home. I think we need to look at what we can do to improve that stat since we can’t do much about the other one

  • Stuart

    Blacksheep,
    70% of injuries may occur at home however the real stat we need to look at is that the other 30% of injuries happen in (up to) 12 international games per season which is just 16% of the games per season (and I’m being conservative with my figures here)

  • AL,

    Good points. The 1st instance was 2004/5 season not 2005/6. I don’t want the usual suspects latching unto this to undermine your well reasoned comment.

    I hope we have better luck with injuries this season. If we are able to always have a fit first 14-15 players, we’ll be fine. Consistency is what will take us to glory and we can only be consistent with our best legs being available.

    Keep the faith!

  • nicky

    It’s all very well quoting numbers and statistics about our unusual injuries record.
    What is more important is WHY?
    For years now our perpetual sick list has been a talking point among fans, not only of Arsenal FC but those of our rivals as well.
    WHY?
    Is it our close passing game? Is it the fault of the Club’s physios? The medical people? The diet? Does Arsene lean towards a non-contact policy on the field, where possible?
    What is the reason?

  • Walter, Nicky makes a good point here regarding Why we suffer such a poor injury record.

    I know Gary Lewin is no longer at the club, but he is someone who actually went to my school (he is a good few years older than me)and that I know. He and his cousin (our current Physio) are excellent and very well respected so that is not the issue.

    My understanding (and please feel free to shoot me down in flames) is that we are arguably the fittest team in the PL, but as a result I wonder if we ‘over-train’ resulting in highly tuned but brittle muscles and ligaments. This coupled with our playing style (which can invite late challenges) I believe is the root of the problem (lack of protection from the refs goes without saying of course).

    Having said that we also seem to pick up too many injuries in training, which again could be a reflection of over doing the training.

    This is not a new problem as we know and we seem to have been plagued by this for many years. It is also worth noting that it is a problem that breeds more injuries, because you are more susceptible to picking up a niggle when returning from injury in the first place.

    That’s my prognosis for what it’s worth…….

  • AL

    Ah, thanks Bootoomee. You’re right, they would pick on that and dismiss the rest of the argument. And yes, should we keep our main players fit I think we will hit the consistency levels required to deliver without much difficulty.

    nicky
    Not attempting to claim to have the answer to your questions, but have you considered what I said in my 7:12 post that other English players from other clubs are given better protection by refs even in international matches. We could try and blame Wenger’s passing game but you will also find some, if not most of these injuries, are picked up while on international duty.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Interesting points Brad. But if you are correct, is this harming us? Is this even sustainable? I wish someone would take a look at this at some point. Is our training appropriate? Are our recovery techniques and medical / diagnosis facilities and staff the best in class.? I am not saying otherwise as I know nothing of such things , just asking a question that lets face it many have been asking. Fair play to the team and coaches for getting us where we are , we all know the refs issues seem almost designed to hamper us, but a couple more injuries and it could all be thrown away. We are maybe a conservative club, not always quick to change things, and sometimes for very good reason, but is it possible we could be doing a lot better on this front? I have heard whispers we have just about the hardest pre season going, maybe giving this extra fitness. But combined with world tours, internationals that seem to be the way of things now, is it any wonder the starts of season are so challenging for us? I really hope all the hard work and esteem built up recently is not undone by all this. Looks like we need to take a very hard look at this in Jan

  • I don’t want to get overly analytical about why we get injuries but I’ll stick to poor protection from refs and plain old bad luck. Case in point: RvP.

    This guy was getting injured every 3 months or so and then he went for over 2 and a half years without getting injured; 1 and a half of those with Arsenal. He was playing internationals and training hard during these periods. I recall him being called Robin Van Porcelain because of his then brittle legs. What changed about him?

    BTW, I’m aware that he is injured at the moment.

  • Matt

    You do seem to be forgetting we have a team full of crocks though, Rosicky,Diaby,Walcot,Sanogo & Wilshere have spent half there careers on the sidelines. Not to mention Gibbs,Arteta,Ox & Vermaelen who all seem to get injured pretty often.

    It’s always somebody else’s fault and this times it international refs? And not the fact we have injury prone players.

  • bob

    “Looks like we need to take a very hard look at this in Jan”
    Mandy Dodd,
    Indeed. Would you countenance a quality striker? Anything else? Wouldn’t you agree that with that and another purchase we could genuinely contend for the league?

