The Untold Injury records: every Premier League injury since 2002 analysed.

By Walter Broeckx

I think the fact that Arsenal has a lot of injuries is something that has various effects.  And these effects not only include the obvious hampering Arsenal in a way that the club might end up short of players, and thus might be forced to overplay players to the extent that they become more fatigued.

The effects also include the fact that injuries are used as a ground for criticism.  People blame Wenger for injuries. People blame Wenger for players not coming back on the return date. People blame Wenger for players who come back too soon and then get injured again. In short it is another stick they take out every now and then when they have nothing more left to beat Wenger.

But what is exactly the injury situation at Arsenal. Of course in the current season we have been again hit by massive injuries. The current count is that we have missed 215 injury weeks this season. And we are well on course to beat the worst injury record we have. Our league average is around 249 injury weeks per season and as you can see 215 is not that far off any more. In fact if we stay on the current level and by the look of it we will we might end up with 285 injury weeks this season.

But before you take out your stick to beat someone, as we have shown in earlier articles there have been teams that also have been hit by injuries in the past and even amassed more injuries than that. So in a season you can be very unlucky with injuries. But usually this is a one off. As for Arsenal as we have shown we usually are in the top 2 or top 3 in the last seasons when it comes to being hit by injuries.

So having a look at one season is not enough. We need more seasons to look at. And that is exactly what we now can do. Thanks to Pete who occasionally writes an article for Untold I have now got a nice database about injuries. Thanks for that Pete.

But the real honour for this database should go to Steve Kell. And I thank him a lot for giving permission to use the database he has. You will be able to  find him over here in the future by the way AFSC London  His site isn’t operational yet but I hope he will get it online shortly. Thanks Pete and Steve. The numbers in the database come from the injury league website where they have been holding records of injuries since a while.

So what do I have exactly? Well I have a spreadsheet in which we have listed all the injuries since 2002. So that is more than 10 years of PL injury history. I have a list of all the possible medical reasons why a player or players have suffered an injury and couldn’t play as a result.

But for the sake of looking at things and trends we didn’t use all the teams to compare things and to look for patterns. We have taken Arsenal and another 9 teams to see how Arsenal is doing on the injury front.

Those teams  in alphabetical order are: Aston Villa, Chelsea, Everton, Fulham, Liverpool, Man City, Man United, Newcastle and Tottenham. So we have the other top teams that usually fight for the top 4 and the Europa league places. And then we have a few teams that usually are close to that in good seasons. Fulham possibly losing their place this season and Newcastle having been down in that period but usually they are teams that can be found halfway the league table. Of course we didn’t include teams that have gone up and down in that period as you need a more solid ground to compare things.

What do we have in the database? In the database we have 6.325 injuries. Every broken leg, every hamstring pulled, every calf strain counts for 1. And we find that since 2002 these 10 teams have had 6.325 injuries.

And we have also all the different types of injuries. Indeed since 2002 we have had 124 different types of injuries. I think that alone is already an impressive number. I didn’t realise before that there are so many different types of injuries. But the database is very detailed and if we look at the injuries when we speak about broken limbs we have some 10 different items going from foot to nose.

Now to just put the complete list on the site is not really practical. It is so long and so detailed that you would probably skip it anyway. So what we will try to do is to give some more general comparison material at first. And have a look at how the Arsenal injury record is compared to other teams. We will try to do this based on two different categories at first.

Because you have injuries that come from contact mostly. And then you have the non-contact injuries. Let us say that a broken leg is usually a result of a contact. And if you don’t agree with this assumption then I can assure you that it really usually is the result of a bad contact. But a hamstring injury on the other hand is usually not really a direct result of a bad kick. It can be of course. But usually it isn’t.

And for some injuries it really is difficult to judge. Like knee ligament injuries. We know they sometimes happen while just turning and your foot sticks too firmly in the ground and it just snaps. But you can also get injured from tackles where the knee gets twisted and as a result the ligament snaps.

To find a solution for this we have taken it that for some injuries we assume that 50% of them are from non contact and the other 50% are from contact. We have taken that line for all the teams. So even if our assumption is not 100% correct and I admit this will probably be the case we have drawn the line the same for all the teams. Being a ref myself I must be consistent and treat all the teams in the same way. So that is what we have done.

Now I must say that while I am typing this I only have the general view of things and haven’t gone in deeper at things. So I am as excited as I hope you might be, and I don’t know what is lying in front of us. But I sure hope and think it will be interesting to see and we might get a better insight in injuries and how it affects or might affect a team.

So stay with us for the next days and we will discover the world of injuries in the PL together.


20 Replies to “The Untold Injury records: every Premier League injury since 2002 analysed.”

  1. Walter.

    Sorry to go off topic so soon, but as you have access to such good data, is it possible for you to help me out with my little ‘hobby Horse’.

    I’ve been trying to find the amount of fouls conceded versus the amount of Red and Yellow cards received, year on year and overall, for the entire lifetime of the Premier League.

