Untold Injury Index – Gameweek 35
By Dale Higginbottom
It was the reverse fixtures of gameweek 17 this weekend and a big confidence-building game against the league leaders. After a run of frustrating draws and defeats (excluding the Blackpool game) a win at the Emirates was needed and well-overdue and to come against the title favourites. Below is Untold’s usual look at the injury lists of the big six and how the teams coped without their crocked players.
Arsenal Vs Man Utd
Arsenal (4 injuries)
- Goalkeeper – Fabianski (14)
- Defence – Vermaelen (32)
- Midfield – Diaby (17), Fabregas (9)
- Attack – No injuries reported
Additional issues: Nasri and Djourou both picked up injuries and had to be replaced in the second half.
Man Utd (3 injuries)
- Goalkeeper – Lindegaard (6)
- Defence, attack – No Injuries reported.
- Midfield – Hargreaves (34), Fletcher (6)
Additional issues: Berbatov returned to the squad after illness and came on in the second half as a substitute.
Chelsea Vs Tottenham
Chelsea (0 injuries)
- Goalkeeper, defence, midfield, attack – No injuries reported
Additional issues: Ramires, Alex and Essien were all slight doubts prior to the game but all three were included in the squad. Essien started and was replaced after 57 minutes by Ramires, Alex did not play.
Tottenham (6 injuries)
- Goalkeeper, attack – No injuries reported.
- Defence – King (28), Woodgate (8), Hutton (4), Assou-Ekotto (3)
- Midfield – Palacios (7), Huddlestone (19)
Additional issues: Corluka returned from a knock that has been troubling him since the game against AC Milan. He started the game against Chelsea but was replaced after 78 minutes.
Liverpool Vs Newcastle
Liverpool (4 injuries)
- Goalkeeper, attack – No injuries reported
- Defence – Kelly (7), Agger (18), Aurelio (12)
- Midfield – Gerrard (10)
Additional issues: Johnson and Carroll returned to the squad after injury. Johnson played the whole game whilst Carroll came on as a substitute after 69 minutes.
Man City Vs West Ham
Man City (5 injuries)
- Goalkeeper – Given (7)
- Defence – Boateng (10), Richards (11)
- Midfield – M Johnson (30)
- Attack – Tevez (4)
Additional issues: De Jong was a doubt but started the game. He was taken off at half-time as a precaution. Zabaleta picked up a last-minute knock.
Not a whole lot to report on the injury front to be honest. Spurs lead the way with six and everyone else is closely following, except Chelsea. Every team (again, other than Chelsea) are missing at least one key player but squads at this level should be deep enough to deal with that.
Interestingly enough, the injuries at this point of the season are all relatively low when compared to other weeks in the year. It would therefore seem that fatigue over the season is not a major contributing factor in injury levels. Instead, the weeks in which teams have to compete regularly twice per week have been the worst for injuries so maybe a level of short-term fatigue has a greater impact on injury risks.
Arsenal’s injuries were significantly worse than United’s, especially when you consider the injuries picked up during the game but we totally outplayed them. Even after key players needed to be replaced, we still looked sharp and hungry for a second goal. It’s the type of performance that should quieten the doubters and instil belief back in a squad whose confidence was dented in the Carling Cup Final.
United’s injury list looks very manageable but with a Champions League tie on Wednesday, that could change and based on their performance at the Emirates, they really need Fletcher back to provide at least some level of fight in midfield against Chelsea.
On to Chelsea and what better time to record zero injuries than ahead of games against Tottenham and Man United where they have a real shot of stealing the title from United. Next Sunday will be a very cagey game at first but could be very end-to-end if Chelsea need a winning goal.
The Tiny Totts need a complete defensive overhaul. Apart from the fact that they have shipped far too many goals, their defensive injuries have been something of a joke to be honest. King, Gallas, Dawson, Kaboul and Woodgate have all missed large chunks of the season through injury so it’s no wonder that they have seen so many goals fly past Gomes. In fact, in the current top-ten in the league, only Bolton have conceded more goals than Spurs so far this season and they have played one more game.
On current form City look certain for Champions League football next season. Realistically only the Totts could catch them but anything other than a win at Eastlands next Tuesday will effectively end those pipedreams.
Most of the season I’ve been wondering if the inclusion of Liverpool was actually a good decision for this study but credit to them, they’ve really turned a corner and depending what happens in the summer could be challenging for Champions League football next season. Another win this week, coupled with more dropped points by the Tiny Totts saw them move into the final European place. Given their current form and remaining games, I would be surprised if they don’t hold onto that place and how funny would it be to see the Totts down in sixth and miss out on European football completely?
The win against United was a huge boost going into the final three games and a boost ahead of next season but unfortunately for us a little bit too late for this season. I think we’re three points and 4 or 5 goals away from being a genuine title threat this season but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t care about the final three games, there’s still a lot to do. We need one more point to celebrate St Totteringham’s Day (although if they fail to beat Blackpool next Saturday, that’ll be enough) we still can steal second place if Chelsea drop points and most importantly we still need to finish third.
The lack of Champions League qualifiers this season was a massive benefit both in terms of injuries and momentum and keeping City behind us by winning at least two of our remaining fixtures should hopefully see us receive similar benefits next season. Stoke away next, hopefully they’ll have one eye on the FA Cup final and be more focussed on that than breaking legs.
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