  • Rupert Cook

    @Al, seriously you need to get over this titles we didn’t win or just alter the position in your Rothmans Football Yearbook and put Arsenal’s name in first place. It’ll make you feel better. You seem to deny any possibility that sometimes we got three points due to the ref’s ineptitude. And plenty of other teams probably lost points as well due to poor officiating. Why not get Walter to study every single game since 2005 and see exactly where all teams would be with correct decisions? Of course all this is moot anyway because you don’t allow for cause and effect in your argument but I won’t try and explain that again as the concept seems to difficult for the majority to grasp.

    It seems we have several injury prone players. Rosicky and Daiby are known for their fragility so it’s crazy to expect them to get through a season. Gibbs has had plenty of problems too but for the moment he seems to be ok. And Sanogo had barely put a shirt on before he got injured although he had form for injury so Wenger alone knows why he secured his services. Hopefully he’ll come good.

    Most clubs have injuries though why we have 45 beggars belief. It may just be bad luck or it maybe that we have injury prone players or it could be due to our training methods or any number of reasons.

  • bob

    Matt,
    Yes, yes, the list is long; and those performers are genuinely brilliant when fit. Is there something here that can’t be absorbed on a road to championship contention, all provided for by the purchase of an affordable quality striker and another key affordable quality piece in January?

  • rantetta

    I agree with your opening reply to this article, AL.
    I’m sure Arsenal’s ‘medical’ facilities were updated in the last year or so, and the staff that deal with those things had been to the US to check out the latest ‘machines/gizmo’s’ – and bought them. So I think Arsenal are up to date on that front.

    I believe there’s no use of illegal drugs that’ll aid recovery.

    Have a look at MOTD2 – where they analyse Ramsey’s performance against Stoke. Scroll forward to 49:10. You’ll see a Stoke player disrupting Ramsey’s progress by pulling the top of his shoulder and also a bit of a shoulder charge. At this point Ramsey’s running at top speed. Another oncoming Stoke player manages to kick the ball out. Ramsey tumbles – full pelt -towards the deck. As AL pointed out above, this is the sort of ‘play’ allowed against our players, and I think it’s this kind of not needed aggression that contributes to injuries to Arsenal players.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b03bsp9j/Match_of_the_Day_2_2013_14_22_09_2013/

    And here’s a Matt type fan. Pure negativity. Nothing’s good enough. Not a fan of Arsenal anyway. We know.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vHlDLg3gxmY

  • Rupert Cook

    @bob, definitely need a quality signing in January but we’ve been in that situation before and Wenger didn’t strengthen the team so I wouldn’t expect too much. Having said that we’re sitting on well over 100 million in the bank so the resources are there and if we do get too many injuries or we’re sitting in fifth with a 6 pt. gap then we may buy someone. But January is a bad time to get great quality and we’ll most likely have to pay over the odds.

  • bob

    AL,
    Yes, and we are again exceptional. To sustain that for a championship run, however, is the issue. And that means purchasing insurance. Quality insurance. People will want to play here with the likes of Ozil and Cazorla and be developed further by AW. Ozil is a magnet for further top quality pieces; he will lift their game by his brilliance. So, since the injury list is a chronic problem, one way to significantly reduce its impact is to purchase quality depth. The counter-argument is that well, no one with quality wants to sit on the bench and therefore won’t come here. But the counter to that is we wish to be viable for multiple cups and that, given injuries and the large numbers of ancillary games, will provide significant rotational and advancement opportunity for all. Plus it’s now affordable to buy such ensurance. Would you not agree (at least in part)?

  • bob

    Rupert Cook,
    Yes, but we now can pay over the odds for a couple of pieces for a championship run or more going forward. Some would say we paid over the odds for Ozil. But look at the dividends: worldwide attention which in turn means, kerching, expanding the fan base, more merchandise being sold, more TV appearances, increased positive attention (comparatively speaking), new bids by wannabee strategic partners, etc. And what excitement it generates. And what did all that ridding ourselves of some 17 players produce – the money to do this with. Spending some of that money will be an investment that could become a gift that keeps on giving. And, which can to some measure mitigate the injury crisis and buy healing time for the crocked and/or unlucky to return to do their bits. I agree that AW has detested the January window; but, whether for legacy or for going back to the future, he’s got the wherewithal to build a sustainable champion. The material conditions of that re-vision are at hand. Is there a will to seize the day, that, imo, is the question.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Have a feeling we may well need a srtiker in Jan Bob, unless we get Super Nick back to his potential, or Poldi is fully fit and it is possible to play him there. Theo surely has to be plan C or D as a striking option and Sanogo will not be ready by then. not sure who will actually be available in Jan though. I am starting to wonder if our pre season is based around having players stronger in the second half of the season, with maybe sacfifices early season, but if so, that would be a very fine line

  • Rupert Cook

    @bob, I wholeheartedly concur with your view. There’s absolutely no denying how invaluable a world class player is to a club, on and off the pitch. As an example, I was away holidaying in Bulgaria by the Black Sea last week and I noticed many football shirts on sale. The only Arsenal player on any of those shirts was Ozil, in German colours unfortunately, but you get my point.

