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 http://m.afsclondon.co.uk/ 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.
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