    Can you help?

  2. Thanks in anticipation of the hard work that has undoubtedly going into this. This is a vastly important subject for this club
    I will find this extremely interesting, I back the club , players and manager, but if I am critical of anything, it is the injuries. Not so much as a stick to beat a man I admire immensely, but more of a how come we do not do something about this…this is costing us. What are Chelsea doing that we are not?
    I have in my head theories of lack of ref protection, teams kicking us, but also the losing Lewin the first effect, the fact we go for technical pacy players, and also in the back of my mind recent suggestions that we over train….if the Dutch coach is correct, like Marines….and maybe a vicious spiral of smaller squad, over playing players, injuries. To be honest I am for some reason more preoccupied with reducing injuries than bringing players in, but that’s just me.
    But I will try to cast such preconceptions from my head and look forward to your analysis, have a feeling it could be very interesting

  3. I look forward to reading these articles with interest. I’m currently trying to work on this season’s statistics which might, or might not, indicate any correlation with injury.


    My gut feel is that the Dutch coach Verheijen (?) is simply looking to gain a name for himself. A lot of what he was saying was just jargon with very little substance. As for Arsenal training ‘like marines’ (what does that even mean?) in pre season which apparently only build short term strength for the initial 2 or 3 months, shouldn’t the injuries be disproportionately higher after those 2 or 3 months?

    Yet, Podolski, Arteta, Vermalen, Walcott, Cazorla, Ox, Rosicky, Sanogo were out injured in the early part of the season (for various lengths of time) Later in the season we have lost Ramsey, Walcott (again), Wilshere (to a contact injury), and it seems now, Ozil. Hardly a step up throughout the season.

    THe defense and Giroud have seemed to hold up quite well to the ‘prehistoric’ training too. We’re also well stocked with midfielders. To me that suggests that maybe most injuries take place to midfielders (why that is is up for debate, more congested area of the field, more kicks, quicker and more frequent involvement might be possibilities) and that Wenger knows this and is why he stocked up on them in the first place.

    Basically, I remain unconvinced that our injuries are significantly worse than other clubs. I am however trying to compile some data to see if this is the case. Let’s just see if I can figure out what to do with the data and reach any conclusion. But I would wager that if at all our situation is worse than other clubs, Wenger knows about it and is looking at ‘revolutionary’ solutions. He doesn’t strike me as a man that likes to stand still.

    Oh and about overtraining. That is a possibility too. In which case, I can only imagine that the payoff is considered worth the risk. We are almost always a side that physically outlasts their opponents. This brings its own rewards, and its own risks. That balancing act depends on the data that the manager has access to, and how he sees his squad.

  4. Looking forward to the analysis on this subject.
    I am sure it will show what most of us suspect concerning the amount of injures we suffer compared to other teams. I just wish we could wave a magic wand and cure our damned bad luck.
    A more worrying thing for me personally is the fact that im really not surprised, upset or overly annoyed with the amount of players we have bedridden at the moment. Just the feeling of deja vu and the sick nagging itch of inevitability creeping over my skin.
    (Im lying, I am annoyed!)

  5. Great introduction and thanks to Pete and Steve and of course also Walter and everyone else who puts in their time and energy into this endeavour.


    One question. How was the database compiled?

  6. That’s the guy Shard, with his marine training. We are Arsenal…..we should at least expect Navy Seal or Delta Force training!
    But you may be right, this guy does seem to like the sound of his voice. If he is so great, why is he not at Real Madrid or somewhere? He also had a go at Moyes at Utd, who are also being hit badly by injuries, but this is the same Moyes who did ok on a very small squad with Everton.
    Your point about MFs is intriguing, Chelsea appear the polar opposite to us on injuries, but apart from the obvious, they seem to play more defensive runners in MF, have a hunch they also get more protection than us as well. Ramirez and mikel, along with essien get away with murder.
    Overtraining…..cited by many, overdoing the pre seasons. But Ozil did not even have a preseason with us,….ok just one example. Maybe with the injuries we have, we take risks with those on the pitch…some are saying Ozil got injured in the second minute and tried to run it off….but he would not be the first to do that. Risk and reward with training….maybe, but this year, the boundary looks dangerously fine.But look forward to what Walter and co find.

  7. The point is, whether he has a point or not he knows damn well that as long as he’s on the Arsenal bashing bandwagon he’ll be taken seriously.

    You can rest assured if there’s anyone out there who takes the opposite view and supports Wengers training methods we wont hear about it.

  8. Mandy

    We always seem to cut it fine don’t we? 🙂

    I think it comes down to how much faith we have in the fringe players. So far, they seem to be doing their bit, but in key positions we lack the options to rotate effectively. That, coupled with less protection might be enough of an explanation.

    I must say I think our situation this year seems different to me from a few years ago. And definitely different to 10 years ago.