  • bob

    Walter,
    Off topic, but, in case you didn’t notice, late yesterday AL astutely provided this important link that adds Holloway’s eyewitness testimony to the state of refshite and the bread crumb trail to The Dean: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/teams/crystal-palace/10327072/Crystal-Palace-manager-Ian-Holloway-points-finger-at-referees-high-five-with-Chelsea-striker-Didier-Drogba.html

  • WalterBroeckx

    Rantetta,
    maybe it is Matt himself? 😉

  • Pete

    Boo,

    Unfortunately, an appalling injury record over 6 seasons can not be put down to bad luck.

    My sense, as alluded to by other commenters, is that the principal reason is overtraining. Again, I have heard rumours down the years that we train harder than anyone else, specifically at a very high intensity.

    The latest rumour is that Aaron has a thigh strain. Ye gods.

    The club have spent a fortune on medical facilities but doesn’t seem to have helped much yet!

  • rantetta

    Walter
    Yes, it could be Matt, though who knows, maybe he doesn’t even go to Arsenal matches. Maybe he goes to that place 3 miles up the road, or one of those grounds in west London.

    Perhaps that’s Matt’s relation on the video. Certainly singing from the same hymn sheet. (Winky smiley thingy).

  • AL

    all
    Interesting views. Whatever the reason we get so many injuries we can’t overlook the part the refs play in this. I’ve just watched the link provided by rantetta and I do remember screaming at the telly then when Ramsey didn’t even get a free kick for those two fouls on him. How many times have we been saying on here that the refs need to give Wilshere better protection? With the way he’s being kicked left right & centre, its a miracle he’s not been injured already. And were he to turn up with an ankle injury tomorrow I wouldn’t blame any of that on Arsenal, but the kicking he’s been taking these last 5 or 6 weeks.

    We have had matches where the refs were calling fouls one way only for the entirety of the match, and that is against us, despite the thuggery on display from the other team. Villa this season & Everton last season spring to mind. No wonder we have had players missing through injury since the Villa game, and even though some came back they have been carrying knocks from that game. From recent memory I can think of another game at Stoke where we finished with 9 men on the field through injury & a red card. Yet Stoke finished with 11 men despite dishing it out like that. You only need two or three such physical games per season and it will take its toll on the team.

    bob, I agree about the need for insurance, and like Bootoomee concurred earlier, for a solid title run we need all our men fit. But this is being amplified at the moment by the number of injuries we are having all at once. If all these 8 senior players are back then we will not even have enough room for them on the bench. This creates a bit of a dilemma for the manager; acquire more players and then what when everyone recovers. Like you say, no good player likes warming the bench, and I can see some potential issues already when Rosicky, Diaby, Podolski, Carzola, The OX come back to join Ramsey, Arteta, Ozil, Flamini & Jack. Imagine if we threw another world class player or two in the mould of Fabregas, someone would’ve to leave. We have had less talented players leave before who couldn’t be patient to await their turn. Re an additional striker we all agree we need one so no point in debating this one out; were it not for mourinho who strung us along till the very last minute we wouldn’t be relying on Bendtner.

    BTW, nice to have you back Rupert. Such a shame your first contribution (after such a long time) is on an article that could be deemed to be talking about negative stuff(injuries), rather than the good results we have been enjoying lately. And I just hope we will be seeing a lot of you here with some positive contributions, if they maintain this fine run they’re in. Hope you had a cracking time in Bulgaria:) Don’t take this wrong or view it as a personal attack; I do enjoy reading your comments, even though I may not necessarily agree with the majority of them.

  • Tasos

    Ju-Young Park in the squad tonight?

    Along with;

    4 Per Mertesacker
    5 Thomas Vermaelen
    8 Mikel Arteta
    13 Emiliano Viviano
    17 Nacho Monreal
    20 Mathieu Flamini
    21 Lukasz Fabianski
    23 Nicklas Bendtner
    25 Carl Jenkinson
    30 Ju-Young Park
    31 Ryo
    37 Chuba Akpom
    40 Hector Bellerin
    42 Thomas Eisfeld
    44 Serge Gnabry
    45 Isaac Hayden
    53 Kristoffer Olsson
    60 Alex Iwobi

  • AL

    bob
    My first thought after seeing that link was it had to be dean too. He’s the sort of ref who can do things like that publicly, as he’s demonstrated by punching the air in the CC final and his little jig when the spuds scored against us.

