Untold Injury Index – Gameweek 32
By Dale Higginbottom
Blackpool away was always going to be a tricky game. Played at a point in the season when their players had played considerably fewer games when taking into account Carling and FA cups, Champions League and International fixtures. With United winning the day before it was essential to claim all three points and this would’ve been made a lot easier with a reduced injury list. Was it reduced? Let’s have a look.
Blackpool Vs Arsenal
Arsenal (8 injuries)
- Goalkeeper – Fabianski (10), Szczesny (3), Almunia (18)
- Defence – Vermaelen (28), Djourou (4), Sagna (2)
- Midfield – Song (4), Denilson (7)
- Attack – No injuries reported
Additional issues: Frimpong returned to fitness, playing midweek for the reserves. He’s now in the squad from the Dallas Cup so he finally makes it off our injury list.. Ramsey and Gibbs returned to the squad, both coming on in the second half. Walcott was a doubt before the game but started on the bench and also came on as a second half substitute.
Tottenham Vs Stoke
Tottenham (7 injuries)
- Goalkeeper, attack – No injuries reported.
- Defence – King (25), Woodgate (5), Hutton (1)
- Midfield – Palacios (4), Pienaar (2), Lennon (4), Kranjcar (3)
Additional issues: Gallas started on the bench, coming on in thee 89th minute. Corluka was a doubt but played the whole game.
Man Utd Vs Fulham
Man Utd (4 injuries)
- Goalkeeper – Lindegaard (3)
- Defence – Rafael (5)
- Midfield – Hargreaves (31), Fletcher (3)
- Attack – No injuries reported.
Additional issues: Brown and O’Shea returned to the squad after injuries, O’Shea played the whole game, and Brown was an unused substitute.
Chelsea Vs Wigan
Chelsea (1 injury)
- Goalkeeper, midfield, attack – No injuries reported
- Defence – Bosingwa (10)
Additional issues: Both Alex and Benayoun returned to the Chelsea squad, both coming on in the second half.
Liverpool Vs Man City
Liverpool (5 injuries)
- Goalkeeper, attack – No injuries reported
- Defence – Kelly (4), Agger (15), Johnson (5), Kyrgiakos (2)
- Midfield – Gerrard (7)
Additional issues: Aurelio and Shelvey returned to the squad, the former starting and playing the whole game, the latter was an unused substitute.
Man City (3 injuries)
- Goalkeeper – Given (5)
- Defence – Boateng (8), Richards (9)
- Midfield, attack – No injuries reported.
Additional issues: Tevez picked up an early injury and was forced off after just 16 minutes.
Eight injuries again, that’s something to really be worried about, particularly after I reported last week that we perform pretty poorly when we have to deal with more than 7 players missing.
With arguably 4 of our first choice back 5 unavailable, Song missing and down to goalkeeper number 4, it’s a particularly great effort that we got this tough away win in the bag.
United and Spurs both came through to claim three points in their games. Spurs have further injury issues and Champions League exploits could still end up hurting their final push for fourth in the league. United on the other hand appear to be getting players back and only recorded four injuries this game. Whether or not the fixture congestion in the next two weeks will have any further impact on injuries and results remains to be seen.
In stark contrast to our list is Chelsea’s. It looked, prior to the game that absolutely no-one would be reported as injured but it seems that Bosingwa was unavailable through illness. John Terry didn’t play but he was rested for the Champions League game.
It was a fantastic win for Liverpool on Monday night. City lost Tevez to injury early in the first half and as we’ve noted throughout this season, they can’t play without him so Liverpool finished them off with relative ease. Liverpool are our next opponents so this result is a little bit of a concern, but with Gerrard out for the season I think we’ll be pretty confident of winning the midfield battle, both in the middle and on the wings.
Ok, now with the crocked list still quite long and just seven games left of the season, what would be a realistic expectation for this current list of players for the remaining games? We’re likely to still pick up more injuries in the run-in and hopefully these can be minimal but can we expect to see anyone else return in that time?
Fabianski – Out for season
Szczesny – Back in training this week and was in-line for a return by 1st May but reports this week say this could be sooner
Almunia – Injury period unknown, reported as “major doubt”
Vermaelen – Out for season
Djourou – Also back in training this week, was expected to return by 1st May but again, could return sooner
Sagna – Small knee injury, likely to return against Liverpool
Song – Small knee injury, also likely to return against Liverpool
Denilson – Toe injury that is not thought to be a major concern, should return to the squad within the next week or two.
The goalkeeping situation is a big concern at the moment since Almunia’s last minute withdrawal on Sunday however, with Szczesny close to return it may not be a big deal so long as Crazy Jens can see out the next couple of games.
By the weekend we could be back to an injury list of just 5 (Fabianski, Szczesny, Almunia, Vermaelen and Djourou) or maybe better. A week between fixtures is really helping with longer rest periods, fewer match minutes and greater tactical focus. United now have four games in eleven days, the last two of which are league fixtures. Newcastle away shortly after the cup semi-final could be dropped points and a massive boost ahead of our game in-hand against the Tiny Totts and the home game against United.
Maybe we’ll also benefit from the fact that we’ve been through a spell where players have rested having been sidelined through injury. A returning Walcott will help a tiring Nasri or Arshavin who’ve both played most of the season and Fabregas and Diaby can lift some of the pressure and workload off the shoulders of Wilshere and Song.
What is for certain is that the next two weeks will shape our season and at the moment it’s still looking quite promising and only the the World’s Greatest Pessimist would completely rule us out at this stage.
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