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Which PL clubs were most affected by injuries last season: you might be surprised.

by Tony Attwood

Suggesting that Arsenal has the most injuries each season of any Premier League squad still happens, but it is on the wane – maybe, just maybe, because we’ve been pointing out how wrong these figures are for years.

Raymond Verheijen, a man utterly unqualified in the world of injury prevention and treatment but top of the list when it comes to Wenger-bashing seems to have gone quiet on that front, and in April this year turned his attention on Liverpool saying, he believed Klopp’s high-energy pressing style will come back to haunt him as the season goes on.   “Because of Klopp’s intense training and playing style, it’s very likely the Liverpool players will struggle in the last months of this season,” Verheijen said.  With Arsenal he blamed the the “old school” approach of Wenger,   We know he was wrong over Wenger.  But how has his prediction panned out with Klopp?

Curiously only a couple of papers covered this issue.  Yet when he slammed Wenger he got headline coverage every time.  Odd that.

Stewart Robson likewise has gone quiet. He can still pop up Wenger bashing on TalkSprout and Danny Baker seems happy to give him free reign with half hour long interviews, never once saying, “hang on, these figures are different from everyone else’s” when he quotes the number of injuries.  But even on his home territory he seems to have given up the fight.

So I thought I would do a count, not just of Arsenal injuries but also of other clubs.  Then I had second thoughts and felt it best to use other people’s counts.  That idea sat on the back burner until yesterday when in the debate about Tottenham’s lack of transfers on this site yesterday (a remarkable civilised debate and it is worth reading the comments if you have a moment and haven’t done so) raised the issue as one commentator said that Tottenham suffered particularly last season.

But as always injury measurement is a problem – as we have seen week after week as we cover them prior to each match.  Players we know are injured are not listed.  Players who are listed as injured, then play.

So I took three separate lists and decided to compare them.  The first two are from Physioroom and give us the total number of injuries that lasted two weeks or more, and then how many injuries all told were found to have occurred in the season.

The third column – the total number of days lost – I couldn’t find from Physioroom so I took what I believe is Physioroom data that appeared in the Daily Star.  Not the best source, but I am using that column as a comparison, and it gives interestingly similar results.

To make the comparisons easier the top five in each column are highlighted in bold, and the bottom five are highlighted in red.

So at once we can see that Burnley had a very low number of longer term injuries, the lowest total for all injuries and the second lowest for days lost and they come third in the 14+ days list.  Clearly they have hardly been affected.

Club Total injuries 14 days+ Pos Total injuries (all) Pos Days lost Pos
Arsenal  24 7 71 15 1573 11
Bournemouth 27 14 52 10 1163 10
Burnley 17 3 35 1 822 2
Chelsea 12 2 46 6 877 3
Crystal Palace 36 18 67 14 1857 17
Hull 28 15 41 3 2289 20
Everton 25 11 49 8 1618 12
Leicester 19 4 44 4 885 4
Liverpool 32 17 81 18 1840 15
Man City 24 9 51 9 1153 8
Man United 26 13 75 16 1262 9
Middlesbrough 29 16 48 7 1065 7
Southampton 20 6 52 10 1655 14
Stoke 24 7 60 13 1624 13
Sunderland 39 19 85 20 2265 19
Swansea 25 10 44 4 991 5
Tottenham 19 4 55 12 1029 6
Watford 25 11 77 17 1852 16
West Brom 11 1 36 2 203 1
West Ham 42 20 82 19 2191 18

However before noting other teams, we must remember that these figures do not take into account the nature of the player – only that he is injured.   So it is possible to have a very low number of injuries etc, but if those injuries are all in the same position, then you can have a problem.  Or to have a high number of injuries but most of them are to squad players.

Imagine a team that has just one key striker like Lukaku at Everton.  Take him out and not have a ready replacement, and that one single injury causes problems far beyond what the numbers show.

Likewise one could spend a year trying to find a replacement for Santi Cazorla and not come up with one.  As for finding one who was available – well, it could take forever, so his injury is even more keenly felt.

(Also I felt the need for the syndrome where you know all the details of your own club (and thus feel there are lots of injuries), but few of the statistics for other clubs and so make the assumption your club is worse off.   “Negative familiarity” is the best I’ve got so far.)

Injuries come for many reasons: pure chance, being rushed back too quickly from the previous injury, deliberate targeting by the opposition, playing the long ball game and hoofing up the pitch (reduces the number of one on one encounters), the unwillingness of referees to punish the opposition…   But overall when making predictions about the next season, one can look at the clubs in bold and wonder how they will get on if the randomness of injuries were to fall more seriously on them, than they did last year.  Do they have the squad to cope?

The teams that came out of the injury tables very well over all with two or three top five spots are… Burnley, Chelsea, Leicester, Swansea and West Brom.   I suspect Chelsea will have sufficient strength in depth to see through anything but the most targeted injury crisis, but for the rest any sort of injury crisis could affect them considerably.

The teams that really need to look at what is causing their problems are Palace, Liverpool, Sunderland Watford and West Ham.