  • sukebe

    @walter & rantetta

    Wearing a blue on a home game, using “we” while ranting down.

    Yeah, he have a ‘matt disease’ LOL

  • swing

    Are people seriously stating that a club such as Arsenal is so backwards in its training methods that its contributing to its own injury crisis by overtraining the players, that’s just insane. I just think some people are searching for reasons to make it Arsenal’s fault that we get kicked, hacked & assaulted generally in every game.

    The evidence is there for all to see, I mean robert huth’s attack on an 18 yr old Gnabry in the game against stoke is a perfect illustration of over-agression, what more do you need to look at to know that arsenal players get fouled more than players on other teams. How many times does Wilshere get fouled in a single game, no wonder he is always holding his ankle.

  • sukebe

    Over training is one possibility i must say, imagine the push they give to their body and mind to give us trophy.

  • sukebe

    The push from within the players, to make my opinion clear, not from others, let alone the club.

    It is one possibility…

    COOME ON YOU GUNNERS!!

  • Tom

    @Al. “Other English players from other clubs are given better protection by refs even in international matches” So now it’s an international conspiracy to punish Arsenal, is it?

  • bob

    AL,
    At the end of that great article, its very writer states that the only two refs that Holloway could be are Clattenberg or The Dean. And what with the little victory jig (aka “the fergie”), The Dean surely steps into the spotlight.

  • sukebe

    Hello tom, and your point is?

  • bob

    “Like you say, no good player likes warming the bench”
    AL,
    But I said this to then argue against it. My point is that there is not likely to be a point where the scenario of all players being fit will occur. And that there is a long track record of some of our stalwarts being injured, and, yes, kicked to bits. To plan for it and mitigate and ensure against it, the need is to buy quality. Incoming quality players will get their chance because of the need for rotation due to (a) injury and (b) multi-cup contention and (c) staying fresh in the business end(s). So, with respect, I take the opposite point of view – we do need to bring in a few more of top quality (1-3). The bench is not too short to accommodate this; and, being a contending side, people will want to participate and yes, as in all football sides, some will want to leave; and so what, fair play. It’s the price of being a real contender, and we can afford it; so there’s a way, if there’s the will.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Swing,
    you rightly take the Huth on Gnabry attack as a good example on how injuries can occur.
    Such an aggressive attack can cause a little tear in a muscle, a ligament, or whatever is needed in our body to stay in good shape. Gnabry will have felt the knock but any 18 year old playing his first game in the PL will carry on and ignore possible pain. With Theo out I can imagine Gnabry even wanting to play with one leg left. 😉 this is chance to shine in the absence of The Ox and Theo without X. (Just found that myself 😉 )

    But maybe tonight he gets another ban on the same unknown injured place. And next Saturday a further knock and further damage. Now such a thing can go on for a while and a few weeks but then suddenly in training the injury appears and he has to pull out.

    People then could ask questions about the training methods as the injury was sustained in training. But the damage might have been done already.

    I wonder if Theo was such an injury. Wenger said something about it not really being a hernia but something close to it. Maybe being kicked from left to right and attacked in the back every game is the reason for this injury “sustained” in the warming up.

  • swing

    Where is the evidence for over training as one of the factors for our constant injuries, can anyone give me credible quotes or evidence to back this theory up.

  • AL

    Tom
    Not a conspiracy, it’s not that simple. But human beings don’t exist in a vacuum. We see things going on around us every day that shape our subconscious, and the other players know its not a good idea to kick someone like say Rooney as opposed to The Ox for example. They don’t stop to draw up a list of people they can/can’t kick, but because of previous fall-outs they will know it’ll be best for their careers if they didn’t mess with certain players(refer to the Beckham incident above). Refs will behave the same too. These people will know the English media will be camped out their houses if they gave/made a ‘controversial’ decision against a popular player in England. Another example is how Ronaldo almost got hounded out of the prem for ‘getting Rooney sent off’, despite Rooney clearly stamping on another player. You can add the Nani sending off to that list if you like. That’s why I said the problem starts with our premiership refs who let other teams kick us off the park with the world watching. Don’t forget the premiership has got the biggest audience in the world, so when our players visit these foreign lands these guys(players & refs) will pretty much have an idea which players are untouchable and who isn’t.

  • Pete

    And Clatternburg of course is not Mr Popular at Chelsea…

  • WalterBroeckx

    About that article about a ref giving a high five to Drogba.
    I really cannot imagine Clattenburg to do such a thing.

