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June 2021

The Untold Injury records – 7. When legs are broken.

By Walter Broeckx

After the introduction part 1   and part 2   and part 3   and part 4    and part 5  and part 6,  we now are going to have a further look at some of the injuries in detail. And remember this is based on the injuries since 2002.

Next we will have a look at an injury that doesn’t happen that much. Fortunately. Because when it happens… you get to see all kinds of horrific scenes with limbs hanging in the strangest of angles. You could have guessed it. Next in our type of injury we will speak about broken legs. One of the things that makes my blood boil. But I will try to be as calm as possible when writing this.

4. Broken legs

Contact injury. If anyone doubts it he can come to Untold Towers and we will kick him against his leg until it breaks. There is no charge for this service, and it is part of the Untold research project into contact injuries.   For if you doubt that broken legs come from contact then I don’t know what else can bring you to other ideas.

Broken leg Injuries Coefficient risk
Arsenal 7 273.91 %
Aston villa 1 39.13 %
Chelsea 1 39.13 %
Everton 3 117.39 %
Fulham 1 39.13 %
Liverpool 4 156.52 %
Man City 2 78.26 %
Man United 6 234.78 %
Newcastle 3 117.39 %
Tottenham 2 78.26 %
League average without Arsenal 2.56
Total injuries 30

So in this contact injury type we had 30 injured players since 2002. Giving us an average of just under 3 players each season. Or we could say 2.5 each season. After all we are talking about something that is broken.

So it is clear broken legs happen from time to time. But before we turn our attention to Arsenal I want to first focus on Manchester United. Because like me you probably will be surprised to see the high number on injured Manchester United players with broken legs.

Now if we look at the details we see that those injuries happened with these players and I will add the year it happened in between brackets. Wes Brown (2002), Quinton Fortune (2002), Nicky Butt (2003), Ebanks-Blake (2005), Alan Smith (2006) and Darren Fletcher (2007).

And for most of them it was the beginning of the end of their Manchester United career. The only player that still is at United is Darren Fletcher but he has been suffering from all kinds of injuries since his broken leg. And is now out for what seems an eternity with Chronic Bowel Condition – not something one would wish on anyone.

But you will notice that this type of injury then stopped at United.

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And the same can be said of the other team that had a few broken legs: Liverpool. Carragher (2003), Cissé (2004 and 2006) and Pennant (2007). I think one of the broken legs of Cisse was in a World cup or European championship preparation match. But as he was a Liverpool player it stays on their books of course. But just as with United no more broken legs since 2007.

But when we look at Arsenal the team that got most broken legs we see this coming out of the data: Ramy Shaaban (2002) and then nothing till….Eduardo (2008), Nasri (2009), Fabregas (2010), Ramsey (2010), Sagna (2011), Sagna (2012). So while the other teams suddenly had no more broken legs it all started for Arsenal.

Some will wonder why Diaby, RVP, Jack Wilshere and Gibbs are not mentioned in this but this is because in their case it was a broken ankle or foot and they are classified in another part of the database.

But still the fact that other teams didn’t have broken legs anymore and Arsenal suddenly started getting broken legs at high pace is strange. Very strange. Was this the period that suddenly other teams started to decide that the only way to stop them was kick them till they bleed and are on the floor?

And how come that refs allowed this to happen? How many more broken limbs are needed before started to realise that some teams will use illegal tactics to stop us from playing football? And it is the job of the referee to make sure that such tactics don’t take place.

It is their job and their responsibility to act against illegal tactics. And kick them till the are on the floor is against the laws of the game. It is against the spirit of the game but look at me old fashioned person to even refer to such a thing.

But let me be old fashioned then. What I want is that it will be stopped. Stopped by the referees.

If we look at the table we see that Arsenal players have a risk of almost 3 times as high to end up with a broken leg than the league average. This is completely unacceptable.

And yet we see teams bragging about such tactics even teams that have been guilty of our players having their legs broken. And how the media pats them on the back for doing it over and over again. It is as if they get another  kick on another Arsenal leg being broken.

And if you look at it you can’t even blame them for such tactics. As it is clear to see that the referees will not act till the leg is broken. As it is clear that the head of the PGMOL didn’t have any trouble with Arsenal players being kicked to pieces himself. So why would refs bother to take action till there is blood on the field? And even then they sometimes don’t act.

I ‘m looking at you Mr. Mike Riley. If anyone is guilty of another Arsenal player breaking his leg since you took over it is YOU! It is your job to warn your referees and to tell them to not allow such kicking tactics. But maybe you are not correctly placed to ask this from the referees? After all they all know what you did in match 50.

So why would they care or listen even if you said them to act? And no matter what is happening behind the scenes I do think that you are the most important one to blame for this string of broken legs from Arsenal players.   I can only ask you to act (also in public when the kicking teams come out with their tactics) or else go away as you are not worthy of doing the job that has been given to you as a reward for whatever you had to be rewarded for.

In the next article we will have a look at a few other injuries.


