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Does getting kicked unpunished results in more injuries? Untold shows the numbers

By Walter Broeckx


In my previous articles where I looked at injuries in general and then linked it up with the referee reviews I promised to have a further look at the possible link between what we could call being fouled a lot and injuries and making lots of fouls and injuries.


Now to get things right from the start I like to point out that to call fouls has nothing to do with the fouls called on the field by the ref. When I talk of fouls I talk about the fouls that the referee-reviewers have found when reviewing the games. So the official count might be that team A committed 10 fouls and team B committed 6 fouls. But in our review it might be that team A only committed 5 fouls and team B 17 fouls.


Only taking the ‘official referee fouls’ as a reference is assuming that refs don’t make mistakes at all and are always right. Anyone who still believes that is someone that has lost touch with reality.


Now from doing our reviews over a few seasons we have found that for a not clear and obvious reason one of the teams that got away with a lot was Stoke. And the fact that Stoke is the team we play now has nothing to do with this. This is just a coincidence. Based on our reviews we can say that Stoke was amongst the teams that benefited most from referee mistakes. And we found that they could kick as they liked at times. Without fouls being called. Based on the reviews and our personal experiences one could say that Stoke can be called a ‘kick them’ team.


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Based on our reviews we can say that Arsenal is a team that has been kicked more than average. And that lot of this kicking went unpunished. Something we can even see with our eyes closed every match. But based on 3 years reviewing matches we have numbers who back this up. I’m not going in to detail about this in this article. Just look at the reviews articles and you can find all the evidence that is needed.


So based on this we can say that Stoke is a team that dishes it out and Arsenal are a receiving team. So how does this affect the injury league table of these teams? Does receiving a lot of (unpunished) kicks get you more injuries. And does kicking your opponents unpunished gives this kicking team a lot of injuries or does it has as a result that you don’t have a lot of injuries?


To have a look at this I have taken the numbers from the injury league over the last 3 seasons. And made an average injury record per week. And when I do this then we get this league table:


3 Seasons Av/year Av/week



Man United









Aston Villa



West Ham


















West Brom









Man City













And then we see that Arsenal has had an average of 249 weeks per season lost by players because of injury. And this means that Arsenal has on average 7 players out each week of the season.

Now in a squad of 25 players this means that Wenger on Average has only 18 players available. As we know that we have 3 keepers in the 25 squad that gives him an average of 15 outfield players to work with.


So one thing seems to be sure from these numbers. A team that gets kicked a lot loses a lot of players because of injuries.


But now let us turn our attention to the other team I mentioned earlier: Stoke. The team we could call a team that kicks a lot. And if we look at their numbers we see that they only had 95 weeks per season lost by players because of injury. On average this means that they only lose 2 players per week. Again in a 25 man squad and 3 keepers that means they have 20 outfield players to pick from.


If we look at these numbers and keep in mind our findings from the reviews we can come to the conclusion that a kicking team gets less injuries than a team that gets kicked. Now this might look like kicking in a door already open but I don’t know if anyone ever offered evidence of this based on numbers. So far it was based on gut feeling, now we can say look at the numbers.


We have shown in our reviews that Arsenal players can be kicked unpunished and that Stoke players can kick unpunished. And in the injury league table we see that this results in Arsenal players being more injured than the league average and Stoke players less compared to the league average. A league average that is 4 players out injured by the way. Arsenal almost have the double. And Stoke only has half of this.

For any possible Stoke supporter reading this I don’t say that all the injuries from Arsenal are because of Stoke fouls. As we only play each other 2 times in a season it only has a small direct effect on the grand total. But Stoke fans like to think of their team as a tough team that goes in to the challenge so the rough team name is something they are even proud of most of the time.


Arsenal players don’t get injured because their soft, young and foreign. Arsenal players get injured because the refs don’t do their job properly and don’t protect our players. Not that I want Arsenal players to be protected more than other players. I just want refs to cut down on dangerous fouls and fouls that injure players. And to take action with yellow and red cards to cut it out.  That isn’t too much asked I would say. In fact that is the reason why refs are out there. That is what they are getting paid for. And what they usually do when Arsenal players commit fouls.

The fact that Arsenal players commit few fouls but get more cards for their fouls (both yellow and red) is something that adds even more to our findings that something is not completely right when we look at how the referees do their job and how Arsenal is treated.


15 comments to Does getting kicked unpunished results in more injuries? Untold shows the numbers

  • AL

    Very good and analytical piece. That last sentence just sums the whole thing up; you hear people crowing that Arsenal players have received 100 red cards under Wenger bla bla bla, but the comparison with the number of fouls committed by Arsenal players and reds is disproportionate. Yet you find sides like Stoke having fewer cards to ours, but everyone knows Stoke have been the most physical side in the league. It would be interesting to know how many players from other teams have missed games after having been injured by an Arsenal player. I would say I could count them all on one hand.

  • Mark

    Thanks for this. I agree with the generalization. But there will be those who say that it does not mean anything because players get injured in various ways. Is a hamstring strain due to getting kicked? It might be and it might not be.

    I thought you point the other day about Theo’s ACL injury maybe having started with a kick was correct. I tore my ACL and did not feel pain immediately and even played on for a while. So the tear could have started with the kick but only become clear later. The knee has many ligaments and they can keep the knee together in many situations.