  • bob

    Tom,
    Well Tom, some international refs are highly suspect in their Arsenal stitch-ups. To wit:
    Ever hear of Massimo Bussacca who turned a blind eye to chokings and serial predations in our CL loss at Barfa two seasons back? Looking at that performance (audition?), how can you honestly not wonder how this creature got an appointment to become HEAD SUPERVISOR of referees at FIFA – only weeks after the end of that CL tournament? Surely it’s not on merit; unless merit is defined as serving interests other than fair play.
    So, Tom, cut the horseshit.

  • sukebe

    @bob

    I agree that we are thin as wenger has stated about the squad, and the bench is still “big enough” for another 1-3 player more, and i do think we need it.

    But i don’t think we need nor will buy another top quality ozil like player.

    Why?

    A) Our revenue has dropped significant from what i learn (unless kroenke turning into one of those daddies)

    B) it’s our academy players turn to fill in those spots, which their quality is there.

  • nicky

    Having studied a host of comments, one or two possible reasons for our never ending sick list are beginning to emerge.
    1.Our dedicated aim for pace in all that we do, may mean we have sacrificed weight for speed. Players are easily knocked over and injuries ensue.
    2.There can be no doubt that many referees are providing little or no protection to our players. This in turn allows a more aggressive confrontation to be made, which will be overlooked by the official.
    3. There is so much adverse publicity these days, (bordering on paranoia I sometimes feel) about the kicking, hacking and assaulting of our players, could it be that the PGMOL are responding in the only way they can?
    In other words “getting their own back on a Club for all the criticism”. Childish I know, but think of all the appalling errors we have seen.
    Those who doubt should watch again the Manchester horror attack a few years ago when the Neville Bros and others committed GBH on a number of Arsenal players with total
    freedom.

  • bob

    sukebe,
    In fairness, yes, I see your point about the place for the academy players. In the interests of competing for the EPL championship that is possible this very season, there is room on that bench for another world class or at least top quality signing or two. That’s the choice as I see it for this season. You might be right in your approach for next season, but there’s this opportunity now and, given the injuries and the very large bank holdings (which you omit, with more to come season after season), this, imo, is our time. Why turn from it?

  • Pete

    Re international refs, I recall the one at Braga(?)a few years ago who was a disgrace… I believe there were some whispers about that subsequently? The chap in Marseille wasn’t great either but at least we won that – maybe more incompetence than bias?

  • Pete

    But I should write that I feel more confident about foreign refs than British ones.

    A broader point is that I always hope we get a northern European ref when playing a southern European team (different interpretations) but it rarely happens. Busacca having a disguised go at us?

  • WalterBroeckx

    Pete,
    at Marseille the ref had his first game in the CL. So maybe that could have been a reason for his performance.

  • AL

    bob 1:30pm
    Ok, fair enough. I do think we need 2 though instead of 1-3(1 CB & 1 striker, I do think we are ok in the mid where we have Santi & Ozil). But what would happen if the less than likely scenario of having all players fit at once happens? I know its unlikely but it is not impossible either…. and sometimes injuries work in a funny way, where only one department seems to suffer more than the other. At the moment our midfield, which I believe we have sufficient cover for, is suffering more than the other departments(from injuries, not cover, as we are clearly short of cover upfront for reasons stated earlier). If we went and got an extra body or two in this department in Jan, then come March and all the injured guys are back but it’s now the defence that’s depleted with injuries, what do we do then. I think its difficult to prepare for injuries when building a squad(though I concede this is where insurance can come in handy), as you still need to balance having the right players who you can keep happy without bloating the squad. I feel this is what AW has tried to do this season.

    Can you please clarify the positions we need to bring these top quality 1-3 players for, as we are probably seeing things the same. My view, bob, is you need two players for each position to start with, and then hope for the best with injuries. I don’t think we are far from this, if the 2 areas I identified at the start of this post are addressed.

  • bob

    Walter,
    Does Bussacca as head of FIFA referees have oversight over (UEFA) CL referees? If not, then who is head of UEFA referees? Please clarify this for us.

  • AL

    bob
    Just to clarify, I hadn’t seen your 1:57pm post in my response above. Anyhow, interesting views & I don’t think we are coming from completely different angles, and I don’t wish to steer this thread to one about signings, so I think I will give it a rest for now:)

  • sukebe

    Bob,

    Hey, i would hold my pint highest, and cheer loudest if we land two more ozil like in january..

  • bob

    AL,
    I’m with you on the striker and the CB. Beyond that, perhaps another winger (though I concede that’s got me worried in the present moment and maybe will come good soon enough). Good discussion, mate.

