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Take your mind off Barca: Untold Injury Index – Gameweek 29

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Untold Injury Index – Gameweek 29

By Dale Higginbottom

Back to a full league programme this weekend and we start what is a massive 8 days for Arsenal. With two important knock-out cup games coming up we needed to have the league campaign still in good condition before heading out to the Camp Nou, if only just to ease some pressure on our players as they face Barcelona. When it gets to games like this, at this stage of the season, having your best players fit and healthy is a huge bonus and is something we have missed in the past. So how do the figures stand this week?

Arsenal Vs Sunderland

Arsenal (7 injuries)

  • Goalkeeper – Fabianski (7)
  • Defence – Vermaelen (25)
  • Midfield – Frimpong (27), Fabregas (7), Song (2)
  • Attack – van Persie (9), Walcott (5)

Additional issues: Koscielny and Rosicky were both doubtful before the game. The former started and the latter made a late second-half appearance.

Wolves Vs Tottenham

Tottenham (6 injuries)

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  • Goalkeeper, attack – No injuries reported.
  • Defence – King (22), Kaboul (10), Woodgate (2), Corluka (3)
  • Midfield – Huddlestone (17), Van der Vaart (6)

Additional issues: Bale returned to the squad but was only fit enough to play as a second half substitute. Defoe was a doubt after his injury in training last week but played the whole game.

Liverpool Vs Man Utd

Liverpool (3 injuries)

  • Goalkeeper, midfield – No injuries reported
  • Defence – Agger (14), Kelly (1)
  • Attack – Shelvey (3)

Additional issues: Meireles and Carroll were doubts before the game but the former started and was replaced by the latter on 74 minutes. Aurelio had to be replaced replaced after 24 minutes, he was also a doubt before the game.

Man Utd (7 injuries)

  • Goalkeeper – No injuries reported.
  • Defence – Ferdinand (11), Evans (7)
  • Midfield – Valencia (25), Hargreaves (28), Park (6), Anderson (11)
  • Attack – Owen (11)

Additional issues: Evra was a doubt before the game. Nani picked up an injury just before half-time and was forced off.

Man City Vs Wigan

Man City (2 injuries)

  • Goalkeeper – Given (2)
  • Defence, attack – No injuries reported.
  • Midfield – A. Johnson (5)

Additional issues: Kompany and De Jong were both doubtful for the game however Kompany started and De Jong came on as a late substitute.

The following was written before the match was played…

Blackpool Vs Chelsea

Chelsea (2 injuries)

  • Goalkeeper, attack – No injuries reported
  • Defence – Alex (17)
  • Midfield – Benayoun (23)

Additional issues: Mikel and Luiz are reported as doubts for the game but are expected to be declared fit.

It’s interesting that the two teams with the longest crocked list are the two teams still fighting on three fronts. The four teams below us still have something to play for and so can still have an important role to play in deciding the title.

Ok, seven injuries and only a draw, that’s the long and short of it. We should really have taken three points but a goalkeeper, referee, linesman and crossbar had something to say about that. These things just happen sometimes and it’s no real indication of our attacking ability, just a tough day and one point.

That is one point more than United managed this weekend. The missing centrebacks were partly to blame, as was SAF’s bizarre decision to leave out Fletcher for Scholes, knowing that Brown and Smalling are the pairing at the back. I know a lot has been said about our defensive cover but when Dirk Kuyt can score three past you I’d be more worried to be a United fan.

Another team letting in three was our neighbours the Tiny Totts. More performances like that from their defence and St Totteringham’s day will be sooner than expected. Hopefully they’ll have nothing to play for by the time we play them in April.

City had five players return from injury this week. If that happened to us it would really boost our season, oh we can but hope. Anyway despite all these returnees they did struggle to get the win against Wigan but a 1-0 win is as good as any.

Despite only drawing against Sunderland the result at Anfield put us a point closer to United. Winning the game in hand against Spurs (they’ll love to stop us doing that) would put us level and this title could really be decided on goal difference. It’s currently in United’s favour (+33 vs. +30) but what is surprising is that our defence is actually better than United’s (27 conceded vs. 30). It therefore looks like goals scored could be a big thing to look at in the last 9/10 games of the season.

This is pretty tough to consider coming away from a 0-0 draw where we struggled to get the ball over the line (ok, except for once) but this is an area which could be vital come May 22nd. Let’s have a look at the goals scored so far.