    Back then, we accepted that the replacements for any injured player won’t be of the same quality. Chelsea changed that, and just when we had less resources, the other clubs followed. I suspect that to some extent the perception of suffering from injuries comes from not having had enough quality replacements.

    But there was definitely a time of 2 or 3 years in between where something was going wrong. Mystery knocks for Rosicky and Vermaelen, Weird genetic issues with Walcott’s shoulders, etc. Plus of course that was the era of the leg breaks at Arsenal, so that might have added to it. One thing’s for sure. Arsenal would not have invested in a new medical centre and the GPS tracking systems if they didn’t feel they needed to improve.

    I think we have improved. But that again is just my perception.

    It will certainly be interesting what the data for the past 10-12 years shows. I wish we could get stats for distance run by players in every match as well. But that kind of data seems to be restricted, or at least expensive.

  9. Off topic, but just saw last 25mins of the match involving our friends from up the road. They were truly awful. Don’t want to tempt fate, but…

  10. Jambug,
    I don’t have that data available for the moment. But I will try to have a look around and see if I can find it.

    I thought Dogface used to have that somewhere in his database. I seem to remember it from his referee previews

  11. Sav from Australia,

    The database was compiled by injury league. I have mentioned this now in the article also as I had forgotten to do this at first. Your question reminded me of this.

  12. Certainly do Shard, some years, all the full backs out, this year, all the attacking MFs getting hit!
    Whilst I agree, these new facilities suggest the club take this issue seriously, is it possible wenger is more relaxed than some on injuries….maybe natures way of developing players and ensuring many get game time? No reason to believe this, of course he does not want to see his players suffering as some have done, but just throwing it out there. For instance, if Jack, Rambo, ozil and theo fit all season, we may not see the likes of AOC or Gnabry?
    Injuries have certainly helped some develop…until of course these replacements get injured….and as you say shard, we are cutting it fine.
    God speed Ramsey

  13. Thanks Walter, Pete, Steve and everyone involved in the data gathering and analysis. Looking forward to your findings.

    But while you are at it, I’ll like Tony, Walter and anybody with good knowledge of ‘history’ to help check this out:

    I read somewhere sometimes (can’t remember precisely) ago that in the ancient England, the present location of the emirates stadium was a battle ground (map evidences were given) where many people fought, bled, died and were buried.

    According to the writer, the land has been carrying a ‘curse’ ever since then. And that must have been the reason behind Arsenal’s injury mystery.

    Please can anybody confirm that the emirates stadium is built on a ‘blood field’. If it’s true, then I will seriously plead that the Arsenal management seek out a solution along that line.

    May sound unbelievable and ridiculous but that’s what our injury record is fast becoming.

    Sorry that Im sounding despirate. Anything that helps the team is worth trying out imho.


  14. Pete, you perhaps do the spuds a disservice, look beyond the result, it may have been a plucky unlucky almost heroic defeat in a European competition, a bit like Man City last night, it is only us that can truly be described as awful in drawing in Munich, I know because the Daily Mail and just about every other Uk paper and pundit told me so

  15. Sorry to state the obvious but surely arsenal get the most injuries as they get the least protection , most of our long term injuries have been caused by assaults of differing degrees.How Wilshere managed to stay fit for as long as he did this season was amazing as he seemed to get fouled at least 8 times every game with probably only 25% of the fouls being given either because the ref played on or completely ignored the foul.

  16. This project is going to be very interesting and hopefully will answer a few questions. This type of in depth investigative work is what sets Untold apart from the rest and makes it the BEST.
    ‘to find the amount of fouls conceded versus the amount of Red and Yellow cards received’
    Another interesting piece of research, and a related aspect of this could be to establish whether there is an increased likelihood of getting a card depending on the players skin colour and/or nationality. I have always thought a black French player eg Vierra would be more likely to get carded than a white English player eg Rooney for the same offence.

  17. I still think it is probably about lack of protection and getting kicked freely without referee intervention.
    I don’t see why we should think this Dutch coach knows better than the Arsenal staff.
    Maybe Ozil’s injury was not helped by the fact that for the first time in his career he has had to play all through the winter. Arsene Wenger obviously tried to give him a bit of rest but it can’t compare with a proper break. That and the notoriously physically demanding nature of the English premier league which is also new to him.
    By the way, the British press, tabloid and broadsheet, should be thoroughly ashamed of the stick they gave Ozil yesterday. Some have tried to correct it today – too late!

  18. Damilare,

    Strange as it may seem, one cannot rule out curses, even though in an era of scientific knowledge this kind of ideas seem outdated at best. But if we look at quantum physics, may of its principles are similar to the ones of the ancient Asian civilizations, Chinese first and foremost. I am not a creationist by any means, but I acknowledge that we have our limits in understanding the intricate aspects of the connection between matter and energy. Anyway, before the Stadium, the land was occupied by a crematorium. Not the most cheerful of places if you ask me. Laugh at me if you want, but I would welcome an exorcist.

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