  • bob

    Would anyone know the person who has oversight over UEFA/CL referees?

  • AL

    bob
    Google says Perluigi Collina is head of Uefa Refs, not sure what this position entails though…..

  • Tom

    As per usual it’s a combination of things that contribute to Arsenal injury crisis rather than one single thing. I realize that blaming the referees is always a safe play when commenting on UA ,and to be fair there’s been plenty of examples to validate that point of view ,although it must be said certain Jack Wilshere could help himself by not diving into challenges as much as he does.However the main culprit without a doubt is player rotation, or lack thereof. Case in point- bringing on Cazorla in Villa game only two days after he ran himself into the ground , in what was no doubt a man of the match performance for Spain against Ecuador a half a world away. Now I don’t expect Mr Wenger to watch every performance of every Arsenal player while on international duty( the man is busy enough) but surely somebody should’ve told him about Cazorla’s performance and energy spent thus rendering him unfit for Villa game. Most soft tissue football injuries like groin strains , muscle and tendon tears occur as a result of not enough recovery time between games . Man City made ten personnel changes for their league cup game yesterday . Can Arsenal do the same ? I doubt it ,but for the sake of us having a bigger fish to fry, I hope so. Another reason for our perpetual injury crisis is having injury prone players in our squad (Diaby, Rosicky) which combined with Mr Wenger’s unwavering loyalty to them is always bound to render them unavailable for some ,or in Diaby’s case, most of every season. To suggest (as some posters have)that a manager who single handedly revolutionized English football would tolerate an incompetent medical department within the club beggars belief , although some diagnosis of player injuries have been understated in the past , it has to be said.

  • bob

    Thanks AL,
    So for general knowledge sake, in one breath it’s Bussacca at FIFA, Riley at EPL and Collina at UEFA. Cheers.

  • Mick

    Off topic and sorry for that but I have just seen Vertonghen’s foul from last night’s Villa/Spurs game where he pulls the Villa players shorts down from behind as he is about to shoot. Surely a penalty and red card but incredibly nothing from the ref. Given Spurs have already been awarded 2 or 3 highly dubious penalties and some ‘Fergie time’ to help them snatch victories this season is it possible that the spuds have replaced Man U as Riley’s ‘chosen one’s’.

  • GoingGoingGooner

    I don’t subscribe to the theory that our medical department is incompetent. AW tries to be as scientific as possible when judging whether someone is in the ‘red zone’ or not. It would be a gross contradiction. Perhaps, though, because of fixture congestion, squad size (and the injury list) he plays players more than he should. You can’t rotate what you don’t have.

    I do believe our players don’t get proper protection which needs no more evidence on this board however it is exacerbated by our style of play which involves ball possession, quick passes and movement in tight areas. The clumsy and over-zealous hit air or ankle when missing a quick Arsenal player.

    Regardless of how we view the Arsenal, we are not seen as the flagship of the Premiership by the media and others and thus, though a conspiracy is certainly possible, at a minimum we get no favours from officialdom.

  • AL

    Mick
    Thanks for your post; just seen the incident on youtube and its the clearest( & funniest) shout for a penalty you will ever see. And the Villa player’s shorts actually come off down to his knees so no excuse the ref may not have seen this. I agree with you that in recent years spurs seem to have started getting all kinds of favorable decisions. Even the ref reviews seem to support this.

  • rantetta

    Over-training?

    I do have my doubts about over-training. For starters the players wear certain gadgets when training. Those thingy’s record heart rates and other stuff. (Shows how much I know). Then there are hydra-pools, ice baths, masseurs and any manner of warm-down routines.

    Arsenal FC have had to deal with so many injuries over the last few years that I find it quite improbable that the club hasn’t looked in depth at how much training the players can safely take. So that’s my view on the possibility of over-training. I can’t say I’m entirely correct. It’s simply my view. (Cue: mass vitriol from those so inclined, eh?)

    I would love to see Park, Bendtner, Sanogo and Akpom (or at least 2 or 3 of them) give us a real surprise by showing good form and scoring some goals, or at least contributing, heavily, through their commitment to movement/finding or making space and therefore allowing our other players to score goals. Plus there is Podolski.

    At the end of the day (season), I think it’ll not be the number of big-price strikers Arsenal employ – it’ll more likely be if we’re treated fairly by the refs, and if we play well as a TEAM. It seems clear to me that refs will continue to allow nasty ‘tackles’ on our players and, as it was clear for all to see, it doesn’t matter how many world class players Arsenal put on the pitch – there will always be an Anthony Taylor who’ll be determined to screw us over.