Total Goals Scored (as of Sunday 06/03/2011)

  • Man United 63
  • Arsenal 57
  • Chelsea 48
  • Man City 45
  • Tottenham 41
  • Liverpool 39

Injuries to attack

Man United

Owen (11), Rooney (8), Berbatov (1)

Others – Valencia (25), Giggs (7), Nani (3)

Arsenal

van Persie (9), Bendtner (8), Walcott (5)

Others – Fabregas (7), Nasri (5), Rosicky (1)

Chelsea

Anelka (2), Drogba (1), Sturridge (1), Borini (1)

Others – Lampard (14), Benayoun (23), Kakuta (3)

Man City

Balotelli (14),Tchuimeni-Nimely (14). Adebayor (4), Tevez (1), Jo (1)

Others – Adam Johnson (5), Silva (2), Yaya Toure (2), Wright-Phillips (2)

Tottenham

Defoe (11), Keane (6), Pavyluchenko (1)

Others – Van der Vaart (6), Bale (4), Lennon (3)

Liverpool

Kuyt (5), Carroll (4), Babel (3), Shelvey (3), Ngog (2)

Others – Cole (8), Gerrard (5), Jovanovic (4)

Rather than simply looking at the numbers I’ve listed all the players considered as strikers or forwards and the number of matches they have missed through injury. In addition to those I’ve also listed the creative players that usually have a big impact on the goals scored figures for each of the teams.

I think you can safely say that we have had a fairly high number of injuries in these departments. The importance of these players is also quite high and when you compare like-for-like with our rivals we’re performing quite well on the goals scored tally. I’m not going to look through these numbers with a fine-tooth comb, I just wanted to include them so that you could draw your own conclusions in the comments section (yes, I’m being lazy today).

One thing I will point out is that United have had a fair few important injuries, particularly with the injury to Valencia. They top the goal scoring table which is a great effort and is a little worrying. This could still be our stumbling block as we might need to out-score United in the last quarter of the season and as long as United manage their injuries well, I can’t see them hitting much of a goal drought. With injuries already to wide players like Valencia and Park, a long injury to Nani after Carragher’s assault could mean that chances are reduced but we’ll have a bit more of an idea of that on Saturday at Old Trafford.

On a final note, the big news ahead of the Barca game is that Wilshere is fit to play. It looks like Cesc should also return and this will be extremely important as we will need to hold out Barcelona’s impressive midfield duo. As I said at the start of the piece it’s a big week and so far it’s going ok, but will ok be enough on Tuesday night?

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21 comments to Take your mind off Barca: Untold Injury Index – Gameweek 29

  • mehoot

    Yes but we have Denilson back aaarrggghhhh and no Theo for the pace – so who will inject the pace into this barcabankrupt juggernautyt?

  • Scotty RSA

    RVP THATS WHO

  • Dan

    I think the Arsenal Man U match will be the decider (unless it’s a draw). Even if by this point they are 3 points and 3 goals clear of us by this stage then a 2-0 win would see a total reversal and give us the momentum to finally win the treble! Which, btw, will make me a very wealthy man. If we win tonight i wouldn’t want to be the owner of paddypower!

  • Sammy The Snake

    Barca on my mind…

  • Phil

    Cheers for the stats Dale. I feel United’s goals may dry up personally – Berbatov’s goal stats flatter him (a lot of them came in a few games, against smaller sides. He hasn’t scored when it counts) though clearly top scorer in the EPL is something in and of itself.

    They lack creativity in midfield and with Nani out they should struggle to create chances for their strikers. Well, that’s my hope anyway!

  • goonerforfortyyears

    Remember it was in the quarters that the injury to important players hit us hard last year, and not at the 2nd round stage. Comparing the injuries is too simplistic anyway ! Why not also compare this stage last season with Utd. It simply is not quantifiable. The high injuries to Manu and Arsenal are coincidences. Last season Utd had their worst injuries closer to the start of the season. Near the start of this season we had Frimpong, Diaby, Vermaelaen, Fab, RVP, Clichy and Ramsey out at the same time. Is that not 7 also ?

    Admittedly as the games become critical Arsenal do tend to suffer more injuries. I cannot remember the last time we had even just our 1st eleven fully fit at the same time (certainly not in the last couple of seasons). Focusing on why we have a high injury list compared to other teams is a more worthwhile discussion than just giving us a load of worthless statistics.

  • Pedler

    Utter reffing disgrace!

  • tim

    add scheszcny.

  • Tone

    The ref gave us no chance with that ridculous RVP decision, not that we had much anyway.

    He must have got a call from Seb Blatter on his earpiece “time to send an Arsenal player off ref the money is in your account”.

    However if the truth be told they were miles better than us, could easliy have been 6 or 7-1 had it not been for some great saves from Almunia.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Why Why Why are we always on the end of these decisions?
    Put your house on Barca or Real winning the CL – nothing else will be allowed.

  • Johnny Deigh

    They were a lot better than us in the 1st half, just like they were in the home leg, but in the 2nd half of that home leg, they tired and we played better than them.

    The same thing was going to happen in last night’s match, they were weakening, we were starting to play a lot better, we had equalised, and were starting to look dangerous on counter attacks. We easily could have qualified with an unbiased ref. Unfortunately we didn’t get one.

