Untold Injury Review of the Season – Part 3, Adding Value
By Dale Higginbottom
Last time out on the Untold Injury Review I listed the total injuries and a few general observations of the totals and came to the conclusion that we were one of the worst hit this season. The following table gives the totals and a breakdown of the positions.
*Incorrectly shown as 223 in previous article, all percentages and totals now corrected
This information was all well and good however, without some indication of which players were injured we can’t truly say which team was worst hit by injuries last season. For example, all of Chelsea’s 124 injuries could have been to players like Lampard, Terry and Drogba and all of Tottenham’s could’ve been to the likes of Jenas, dos Santos and Keane.
For this analysis I am going to delve a little deeper and try to put some value into the injuries. The idea behind this is that an injury to Denilson has much less of an impact on the squad and performances than an injury to Fabregas. Obviously I cannot say precisely how much less so I’ll have to make a few assumptions.
I have decided to group players in blocks of approximately 6 players. I initially thought to give 1st team players a value of 1 and the rest a value of 0.5. This would be a reasonable way of separating out the most important players but to value an injury to Rooney twice as much as an injury to say Bebe or more obviously, valuing Arshavin and Frimpong with the same injury multiplier seems quite bizarre. Instead therefore I decided on the following scale.
|5 Stars||1.25||Fabregas, van Persie, Nasri, Vermaelen, Song|
|1st Team||1||Fabianski, Sagna, Koscielny, Clichy, Wilshere, Walcott|
|Typical Bench||0.75||Szczesny, Djourou, Eboue, Ramsey, Diaby, Arshavin, Chamakh|
|The Rest||0.5||Almunia, Squillaci, Gibbs, Denilson, Bendtner etc|
Now, let me try to explain the decisions around these and how I decided who should go in each category. Firstly, I started with the first choice starting eleven. I based these to some degree on the “Most Used Eleven” from Whoscored.com and factored in players that were unusually omitted and players that would otherwise been included in this eleven but for injuries and suspensions.
The star players were decided upon by a similar method, firstly using the average ratings provided on Whoscored.com but also taking into consideration the injuries suffered this season.
It was a similar thing for the typical bench category as I chose players that played the most games or were most-likely to be chosen for the subs bench (factoring in injuries and suspensions) but with the bench I also went for a typical set-up on 1 goalkeeper, 1 centre-back, 1 full-back, 1 centre-midfielder, 1 wide midfielder/winger, 1 striker and 1 “other”.
I understand and admit that this is method never going to be perfect, as it’s not ideal to give players such an arbitrary value, especially in one of only four categories. However, alternatives would be extremely time-consuming and would require a lengthy fan survey into player importance ranking and some sort of sliding-scaled value system, something which I’d have no idea where to start.
So anyway, these are the classifications and below are tables for each squad.
|GK||Fabianski||Van der Sar*||Cech|
|MF/FW||Silva*||Kuyt*||Van der Vaart*|
Nb. Transfers in January impacted the line-ups halfway through the season however only really in the case of in the case of Liverpool and Chelsea. Suarez replaced Maxi and Carroll replaced Torres whilst Torres replaced Sturridge who moved to Bolton on loan.
So, from the tables above players with a * get an x1.25 multiplier, other first team players get x1, the substitutes get x0.75 and any player not listed gets x0.5. These value adjustments were then fed directly into the super-computer at Untold Towers and the resulting print-outs gave the following totals.
I think this, when compared to the table at the top of this page, really shows something interesting. Arsenal and Tottenham had very similar total injuries last season (just one number in it), yet using these values we can say that the Tiny Totts suffered an injury level 5% worse than us. We can certainly now see why Tottenham couldn’t maintain their Champions League status, a high number of injuries to high profile players, largely I believe due to an increase in the number of important fixtures during the season.
Maybe the fortunes of our neighbours really goes some way to emphasise just how much of a great job Arsène Wenger has done over the years in maintaining our Champions League status in spite of this season’s injury levels and the similar (if not worse) levels we’ve seen over previous seasons. Likewise we can see that, whilst finishing fourth was a disappointing end to the season, given the injuries suffered by the two teams just above us in the league we did pretty well to be just a few points behind. Maybe if Chelsea and City had a few more injuries to key players then they would’ve dropped a few more points last season. Similarly United had a somewhat of an easier time of it compared to us and they too could’ve dropped a couple more points had they been in our injury position.
Overall I think we can say that these value adjustments have not had a massive impact on how the teams line-up i.e. the teams with the highest totals still have the highest injury values but it is interesting to see how Man United now compare to Liverpool and Arsenal. It seems that whilst United had a high total, the players that were missing were not quite as important as those missing for Arsenal or Liverpool, allowing the gap to grow (in percentage terms) between Arsenal and United and shrink between United and Liverpool.
The next table matches one that was in the last article
|Team Total||Per Game Average||Lowest Week Score||Highest Week Score|
This average is not quite as easy to interpret as in the previous article but Arsenal’s 4.89 average is roughly the equivalent of for example, 2 star players, 1 other 1st XI player, 1 regular substitute player and 1 fringe player. So, an example of this would be being without Vermaelen, Fabregas, Fabianski, Diaby and Gibbs. Don’t forget this is an average, this is what we have had to put up with all season.
Also, by looking at this table I think we can say that we’ve consistently been the worst hit on the injury front. Our lowest injury value being 2.25 (the equivalent of 1 star and 1 other first team player) and we’ve come pretty close to having the worst week, just 0.5 behind the 9 value of Spurs. One this that particularly struck me about this was that Chelsea’s average injury value is only slightly above our best ever week. With an aging squad I find it pretty amazing that Chelsea can get through a season relatively unscathed. Maybe it had something to do with Ancelotti’s links to Milan and the Milan Lab training techniques, I’m not too sure but if that is the case, we could see very different outcomes under and new coach next season
One final thing, using the injury values I’ve put together, I just want to show you Arsenal’s five worst games.
|Worst Games||Opponent||Injury Value||Result|
|GW30||West Brom (A)||8.5||D|
|GW37||Aston Villa (H)||7.5||L|
That’s five points from fifteen, certainly not what we’d be expecting from those fixtures and much less than the 8.9 points we’ve averaged every five games for the season. I think it really shows just how much injuries impact performance. Yes, other issues such as poor refereeing has played its part in some of these games (I’m thinking about the Sunderland game in particular) but, if we are going to have a chance of winning in spite of poor refereeing we need to have few injuries and be playing well. The same also goes for the reverse; if we’re to win games when we’re particularly hit by injuries then we really need to be playing against 11 men, not 12.
Now, I’ve still got numbers coming out of my ears so I’ll be back with more injury delights soon. Next time I think we’ll look deeper into injuries to first team and star players.
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Untold Arsenal – the index
Making the Arsenal – one of only two novels ever published focussing on Arsenal FC
- Everton v Arsenal: Injuries, points needed for 4th, and Arsenal the first to 100?
- Everton v Arsenal: extraordinary figures seen in the last 6 games table
- Everton v Arsenal: how this referee treats the home and away team
- Everton v Arsenal and the oddity of referee behaviour
- With Balogun will Arsenal be heading toward goalscoring records