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By Tony Attwood
On 29 September the Athletic published an Amy Lawrence article under the headline
The article makes the point that Arsenal always have problems with injuries and it tracks back ten years with the commentary from Arsene Wenger ten years ago that “We have been unlucky with injuries. What can you do about it? Not a lot.”
But what is missing, and this does seem to be becoming a habit with this writer, is any mention of the fact that injuries come and go, day by day. Let’s look at today’s list of injured players courtesy of the EPL Injury Table. And to be clear I have copied this, this morning at 8.30am on 5 October.
You might want to sit down first though, if you are a fan of the Athletic, or Amy Lawrence.
Total number of players injured as of 5 October.
- Manchester City: 2
- West Ham United: 2
- Wolverhampton Wanderers: 2
- Arsenal: 3
- Everton: 3
- Fulham: 3
- Brighton and Hove Albion: 5
- Liverpool: 5
- Luton Town: 5
- AFC Bournemouth: 6
- Burnley: 6
- Newcastle United: 6
- Brentford: 7
- Aston Villa: 8
- Manchester United: 8
- Nottingham Forest: 8
- Sheffield United: 8
- Tottenham Hotspur: 8
- Crystal Palace: 9
- Chelsea: 13
Yes indeed, Arsenal are fourth in the injury table as reported today by a site that seems to know what’s what. And in case you are interested in the massive list of three Arsenal players who are out here are the details…
Martinelli has had no update since 22 September when it was stated he was still being assessed.
Saka as we know came a cropper again in Europe. He too is currently being assessed.
Jurien Timber – well you know, he’s had surgery.
So that’s the list. But a question remains. What made Amy Lawrence write an article over which such a headline could be placed? Why comment on Arsenal’s injuries when in fact a number of the injuries at the time the article were written were clearly very short term, and it was evident that more than likely the number would be very small in a few days.
Obviously, one reason could be that no one at the Athletic thought about that. On one day the number was fairly high so an article was rushed out, hoping that no one would notice when the numbers went right down again.
Another reason could be that no one at the Athletic, including Amy Lawrence bothered to check the actual numbers and instead they just pushed through an article.
But it could also be because taking numbers out of context is a habit of Ms Lawrence – indeed in 2016 we pointed out that she had said of Mr Wenger, “He has talked to his team about being more clinical. Only Giroud (16) and Sánchez (13) managed double figures in the Premier League last season.”
That sounded truly shocking. Except when we came to look at how many double figure scorers other teams had (which is what we needed to know to see if the knocking word “only” was truly justified), we found that only Southampton had more players scoring in double figures: Southampton 3 (Mané, Pellè, Long). And only Leicester City (Vardy Mahrez), Watford (Ighalo, Deeny) and Swansea (Avew, Sigurðsson) and two players in double figures.
In short Arsenal were in the elite group of four clubs having two or more players scoring in double figures. And yet Ms Lawrence denigrated that achievement with “only”.
Now the question is why does this happen. Why take a story which is positive about Arsenal (very few injuries, more than one player scoring 10+ etc) and turn it into a negative, by removing all the facts and suggesting things are the opposite of what they are?
One possible reason is that Ms Lawrence genuinely thought that Arsenal did have more injuries – although that seems unlikely given that we seem to have found this problem with her writing before.
Another is a deliberate desire by the writer, or the publisher to knock Arsenal all the time, no matter what. Another could be laziness – she just doesn’t check the figures.
But whatever the cause, this desire to say Arsenal get lots of injuries goes back a long way, and it is thoroughly misleading. Now of course it would be good if we could find the time to check all such comments by journalists, to see exactly which ones are making errors when, and then try to see the cause, but sadly we don’t have the time or the resources.
So we are left with generalisations, such as saying, “beware any fact that Amy Lawrence offers because it might be wrong.” As for why she persistently gets the injury numbers wrong, we don’t know, but it is annoying because some people tend to believe what she says without checking, and without seeing the context. Maybe at the moment she wrote, Arsenal were juggling injuries, but Ms Lawrence should have known that the moment was likely to pass very quickly. And yet she didn’t mention that.
And that perhaps, for a professional journalist, is the most worrying aspect of it all. Not knowing the details of a situation (the number of injuries today) is one thing. But not recognising how fast these numbers change seems to be a failure to understand the whole injury situation.
And remember – that’s her job. We just write Untold Arsenal as a hobby. She gets paid.
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