  • bob

    The ref’s call was shocking to everyone, and made our wait until they tire in the second half strategy (if that really was our strategy) null and void. What troubles me is Gardiola’s comment that the reality is we didn’t string together 3 passes the entire match. Is that true? If so, that is serious. I think Cesc reinjured himself and fell way off his game; Diaby is clearly useless; why Arshavin sat is incomprehensible; playing Nasri on the wrong side, probably; and Robin not really ready. I can’t help but feel that while the ref’s call did deny the only realistic chance we had, it should not have come down to such a lack of other opportunities. I commend Sami and Jack for their heart; and, yes, Almunia too – credit where it is due. But I have to feel that there is a serious lack of skill and chemistry that is getting papered over by our sizzling passing against lesser sides. I love this team and our prospects. But we’ve got to look with a colder eye at what we now have on the field and accept that major changes – hopefully from the seemingly promising youth brigade – will be bled in and replace the, alas, chronic underachievers that are on the squad. That said, this ref should burn in hell.

  • bob

    One last bit: that Barca miscreant was caught with his hand around Robin’s throat and he was not booked. That is astonishing. I painfully feel that we didn’t deserve to win, based on performance. But the ref factor, both on the call made and the call not made with regard to Robin truly defy belief.

  • DC

    @bob,
    Ref aside, Barca were the best attacking side and probably did deserve to win. However, we might not yet be as adept at the passing game as they are (bear in mind that they’ve had over 2 decades in a VERY non-physical & soft-contact league in order to perfect their technique without much physical damage to any of their players) but that game was there for Arsene and the boys to WIN last night.
    Where we probably lost the game was not because of their mesmerising passing and inter-play (great as it was) it was down to how we defended our flanks. Barca ALWAYS make it very difficult to defend as they widen and overload their attacking third of the pitch with their wingers/midfielders and full-backs joining Xavi, Iniesta, Messi and Villa. What frustrates me is not just the red-card to RVP (that spoilt and definitely affected the outcome of the tie) but the fact that we just needed genuine pace on both of our flanks, and not just on the one, to keep their full backs and their wide midfielders/wingers honest in defence (you saw what Nasri was able to do when he got the ball). Without Walcott, Eboue or Gibbs should have played with Nasri on the flanks and Rosicky should have been dropped. Even an unfit Cesc, and Jack, would then have had more attacking impact and more options with their distribution and been able to put Barca on the back foot. With all that said, what impresses most about Barca is their coordinated closing-down of the passing channels and their work ethic to get the ball. BUT, NO TEAM on the planet, no matter how fit or great they are, can do that for 90 minutes. Had we had our full complement of 11 players, with more pace on our flanks, then they would have tired as they did in the 2nd half at the Grove and we could certainly have had our memorable triumph last night. Anyhow, c’est la vie, and i’m not at all discouraged by the performance because if everything’s equal again next year with our full squad, we can definitely beat “the best team ever”! Strength & Honour One and All!

  • DC

    No need to be too disheartened! Once we’ve overcome and triumphed over the “Anti-Arsenal corruption” in the Premiership this season, we’ll tackle the Champions League “Pro La-Liga corruption” next season as the “English Champions”!

  • bollock-chops

    As soon as we started to play and show glimmers of an upset in the second half , down to 10 men. Joke.

  • bollock-chops

    I must say that it does look like Cesc is left starry eyed against barca after all the seducing of him that has gone in in the last few yrs. I liked what he said before the game ( fuck of B Woolnough )but expected a lot more from him overall in the games we’ve played against them.

  • SuperRob

    Is there going to be a ref review of this game because I get the feeling the ref might score the lowest ever rating!

    So the bias against arsenal added to the bias for Barca equals that. Well if that red isn’t recinded and if abidal in particular isn’t punished retrospectively then I shall be pissed off. But of course that won’t happen due to the Barca worshipping that goes on in Uefa. Its like they say, we’ll ignore the diving and trying ot influence the ref and general bad sportsmanship (good sportsmanship doesn’t seem to exist in football any more. Or maybe its just in sport in general) because they play lovely pretty nice football. I can’t stand cheats and I can’t stand the hypocracy of all the Farca lovers.

  • Paul of Hants

    All i am hearing is Arsenal did not have one shot on goal,and all that stuff.If we had come away with a draw,the media would still have said Arsenal did not deserve to go through.Remember Man City at home.Not one shot on goal,totally lacked ambition,yet all the media could say “came away with a good point”.
    Off subject did anyone else hear that tosser Paul Smith of the Sunday Mirror on Skys Sunday Supplement.A total disgrace.When we win the league i will let him know about it.

  • Armin

    Hey Gooners…
    are you proud this morning?
    I am, you know why ?
    Because till last night everyone was talking about Barca as about best team in world. But last night we got proof even they cant beat us without help from referee and with equal number of players.
    If my math still is ok, in every way I calculate… it makes us The Best Team in World.

    Oh to be a Gooner

  • Gunz

    Walter! Itching to read your Ref Review of game last night. On ur Facebook page you say “it’s up on site”, but i can’t find it.

    Ref done us good and proper!!