    All of this doesn’t mean we should be pessimistic. Indeed, we the Arsenal faithful – have to be faithful.

    I don’t recall Arsenal having Chelski-like 6 established strikers. Rather – they have 2 top strikers (Giroud+Podolski), 2 bench strikers (Bendtner/Sanogo) and 1 or 2 youts – Akpom. (Plus those parked overseas – Campbell).

    Brickfields, help me out with an appropriate motivational/humorous link(s), please.

  • Tom

    @Bob . Yes , as I stated many times before on this forum ,that particular call against RVP in the Barca match was one of the worst sending offs I’ve ever seen . But in the spirit of “cutting the horseshit” , Bob, here’s some stats from that game . Arsenal’s possession 25% , no shots on goal ,no four passes strong together , and three passes put together only five times during entire game.

  • AL

    rantetta
    Agree. I would find it insulting if I was part of the management to hear fans saying our training methods are the cause of these injuries. Surely these guys employ the most capable sports physicists and doctors, to be making these kinds of mistakes that me as a fan would be able to spot from a mile away? Well, not just me being able to see these mistakes, but with the management team failing to notice them. That’s very very very unlikely.

  • bob

    Tom,
    Ok, glad you’ve screamed about the match. But what impact on these total stats you cite did RVP’s sending-off in the 55th minute have; putting us down to 10 men and losing our main scoring threat? And it’s also possible to have been outclassed and still endured an unfair overdose of refshite, which was the point of our (partial) disagreement.

  • AL

    Tom
    I think you will find those stats are skewed, simply because;
    a) we were leading on aggregate playing away from home so naturally we were always going to be defensive
    b) we played nearly 50% of that match with 10 men, so what could you expect
    c) Lastly but not least, we had 33% possession against Barca’s 67%. Barca has had more possession, actually it was 70%, against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, with Chelsea having all 11 men on the pitch. I think you will find our performance with 10 men was actually better than Chelsea’s at home in all departments apart from that one shot on goal of theirs.

  • Pete,

    So, how come overtraining did not affect him (RVP) during those 1 and half glorious and injury free seasons he later had with us? What has changed in his case and how come while he was injury free, many others were (and are) still getting injured?

    I don’t dabble into what I don’t know and I detest guess work. No one on this board is as knowledgeable about this matter as those in charge of it for the club. I don’t like situations where somebody makes a suggestion (e.g. overtraining may be responsible for our injuries) and others latch unto this like it’s fact.

    I’m upfront with my lack of knowledge of what’s causing our injuries other than poor protection from referees and yes, poor luck. You may not like the latter but it is no less valid than overtraining which I frankly think is a ridiculous rationale for professionals at this level.

  • AL

    Tom
    I made an error, Chelsea had 2 shots on target at the Bridge comapred with Barca’s 15. Check out the stats for yourself in these two links;

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/17673812

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/europe/9416255.stm

    But going back to the subject under discussion, refs let our opponents rough us up. Barcelona are not even the dirtiest side you will ever see, but even they looked a bit like Stoke on that day(in terms of the heavy-handedness that went unpunished, and you wonder why).

  • Mandy Dodd

    some interesting comments on the sources of injuries. Hard to disagree with any of them, and we all know what some refs do to us.
    But one issue that make me at least subscribe to at least partly the training / recovery / medics theories is the fact that it seems every youngster on the cusp of breaking through seems to go through these injuries. And in some cases before they have been exposed to these refs. And sometimws while out on loan with other clubs. Frimpong – both knees, a young Gibbs, a young Clichy, a young RVP, Ryo, Sanogo, a prototype Theo, now Ox- ok he is a first teamer just off the top of my head. Some never really seem to get over these injuries. Then there are the recurring strange injuries that I at least cannot recall other teams getting in such abundance – eg back fractures – Denillson, Gilberto – Vermaelen, think maybe Clichy or Gibbs as well?
    Maybe a lot is being sacrificed for pace or our training methods?

  • sukebe

    Remember the rib issues ryo had on pre season?

    I’m just saying that sometimes motivation has it’s own tolls.

    Then again, it’s a possibility..

  • Mandy Dodd,

    It could be any of the things that you enumerated but we cannot hold unto any of them with certainty and this is where I may disagree with many other commenters.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Very true Bootoomee, all speculation – as is a lot of things being a football fan, but just see some worrying patterns here. This site and others have done work on our players injuries, and without resorting to any proper stats, it does look as if over the last few years, we have had more injuries than others. I will be the first to admit, I know nothing of such issues, not sure anyone outside the club really does. I just want our players protected, from opponents who would wish them harm using tactics outside the laws and spirit of the game, from incompetent or biased refs, but also from within the club to the very best of the clubs ability

  • Pete

    Boo,

    I acknowledge I don’t know – what worries me is that I don’t think anyone knows! If they did then we would have found a solution!

