Taking a positive out of the draw with Southampton


Arsenal v Southampton: the aftermath

By Tony Attwood

We normally put a couple of links at the top of each article relating back to earlier pieces on a similar theme – or simply just to the last two articles, and yet nothing really comes to mind as appropriate.   After such a brilliant run of seven league wins on the trot, with a goal-scoring total of 23 goals scored and seven against, we have come to three draws in a row, in games we might have expected to win.

How?  Why?  

Well, as you will know if you are a regular reader, the dip, not just in one game but a series of games is what Arsenal have been doing.   And the only explanations that can be offered are nervousness (the players know they were in a dip), injuries and illness (certainly the case last night), and a sense of entitlement which backfires.

We’ve carried quite a few articles on the dips, and the one thing we can be sure of is that there is this tendency for one poor result to be followed by another.  We’ve given the examples so often I don’t really want to go through them all again – all you need to do is look at the results in recent seasons – and instantly spot the fact that games in which the club underachieves come in groups.

It is down to the psychologists and social-psychologists at the club, first to stop the players falling into the trap of allowing one bad result to be followed by another, and to set the scene for a return to confidence.  But sometimes, when a downturn can be expressed in terms of injuries to key players it can be hard to escape the trap.

But can all this be blamed on injuries?

One way to consider is is the number of days missed through injury to first-team players this season, on a club-by-club basis.   It is a complex piece of analysis, which is why of course a) we don’t do it (we really don’t have the time as it needs someone trawling through all the club data on injuries prior to every single match) and b) the media don’t publish it.  Above all, the media love simplicity.

But the Times newspaper did produce just such as chart of Premier League games missed through injury approximately one month ago, and what we’ve now done is added to it the league position of the clubs.   So it is not 100% accurate (being one month old) but is the best data we can get.  And it is really interesting (well, for me at least, even if for no one else)


Pos in League Team Pts Games missed through injury Pos in injury table
1 Arsenal 75 79 7
2 Manchester City 70 49 2
3 Manchester United 59 106 13
4 Newcastle United 56 122 18
5 Tottenham Hotspur 53 78 6
6 Aston Villa 50 63 3
7 Brighton and Hove Albion 49 46 1
8 Liverpool 47 162 20
9 Brentford 43 94 9
10 Fulham 42 70 5
11 Chelsea 39 124 19
12 Crystal Palace 36 97 10
13 Wolverhampton Wanderers 34 108 14
14 AFC Bournemouth 33 116 15
15 West Ham United 31 63 4
16 Leeds United 29 104 12
17 Everton 27 97 10
18 Nottingham Forest 27 120 17
19 Leicester City 25 103 11
20 Southampton 24 83 8

There is of course no direct link between the number of days with first-team players out, and the position in the league, but there is a tendency for the clubs further down the league to have had more player-days lost through injury than those higher-up the league.

For example if we take the ten clubs that have had the most player days lost through injury (that is the clubs from position 11 to 20 in the final column), we find that only two of them are in the top ten places in the league.

Now this is where it gets complicated because of the problems of cause and effect.  In the most simplistic terms, are the injuries causing the clubs to slip down the league, or is it that clubs that are lower in the league, also the clubs that play in a way that deliver more injuries?

To find out a bit more about this we would need to add in the number of tackles that various clubs make since tackles are the primary cause of injury.  Now that set of data is available to us from the Premier League but of course, it takes time to pull all this data together and make it meaningful, so I am going to leave that for later.

But I will come back to this shortly, to compare the impact of tackles, games missed through injury, and position in the league.   However here is a taster.  Leeds United, Chelsea and Southampton put in more tackles than any other club.   They are 16th, 11th and 20th in the league respectively, which suggests there is a link between these various factors, and once again it appears (at least this far) that laying off tackling (which is the approach that Aretea brought in) is a very good move.

2 Replies to “Taking a positive out of the draw with Southampton”

  1. How about this…we were down 1-3 and came back for a draw. The boys never gave up.

  2. Must admit, had the perception that City get very few injuries, this confirms. And their key players , Harland and KDB have hardly been injured at all this season, that is not the case with Arsenal, to our cost.
    Maybe City are protected by Manchester refs, well coached, or have excellent physios and medics.
    And will take whatever Brighton are on

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