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15 comments to The Untold Injury records – 7. When legs are broken.

  • Steve0

    One trend I’m noting with this study is that some of the numbers are a bit misleading about the disparity in injury totals. You’re using raw totals to compare Premier League clubs, but you aren’t limiting your sample to Premier League games. For example, the Fabregas broken leg occurred in a CL game. If you’re going to start including number from the additional competitions, it’s probably necessary to start looking at an incident per game total, as just throwing raw totals for clubs with vastly different total contests is disingenuous.

    Another issue that I’d have is that you’re playing a bit fast and loose with some of these injuries. The Nasri broken leg in 2009, for example, happened in a July Arsenal training session. To use that as evidence that teams are kicking and hacking Arsenal off the pitch is, at best, deliberately misleading. Knowing that you’re doing that here makes it difficult to just trust some of the other numbers you’ve used, without having a more specific breakdown on the injuries.

  • eitaniel

    Thanks again Team of Untold Arsenal, your tireless support for our principles is always a soothing tonic to the travails suffered at the hands of the backward 🙂

    as it is a strongly entrenched culture in the British game (“physicality” – read brutality – that is), how do we ‘fight back’ without falling victim ourselves to such low standards as “giving back as has been dished out to us” (reciprocating said ‘physicality’ ourselves, in other words), how else to we ‘counter’ the treatment we receive at the hands of not only the teams that play that game, but against the institution of football that officiates and interprets the measures that allow and basically permit the interpretation of physicality as brutalization?

    Vieira and Gilberto were players who had the power and tolerance to take hits and give them and thus instilled some sense of fear in the opposition, although, because the rules are always different for arsenal, you still found that if those players dished out what we were receiving, they’d be punished disproportionately. That tells me that if we resort to being ‘physical’ as well, we may find ourselves having players ejected frequently from the field of play, simply because it’d seem someone is waiting for an arsenal player to lash out after all that our players have taken, and refs wait at the ready to display red, or double-yellow’s.

    Do we then have to quicken and tighten our passing, such that we make the opposition run harder, tire quicker, be in disarray and thus open their lines up more and exploit that chaos? That’d be one method, which we already employ, but that still doesn’t help us achieve the greater goal of affecting the authorities in protecting our players (not to use the example of a chump club like barcelona, but what we saw with the clasico games when mourinho was in charge of madrid during pep’s time, was an example of what we already and would still experience even if our passing game was tighter and faster. mou resorted to english premiership style haranguing of barca players – who being divers anyway, was hardly going to work out well for him – and we saw the foulest and ugliest footballing games of the upper echelon teams in the modern game perhaps we’ll ever see.. as our players already experience such mauling, passing faster and tighter, would perhaps work in that we may score more goals and thus still win games, but at what cost to those players ‘late-tackled’ and brutalized in the course of the game.. and eventually our overall game would be affected negatively because our higher level players/more experienced footballers who can maintain the integrity of a game at that level of efficiency would be crippled, leaving exposed the others less formed and primed coz of their age and development to be forced to play and thus ‘weaken’ the efficiency and precision of our game, rendering the whole operation less executable anyway).

    there’s no doubt the answer lies in the refereeing improving and protecting flair play (and by way of pun, fair play too 🙂 ).. because using counter-measures like what i’ve highlighted above still allow the excusing of poor officiating, and the example of the clasico’s between barca and realmadrid in the pep vs mourinho period show that eventually, pep’s barca tired and came undone (not solely because of madrid’s haranguing tactics, perhaps, but with the whole armada of media frenzy created by the capital teams support base including the monarch etc., you could say they experienced a form of arsenal’s treatment in england – although, barca’s seeming favouritist treatment in europe by UEFA puts another spin to that whole point.. anyway).. poor and reckless officiating leaves players careers in disarray (ask Ronaldo da Lima when he was mauled and rapaciously brutalized by angered italian defenders in the 90s who couldn’t touch him because of his silky flair and electric pace), and only hamper the growth and splendour of our game.. it seems because that arugment is merely one of ‘aesthetics’, the lack of ‘science’ behind it makes it one that doesn’t hold water for authorities who feel that the blood and gore aspect of the game seems to draw more attention and publicity from fans than grace and wonder (and anyway, hey, we all have our different tastes dont we? lol)

    how else do we pressure these authorities to protect our players, the same way someone like Lionel Messi has been protected for the most part (and just look at what we’ve been blessed to enjoy of his exploits, unlike the shortlived career of the wonder that was Ronaldo da Lima – Brazilian Ronaldo – who would have surely given us much much much more joy than he already did in his painfully frustrating career?)..

