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The Untold Injury Index 23 March

Untold Injury Index – Gameweek 30

By Dale Higginbottom

It has been said that a week is a long time in politics, well, two weeks is certainly a long time in football injuries. It’s been two weeks since the last injury update and we’ve had a lot of players pick up knocks and niggles.

Just this week we’ve heard of Vermaelen’s fate for the season and that Djourou may or may not play at all in the remaining games and it seems that if we’re going to win this league, it’s going to be done the hard way.

Given that the past couple of weeks has been tough for Arsenal players, staff and fans alike, it was important that the team could get a positive result and put the focus back on league ambitions. I was not the ideal result against West Brom by any means, but given the squad injury situation, it’s not entirely the worst case scenario just yet. Here’s the reason why…

West Brom Vs Arsenal

Arsenal (9 injuries)

  • Goalkeeper – Fabianski (8), Szczesny (1)
  • Defence – Vermaelen (26), Djourou (2)
  • Midfield – Frimpong (28), Fabregas (8), Song (3), Diaby (15)
  • Attack – Walcott (6)

Additional issues: No additional issues reported.

Tottenham Vs West Ham

Tottenham (5 injuries)

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  • Goalkeeper, attack – No injuries reported.
  • Defence – King (23), Kaboul (11), Woodgate (3)
  • Midfield – Huddlestone (18), Palacios (2)

Additional issues: Bale was fit to make his first start in 2 months, playing the whole game and Gallas also played 90 minutes despite being doubtful for the game.

Sunderland Vs Liverpool

Liverpool (4 injuries)

  • Goalkeeper – No injuries reported
  • Defence – Kelly (2), Aurelio (9)
  • Midfield – Gerrard (6)
  • Attack – Shelvey (4)

Additional issues: Agger was a doubt but started and played the full game. Suarez played 89 minutes and looked to pick up an injury so was replaced.

Man Utd Vs Bolton

Man Utd (8 injuries)

  • Goalkeeper – Lindegaard (1)
  • Defence – Ferdinand (12), Vidic (1), O’Shea (6), Rafael (3)
  • Midfield – Hargreaves (29), Anderson (12), Fletcher (1)
  • Attack – No injuries reported.

Additional issues: Evans was a doubt for the game but was fit enough to start and probably would’ve played the whole game had he not been sent off. Park has been out for a while and returned to the squad as an unused substitute. Brown was replaced at half-time after picking up an injury.

Chelsea Vs Man City

Chelsea (2 injuries)

  • Goalkeeper, attack – No injuries reported
  • Defence – Alex (18)
  • Midfield – Benayoun (24)

Additional issues: No additional issues reported.

Man City (2 injuries)

  • Goalkeeper – Given (3)
  • Defence, midfield – No injuries reported.
  • Attack – Tevez (2)

Additional issues: No additional issues reported.

We’re definitely one of the hardest-hit on the injury front, it’s a toss up between us and United as to who is in the worst position. Both teams struggled to get the wins at the weekend due to injury-hit squads and rotation and whilst United managed to get a late winner, they did have a home advantage and might not be quite so fortunate next time. I’m not too worried by our result, considering the players soon to return we can be very hopeful of a late spurt of victories that will see us lift the trophy in May.

The big game of the weekend was the battle for third on Sunday with Chelsea hosting Man City. Now that City have just the FA Cup to play for it is essential for them, considering the money spent, that they maintain a top four place. Having been there for the past few weeks, City would’ve wanted to hold onto third spot (and therefore avoid Champions League Qualifying Rounds). This defeat however, along with other recent performances, might be enough to see them fade away and further defeats against Liverpool and Tottenham might be enough to see them fail in their Champions League quest.

Chelsea actually do have a slim, outside chance of the title with their win on Sunday. The hope for Arsenal fans is that they will continue to believe this and can take points off United at Old Trafford. Unless we both slip up (which isn’t too unrealistic to believe) it’s still a two-horse race for me.

Liverpool and Spurs continue to prop up the rest, chasing now for European football next season. There are no major injury issues for either squad but given that Liverpool only have league fixtures to contend with, I wouldn’t be surprised if the skip past the Tiny Totts for 5th.

Back to our game and sometimes you just get those teams that are your bogey teams. This season it seems that Newcastle, Sunderland and West Brom are those teams for us this season. Maybe it’s the vertical stripes, I don’t know but I see this nothing more than a blip.

Some of the Anti-Arsenal Arsenal blogs are surely again asking for Wenger’s head, saying for the umpteenth time, that he should’ve bought a goalkeeper/centre-back/defensive midfielder. Personally, I look at the situation and see that we have our third choice goalkeeper, third and fourth choice centre-backs and, given Diaby’s injury, maybe third choice defensive midfielder in a game away from home against a team fighting for Premier League survival.

Whether or not players should’ve been bought in January is not really the issue. We still have players to play in all positions and the expectation that some of the currently injured players will return shortly. Wenger could’ve bought a player to come into defence but what would’ve happened if Vermaelen had returned? Would he have spent £20-30m on a player, like a Cahill or Jagielka not guaranteed to start when other players return or buy a 22-25 year old as competition for our first three or maybe get a younger player (oh, wait we’ve got plenty of them). So, really there was not real option to buy other than spend big money, we don’t have and hope it works out. There is a fine line to walk between too many and too few players but this time I think we might fall in the Goldilocks “just right” bracket.

There is the slight feeling of déjà vu at the moment thinking back to a similar time last year but I do feel that this year is different. Last year we had a tough away game at Birmingham that was that start of a bad run of results.