    My apologies if you have a good statistical understanding. Mine is incomplete but I have studied it in the distant past…

    You can build up a statistical picture by estimating the likelihood of a player incurring an injury for every match he plays. There is then a probability distribution governing the number of matches missed once an injury has occurred.

    So if an “average” Premier League footballer has, say, a 5% chance of being injured in any particular match – and then the mean period out being 3 weeks (mode 1 week, median perhaps 2 weeks) – you might get something close to what actually happens. However, if Arsenal players have a 7% chance of being injured in any particular match – and then are out for a mean period of 5 weeks – the difference might not be apparent in the short term but would be very apparent in the longer term. Certainly over a 6 year period.

    Obviously this is a gross over-simplification as it ignores training injuries and individual players varying susceptibility, just for starters, but I think it is a starting point.

    I haven’t done the detailed number crunching – the Injury League are part way there – but my gut feel tells me that the last 6 years are NOT a statistical aberration. In fact the outcome is extraordinarily unlikely to have arisen by chance. On the other hand, there is still every chance that RVP could go a season and a half without an injury.

    Apologies if this is all elementary – but trying to set out how I see it.

    In terms of proof, I have none. But I have heard nth hand comments allegedly from someone who was involved in the GPS monitoring of Arsenal training sessions that Arsenal are the hardest trainers in the League in terms of high intensity sessions. We know that Wenger is very keen for us to be strong in the last 15 minutes of games. That is not achieved by accident – but at what cost?

  • I am with you Mandy. I just want the refs to do their freaking jobs while hoping that our players avoid the odd injuries here and there.

    Keep the faith!

  • Pete,

    I get your point. I actually did the first time. My point is that we don’t know for certain what is causing the long list of injuries that we have. The idea of overtraining or excessive training does not jive with me (sorry!). Of course, it could be the reason but as you have also agreed, no one knows for sure.

  • Swing,

    You may want to wind your neck in a touch, we are all supporting the same team and I was purely giving you my opinion on some of the reasons for our many injuries. I have no specific evidence other than my understanding of athletic training and the views of contacts I have that know far more about injuries than me.

    If you read my post I also agreed with the lack of referee protection, but I do not believe that alone is the only factor.

  • Anyway back to watching the stream of the game; come on boys!!

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Just like most of the regulars , I’ve no idea of this high injury list , but do agree that it is multifactorial and may not quite able to be diagnosed simply .
    I do beleive that the club would be be trying their darnest to find the reasons for it .Lets just wait and see what they find .
    Again the treatment meted out to our players is far worse than of other clubs . And I do hope that they learn to take care of themselves on and off the field ,while hopefully getting some more protection from the refs .

    rantetta @ 25th.Sept .2:57pm .- As I’ve mentioned above , we need guile and cunning to defeat our foes , as in this tale of two warring fractions !

    A large group of AAAA soldiers are moving down a road when they hear an AKB voice call from behind a sand dune. “One AKB Army soldier is better than ten AAAAs.”

    The AAAA commander quickly sends 10 of his best soldiers over the dune whereupon a gun battle breaks and continues for a few minutes, then silence.
    The voice then calls out “One AKB Army soldier is better than fifty AAAAs.”

    Furious, the AAAA commander sends his next best 50 troops over the dune and instantly a huge gunfight commences. After 10 minutes of battle, again silence.

    The AKB voice calls out again “One AKB Army soldier is better than one hundred AAAAs.”

    The enraged AAAA Commander musters one hundred of his best fighters and sends then across the dune. Gunfire, grenades, machine gun fire, rockets, etc. ring out as a huge battle is fought. Then silence.

    Eventually one wounded AAAA fighter crawls back over the dune and with his dying words tells his Commander, “Don’t send anymore men, its a trap…there’s two of them!”

  • Rupert Cook

    @Al, thanks for the kind comments. I know we don’t always agree but at least we don’t abuse each other verbally. I am very pleased with our results and wish I’d seen some of the games but where I was staying in Bulgaria the tv seemed to mainly focus on German, Bulgarian or Russian tv.

    My main worry is our propensity to pick up injuries. I think we have a decent set of youngsters considering our away win to WBA; we may need just one or two more experienced players to ensure we have a sufficient squad to steer us through a long season. To paraphrase Brain Moore, “this season is up for grabs”.

  • bjtgooner

    @Brickfields

    I enjoyed that one!!