    A small injury due to a kick means the body has to compensate which causes more stress to other parts.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    @ Walter , sorry to hear on an earlier thread that your Mrs.’ condition is not improving . Do hope that the doctors get to the bottom of the problem.
    Sometimes injuries that the players get could have been due to ‘incidents’ having occurred earlier ,sometimes months before .And that too it could have been something which would have considered innocuous or mundane and may have even been dismissed as unimportant.
    As far as Arsenal go , I think they are doing all the can to ensure that all the players are in good condition and not rushed back too early .
    Better refereeing would reduce or stop preventable injuries, while fair play by the players themselves should be lauded and encouraged .
    Idiotic commentators and pundits should be shunned if the game is to progress .Screw the ratings and tell it as it is .Sponsors should shun such bias reporting .
    Clean it up ,so it remains the beautiful game .

  • Brickfields Gunners

    From The Spoof – sometimes it does come back to bite you !

    Dental Extraction.

    This distressed woman went into her dentist, sat down, pulled up her skirt. She opened her legs wide and asked the startled dentist to assist her.

    ‘I think you have come to the wrong place’ said the puzzled dentist.

    ‘Last week you gave my husband false teeth.’ said the woman ‘and now you are going to get them out!’

  • Brickfields Gunners

    From ….
    Please note that I did not change the names !

    The Backhand Compliment?

    While reading a newspaper, Walter came across an article about a beautiful actress and model who married a boxer who was noted for his IQ.

    “I’ll never understand,” he said to his wife, “why the biggest jerks get the most attractive wives.”

    His wife replied, “Why, thank you, my dear.”

  • Mandy Dodd

    Cannot deny the logic in this. I think a lot of what we have been forced to put up with came from having the audacity to rival fergie, and we paid for it. Back in the day, the likes of Pulis had the same lord and master as the refs. Not saying mark Hughes will do us any favours today, he won’t, but wonder if the dynamic has changed a bit?
    I still maintain there are other issues, but kicks certainly= injuries

  • blacksheep63

    interesting Walter, how do we explain Utd coming in at number 2 in the injuries chart however, if they had the advantage of biased refs for years? I think the injuries thing is a complex problem – the lack of protection is 1 factor amongst several i suspect.

  • I know what the solution is dive like rooney ramiras and get less injuries, if you fall on top the player before they hit your leg with a stupid tackle our team will have no leg breaks!

  • nicky

    As a realist, my fervent hope for today is that we all escape from Stoke, free from grievous injury.
    Whether we get a point or more is of no real consequence.
    Free from damage means that our search for the title is still on course and for another year we have avoided the results of the thuggery which regularly emanates from the Britannia Stadium.
    The only other worry is how many of our players will avoid red cards (Matthieu and Jack…take care).

  • Mandy Dodd

    Agree black sheep, there are a few things going,on with our injuries. I am not sure the club have turned over all stones regarding injuries for perhaps some good reasons, perhaps the way wenger wants us to play….we just do not happen to know these reasons. But it is strange to see Utd up there, a team that has been undoubtedly protected by officials and one you would assume adopt best practice in squad depth, medical facilities and injury management. As for fouling and intimidation, I am encouraged by the presence of flamini as an enforcer and protector. Yes, if he retaliates, he will risk a red, but he will also nobble someone if he has to for the team, not condoning such things, but that alone may in some cases prevent just some of what this team have taken in previous years. I also think this team are maybe a bit more physically robust than of recent, though our injury record this year may suggest the contrary.
    Arteta and flam to start today?

  • jambug


    Couldn’t agree more.

    Getting out of there with a point, no injuries, no suspensions? Yep, I’d take that right now.

    Trouble is I’ve got this horrible ‘Birmingham’ feeling nagging away at me.

  • jambug

    You do realise though nicky, if we do only get a point it will be construed as proof positive that our season has catastrophically imploded!!

  • Tom

    Arsenal injury problem is by far more complex than that and your
    analysis only highlights one aspect of it.

    The fact that PL prides itself on being more physically demanding both with its approach to applying the rules of the game and fixture congestion has probably more to do with our injuries than anything else.

    The ‘tough it out’ approach expected from players who go down with symptoms of what could be a serious injury during games is staggering .

    Players going down holding their hamstrings , knees or twisted ankles are expected to continue on after being treated by physios often times with a full complement of substitutions available .

    Also when talking about Arsenal short bench and only 15 players being available to Wenger on avarege for a given game , you have to lay some of the blame at Wenger’s feet . Diaby was never going to contribute to our cause this season , so why keep him on the roster?.

    Or why was our only reinforcement in January an already injured player who most likely will see no action this season at all?

    Fact is , Wenger has been known to have prefered working and trusted only a small group of players ( comparatively speaking) and certain players even when fit don’t get much of a look e.g. Bendtner or Podolski.

    But I do agree with you about Arsenal players and Wilshere in particular not getting any protection from refs and the English FA , which is surprising considering he’s one of their top assets but then again this is the same FA that seems to go out of their way to make it harder for English sides to progress deep into CL by the way of fixture congestion ,thus risking losing one of four highly coveted CL spots.

  • Hi Walter,

    Since mu is there at the top, this makes this analysis not so accurate..because we all know mu gets protected by the ref. So if they are up there in the list then your argument can’t be valid.

    Unless you can proof that most mu players get injured playing in champion league or while on international ifduty. If not there is no clear argument bias referring in epl is the cause of high injuries

    ..hope you can do further analysis to show how mu its at the top there