How Arsenal arecoping with being tackled all the time



By Tony Attwood

Back in 2014 Untold Arsenal ran a series of articles on injuries by Walter Broeckx.  It was a major piece of research across 13 articles and you can find links to the whole series by going to our search button on the right and typing in Untold Injury Records.   (Unfortunately, the series was published prior to our change of website address from which is why other methods of finding the series don’t work).

That series concluded that Arsenal suffered more bad contact injuries than other clubs.  But not just that.  Wherever one looked we got more problems: shoulder injuries, thigh muscles – they were all higher (and as Walter pointed out at the time, shoulder injuries don’t happen because of the misuse of one’s own shoulder!)

And thinking back to that superb series I wondered how Arsenal were doing now, and so turned to Premier Injuries, which we have often quoted during the seasons to compare Arsenal’s situation with others.

Arsenal currently have five injuries: Vieira, Trossard, Tomiyasu, Saliba, Elneny.  That’s more than any other team except Brighton who also have five injuries reported.   But does that mean we are still in the bad days of Arsenal players getting crocked all the time?

Actually no, for thankfully the Athletic has ploughed through the Premier Injuries data week by week.   The most injuries suffered by a club was Chelsea with 48 separate injury events.  This compares with Arsenal on 22.  Bottom of the table was Fulham on 19.   Manchester City were mid-table with 27.

But the Athletic add that “When it comes to injuries per 1,000 minutes, it was West Ham United, who played 57 games across four competitions… who had the least with just 4.6 injuries per 1,000 minutes played. Fulham and Wolves were tied for next best (4.8) with Arsenal (5.0) and Manchester City (5.2) completing the top five.”

Now the mention of West Ham is interesting, because if you are a regular reader you will recall that just two articles ago I wrote, “West Ham get fouled fewer times than any other club – except this last season when West Ham were the 19th most fouled club in the league.”

So Arsenal get 5.0 injuries per 1000 minutes while “Chelsea suffered 10.7 injuries per 1,000 minutes. The next-most-afflicted teams were Newcastle (9.4) and Nottingham Forest (9.1)” (the Athletic).

Now we are seeing an interesting combination of factors.  West Ham are 19th in the list of clubs measured by the number of fouls they suffer.  West Ham are 19th in terms of the number of days lost through injuries. 

The link is not perfect, for Manchester City are 13th in terms of the number of fouls against, but are bottom with the days lost through injury.  But there is a suggestion that the two are linked – indeed as we would expect. And it is notable that the first thing that Mikel Arteta did was to look at the tackles, fouls and yellow card data at Arsenal.

Fouls against Arsenal throughout each season

Season Fouls against Pos in “fouls against” league
2022/23 433 4th
2021/22 357 12th
2020/21 399 9th
2019/20 437 4th
2018/19 456 1st


One explanation for those figures is that back in 2018/19 Arsenal were themselves doing a lot of tackling and were not moving the ball on so quickly as they are now.   Hence the drop to 12th in 2021/22.  But last season with Arsenal winning and winning, opposition sides were chopping Arsenal players down in desperation – there was nothing else they could do.

Yet if we look at this last season Manchester City were fouled 383 times.  Arsenal were fouled 433 times.  One reason might be that referees are less keen on blowing for a tackle on Arsenal, but another could be that Manchester City simply pass the ball even more quickly, making it harder for the opposition (in that tackling a player who hasn’t got the ball is much more likely to be a red card offence).   That could well be a driving force behind which players are being brought in this summer.

Of course it is with situations like this that Manchester City, being part of a large group of clubs that share data and information, have a huge advantage over all other teams.  As The Athletic says, the Manchester City system of analyzing how players fare in terms of injury “has been tested by other sides in the City Football Group stable, starting with Lommel of Belgium’s second division.”

According to the Athletic, who quote as the source (although I’m blowed if I can find the data there), “Chelsea had by far the least consistent starting line-up of all 20 clubs, coming out at just 67.9 per cent in their STABLE metric (Similarity of Teams And Balance of Lineups across Every match). Manchester City were next-lowest, but in their case it was because manager Pep Guardiola was able to rotate so much due to having most of his squad fit and available.”

So Arsenal’s purchasing looks like a further copying of the Manchester City model.  Forget the consistent line up: keep changing the players round so that when injuries come, they don’t disrupt the team so much.

One Reply to “How Arsenal arecoping with being tackled all the time”

  1. Refs allow teams to kick Arsenal and VAR are crooked. The facts were there last year that if it wasn’t for the two major ref errors and the two major VAR errors Arsenal wouldn’t have lost the league by just 5 points. In fact they would have won the league with at least a game in hand!

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