Date Competition Opponent Result
Sat 27 March EPL Birmingham City (A) 1-1 (D)
Wed 31 March UEFA CL Barcelona (H) 2-2 (D)
Sat 3 April EPL Wolverhampton W (H) 1-0 (W)
Tue 6 April UEFA CL Barcelona (A) 4-1 (L)
Wed 14 April EPL Tottenham Hotspur (A) 2-1 (L)
Sun 18 April EPL Wigan Athletic (A) 3-1 (L)
Sat 24 April EPL Manchester City (H) 0-0 (D)
Mon 3 May EPL Blackburn Rovers (A) 2-1 (L)

These were the fixtures that were heavily impacted by injuries last season. I recommend that you check through the match reports on Arsenal.com just to remind yourself of who we had to make-do without during these games. At times during this run of games we had Vermaelen, Gallas, Song, Fabregas, Almunia, van Persie and Arshavin all missing or not fully fit and we struggled to get the wins, even the one win in that list was a last minute Bendtner header.

So, is history repeating? Are we about to head into a run of defeats that will end our title challenge and our season? Personally, I don’t think so and here’s why.

From this point in the year we played nine more games ’til the end of the season and because of the World Cup the season ended on 9th May. This year we have a season end date of 22nd, almost two weeks later and the same number of fixtures. There won’t be the added pressure of getting players back for a tough Champions League tie in mid-week or ensuring that players are switched-on an focussed on the game in-hand. One goal, nine games, nine weeks.

One last thing I ask of you Gooners is not to get too angry, disheartened or upset by dropped points against so-called weaker opposition. The Blackpool’s, West Brom’s and Wigan’s of this world have played considerably fewer games than us and our title rivals. Their fresher legs are going to pull out the occasional shock, particularly this far into the season and given that their fighting for league survival they are not going to give up easily. Injuries are still going to have an impact for the rest of the season but we do have the squad to cope, just keep the faith a little.

11 comments to The Untold Injury Index 23 March

  • walter

    If we can get Song-Cesc and Theo back in the next weeks and keep them fit I think we have it all in our hands.
    And if Szczesny and Djourou also would return, would be great.

  • menace

    You are absolutely right in your summation.

    Wenger has been very unfortunate with the number of injuries to key players at key moments of the season. He has however, got a decent squad of quality to support the team. His choice of formation is not always the best but it is his call and so far he is invincible.

    I still think that there are aspects of football that he has coached out of his players. The most obvious is the shooting from distance which is such an important alternative to passing the ball into the net. Players like Denilson, Rosicky, Abu Diaby, Ramsey, Nasri and Van Persie have lost some of their edge because of the passing where a shot properly controlled would result in a goal. These players are all capable of quality from distance with the right coaching. Teams would then have to reconsider their format for defending and will always be on the back foot allowing us the window that is so important to unlock a defence.

    In my view a professional footballer should not miss the goal when shooting. It is a fundamental of football to be able to shoot with accuracy. A fine of £1000 for charity when the ball misses the goal by more than a few inches will ensure players practice their football skills rather than their social ones.

    It is also my view that this season has exposed the bias in refereeing but has had very little reaction from the monopoly media and the mentally corrupt FA.

  • JohnW

    I’m not worried one bit. I think the two dropped points at West Brom will be reclaimed next week because I think ManU will draw with Westham. But even then. some of our fans will say, we should have taken advantage.

  • mike_greece

    @ JohnW
    … and of course they would be right. Because, in case you haven’t noticed, WE are the ones who are chasing, WE are the ones who have a gap to close (5 points with a game in hand). So, we need to win where the others drop points, not the other way around.

  • swikrath

    To make things Bendtner is injured now:( and his season could well be over. Lets hope RvP and Chamakh stays fit for the remaining games

  • burtsagooner

    @swikrath
    Where did you hear that? Shame if its true could well be the last we see him in the red n white.

  • Daniel Marino

    Well and good. Foreget the fixture, for us to win we must believe to the last minute and fight on.

    The problem with our players is some quick to give up. Let we compare:

    Fighters

    Cesc, Alex, Segna, Koscily, Dejour, Teo (70%), Jack, Vanpersie(80% temper), Nasri (80% with out Cesc and Alex), Arshavin (60% without cesc and Nasri).

    Sleepers.

    Shamakh (negative fighter) fight at a wrong end but good. Bendetner waster of goals he is luck player no skill, Dennilson, Diaby sleep well and do not recognise their team mates. You can see anger and unhappines in runnung around.

    Now the problem is
    1. who do you mix with
    2. does Arsen undersstand this.

    The solution is, on the remaining games we must have atleast two wingers teo and Villa to streach the defense well to each side alowing a possition to the attacking midfielders like Nasri, Cesc, Vanpersie , and goal Bendtner, or goal poster shamak.

    who will address this issue is vital and if this is resolved we definately win the cup without a shadow of a doubt. Gooner for ever

  • walter

    About Bendtner: I’ve just seen some pictures on Danish website and he could still walk on his ankle. I am not a doctor but I think it didn’t look to be that bad.

  • Lanre

    Heard wenger got injured while chasing a ball with Mad Jens. Also heard it is a season ending too.

  • Lanre – I heard that because the building work on the Emirates was skimped to save money to pay for Henry’s salary, part of the pitch has collapsed and is having to be repaired. This is costing us £40m which was going to be used for a summer transfer spending spree. As a result Cesc is being sold to Barca for a knock down price. And all because Mr Wenger said that his brother in law in France could do the building work and grass laying at a cut price rate.

  • Lanre

    Nice one Tony. Long time. Sources reaching me that some who looked like the barca president was seen at the emirates (what was that word used? eh.. begging wenger to save his ***). I have a suggestion Tony. Why dont you open up a topic where we can all tell what we heard