    regardless of what we feel about how terribly our boys performed yesterday, for whatever reasons they weren’t up for the game (if that’s what it was), the reality is still that, even though the pace and frenetic quality of the prem makes it the most exciting league to watch, the idea of physicality being so lustfuly alluring, yet opening allowances for brutalization as part of that allure, means we will keep experiencing what the above research has revealed, and thus always find the integrity of our precision based game lacking and compromised, thus meaning we’ll suffer in the league.. but what else can we do to change this situation? fight back and be ruthless on the field as Tony Attwood asked in another article on here (untold)? that’s not our principle and style, and we’ll get punished disproportionately anyway.. plus, it’ll give the refs the excuse of further allowing ruffian tactics as they’ll feel less pressure from the likes of Untold to watch their behaviour on the pitch because we’re doing the same.. do we pass faster? and tighter/more accurately? that doesn’t address the cultural aspect of brutalization on the pitch; and eventually our game’s quality will suffer because we’ll lose quality players/experienced players, and even have our younger players suffer before their time coz we’re forced to dig into our youth structures..

    it’s just sport so alot of people will feel, why the fuss, it isn’t a social system issue or governmental corruption affecting your overall life, jeez, relax pal.. ok, but corruption is corruption, and principles are principles, regardless of the social sphere..

  • Ole M_70 Norway

    Could have been another one today in the game at White Hart Pain! Rose goes studs in on a Southampton player at the end of the 1st half (don’t remember who) with no intencion of playing the ball. Clear sending off offence! Of course Mr. Taylor ‘didn’t see it’. No mention in the media either.1-2 at the time, won 3-2. Same old, same old… 🙁

  • Gord


    A good fraction of what you are dis-satisfied with, probably comes from the source of numbers (the injury website). If they are classifying things incorrectly (or not including enough metadata), followup work will not be as easy.


    June 2009 – Mike Riley (:twisted:) takes over PGMOL

  • bob

    As you’ve indicated, and others have since pointedly noted: Taylor stitched us up in the yes, Chelsea debacle. Someone somewhere somehow called in to him, to tell him to tell Marriner to do the red-card. That is a major scandal, apart from the result!!!!!

    Now Ole here (above) reports that Taylor didn’t see the near leg-snapping tackle in today’s match. Is there a break out on Mista Taylor? Wasn’t he on hand (as assistant ref, as I recall, but could be mistaken) when Sagna and others were attacked two seasons back?

    This guy appears to be auditioning hard for Riley’s favors (or job) and doing one hellish job of it.

  • bob

    Do you have the exact date of that day of infamy when he takes over? (It could be put to good use hereabouts.)

  • bob

    Are you going to do anything on Taylor? (How about an answer some time? on anything?)

  • Steve0


    The sample size issue is not a difficult fix at all, and is really necessary information when comparing clubs that don’t play close to the same number of games annually. We know the time period this injury data covers, and we also have access to the total number of contests each of these teams has played over that time period. It really shouldn’t be too hard to come up with a ratio that makes the data more useful.

    As far as the broken leg example I pointed out today, I see the difficulty of looking into exactly when every single one of these incidents occurred. That said, the author points out an incident that didn’t happen during a club game, yet attributes it to the club he was playing for anyway. I can take a second example without doing any sort of research and point out that it happened in training, not a game against anyone. Even if you’re not going to go over all of these incidents to assure they actually happened for their club and in a game, you should be removing data that you know doesn’t fit this criteria.

  • Gord


    Walter is looking at some injury website. They (not Walter) classified it wrong. That said, if you had better metadata, I am sure Walter would take it into account.

    But, at least Walter didn’t use Szczesny’s two broken arms. 🙂

  • Mandy Dodd

    Walter, these are perhaps the most disturbing stats in this series of articles.
    Think such data should be sent to our legal dept.
    see we are challenging the card on Gibbs, and challenging that it was a red anyway hopefully preventing Ox being banned. If they reject either, we should be demanding recorded evidence of what made Marriner change his mind, and I do not think it was just the Chelsea players

  • Pat

    Thanks Walter, for yet another expose of what’s going on.

    Agree with you Mandy, these stats are indeed very disturbing. The timing of our broken legs looks far from pure chance as well.

    bob at 4.44 – this is very worrying as well. This Anthony Taylor business is exceedingly fishy.

  • Linz

    Nasri suffered a broken leg in training after a Diaby challenge. What category is this in?

  • hooshimine

    There is no panacea for this problem until FIFA takes appropriate actions against this brutality, The most thing a referee can do is to show a red card nothing more, major actions MUST be taken by EPL officials to prevent this savagery and it is up to fans and EPL clubs to make this issue more conspicuous.
    these injury records should be a beginning of a movement against bullies.
    mate!how many cups do you need for your bedroom? just don’t break my leg i need it for going to f***ing toilet.

  • WalterBroeckx

    SteveO and Linz,

    And to all others who doubt the numbers.

    I will write a new article upon this that will appear shortly.

    Hope you are satisfied then.

    But be aware of what you will see…..

    Edited by myself by the way

  • WalterBroeckx

    Ok the follow up article has been written.
    I thank Linz and SteveO for doubting the numbers. They were right. But not in the way that they thought they were right.

    I can tell you it will be even more shocking after checking the data….