The big warning is for clubs with small squads who are getting few injuries – they are getting away with a spot of luck I think.

Arsenal, as I have been saying for years, are mid-table.  The story about Arsenal injuries being the worst was either made up, or as we saw from the last analysis of figures, based on false figures (you may remember Jenkinson being added into the Arsenal figures even though he was loaned to West Ham, and some figures counting more than 52 weeks in a year.)

One final point: clubs with strong humanitarian tendencies who stick with players who are injured rather than just dump them on the scrap heap, are of course punished in these tables.  Arsenal’s figures were this season affected by Santi Cazorla.  Previously they were affected by Abou Diaby being on the books.

But let me point out a positive on this: the way the club treats injured players is noticed by other players, and everyone knows they are one Shawcross away from being crippled.  Diaby did not take up a place on the 25 list during his long spell out injured, in the sense that in those years we didn’t register 25 players for the list, but the club was humane and understanding.  Some supporters noticed – and a lot of players noticed.

If you just count number of days lost, then positions can change when a club opts to show its human side, or is simply caught with a player who is long term injured but is also on a long contract, which is why that lost column, which looks like it ought to be the main one to focus on, is perhaps the most misleading.

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7 comments to Which PL clubs were most affected by injuries last season: you might be surprised.

  • Mandy Dodd

    An interesting read.
    As for Arsenal, there is continued investment behind the scenes in terms of facilities and staff which will hopefully help reduce the injuries we do get.
    Not going to question the stats here, but I have always had the perception at least that our players do suffer more than most, especially our young developing players, not because Wenger is old school, but because they are encouraged to play a brand of football that is not encouraged in our shitkicking league where the PGMOL seem to be on on some sort of agenda.
    It seems that many , if not all the aggressive teams do well in terms of lack of injuries, as do some who don’t play in Europe. Chelsea intrigue me, they always seem to get a fair wind on the injury front, Tottenham are doing better than they used to, I would class both as fairly aggressive teams who can be at times indulged by the PGMOL. Leicester are another one, FIF has some very interesting views on how they won the league pretty much injury free, but they seem to be getting the same fortune, but they are still a long ball, low possession team, as we witnessed in our recent game where it took us until the latter stages to break them down.

  • Josif

    @Mandy

    Tottenham have gone 80 league games without a red card. That’s ridiculous, insane and completely inexplicable given that there have been “post hoc” suspensions of their players (Alli, Dembele, Sissoko) during that period. Their last red card in the league happened in their 36th match of 2014-15 campaign.

    80 games without a red card!?

    As for Leicester, the amount of penalties not given to their opponents and subsequently red card not issued for Leicester players for preventing clear goal-scoring opportunities, penalties given for them after diving by either Vardy or Mahrez and the media reluctance to take those factors into account for the sake of multi-billion business that is Premier League football will probably make a good read one day. I still hope that Arsenal have won their fourteenth title already without knowing it.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Agree on all counts Josif.
    Remember watching that Chelsea Spurs game at the end of last season, just knowing the ref wasn’t going to send any of them off, no matter what they did.
    Then, at the Lane, Dier , already on a yellow, hauling one of our players down, rugby style, right in front of the ref.
    There is something rotten in our game, and the teams who buy into it thrive. Might take a while, but convinced things will come out in the wash, after all, most thought Lance Armstrong was untouchable, he certainly did.

  • SamuelAkinsolaAdebosin

    Hmmm, to think of it, must Spurs players be red carded? NO! They shouldn’t but save if they’ve committed red card offences. However, the evidence on ground in the last 2 seasons of Spurs PL campaigns arjugde many red card offences were committed by Spurs and were not called by the Pgmol referee officials in the discharge of their duties and functions as they refereed Spurs PL matches which has given rise to the insunuations that Spurs had had undue advantage in referees lack of calling Spurs red card offences in the Premier League for the past 2 seasons. And this has accounted for many points they’ve unfairly gained as against Arsenal who have had undue disadvantage in the referring of their PL matches in the 2 past campaigns which has accounted for the lost of many points they would have gained.

    On the media painting Arsenal as the club that suffers the highest number of seasonal injuries, even if Arsenal does which of course they don’t as the stats and figures made available have negate this media claims and those made by some self aclaimed injury specialists. The injuries suffered by some Gunners overtime can’t alone be said to be responsible for the many many points Arsenal have lost in their past previous PL campaigns. But the Pgmol in their agenda to make sure Arsenal lost PL points consistently in past seasons has culminated to Arsenal failure to win the PL title on many occasions in the last 13 seasons they’ve not won it.

  • OlegYch

    Three years running the champion has very little injuries. I suspect the next season will be no different.

  • timo

    we tend to lose good players to injury than any other team. we need to dig some injury history of our most affected players and against which teams we lost them. Walcott at Spurs, Wilshere at old Trafford, Ramsey at Stoke, Diaby???

  • Jammy J

    The tackle which effectively ended Diabys career, was at Sunderland.

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