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April 2021

The main reason for Arsenal slipping up

By Walter Broeckx

NOTE: As Untold Arsenal is again under some kind of cyber attack we might experience some troubles with posting articles. Or you might have troubles entering the site or posting comments. We hope that the IT people can sort this out as soon as possible. 

When we look at the league table we see that we have slowly conceded ground against our closest rivals. We have been top of the league for most of the season but gradually we couldn’t keep it up with the other teams.


Now apart from the usual suspects like referees who didn’t award us blatant penalties we also suffered on another front. And you can almost take that literally the word front. The injury front.


Now I know that some people use this to beat Wenger with. After all any stick to beat him is good enough. So why don’t we assume that Wenger deliberately injures our own players is what some might suggest. Yeah sure….


I have taken another set of numbers from the injury league for this article. First of all it just gives the total numbers of players that have been out missing matches. They give one point per player per week they have been out.


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And then I have added some own numbers like the average of players each team has lost per week. And finally I added a coefficient. As this will show you better how much difference there is between the teams and how much some teams are affected more than others.

Injury 32 weeks



If we look at the first table we see that Arsenal are way in front of the rest. Not a team in sight. And with only 6 matches to go it is clear that Arsenal will win the injury league table this season. The team that comes closest to us is Manchester United. Now I don’t know how the pundits talk about United but they sure seem to have had their injury troubles also this season. And it might add another dimension to the bad season they have.


A few seasons ago we did a series about injuries and we then found that usually 4 players being out is the turning point for most teams to start losing points. 4 out is still manageable. From 5 players out it is getting more difficult. Anything above is virtually impossible to cover and certainly when it happens on a frequent basis.


If we now look at the average/week we wee on average how many players have bee missing per team. And we see that Arsenal is almost having an average of 7.5 players being out each and every week. Of course there have been moments when we got less than 7.5 players injured. But this also means that we have had weeks when we had 9 or even more players out because of injury.


And that is something that no team can really handle. From a 25 man squad with 3 keepers you have 22 outfield players. Now if you miss 7-8 of them this means that you only have 14-15 outfield players fit. And you have to put young players on the bench. Like Gnabry, Bellerin, Akpom, Zelalem have done this season.


And then I even don’t mention the quality of the missing players. Do you really think that we don’t miss Ramsey at all? If he would have been fit the whole season he would be contender for player of the season. Alas, another mysterious injury has kept him out for more than 3 months now. And as if that wasn’t enough we lost our top scorer from last season and our assist king for the past seasons: Walcott. Add to those players like Oxlade-Chamberlain with a knee injury, Özil now out since a few weeks in the money time of the season and finally Koscielny with a calf injury. And the icing on the cake is of course losing Wilshere with a broken foot.


Just the 5 players out Ramsey, Wilshere, Özil, Theo and Koscielny is something that no other team could cope with I think. Not even the money teams could cope with losing half of the regular outfield players out injured. Maybe one week they could. But all the time? But we have to deal with it. Almost week in week out. Always having 7 or more players out each and every week.


Now whoever you want to blame for this situation: referees for their allowance to kick Arsenal players till they bleed, the medical staff for not getting the injured players back soon. Or Wenger for not rotating enough and this is a bit funny as one of the criticisms that is aimed at Moyes is that he rotates too much. And they are second in the injury league. So rotate not  much or a lot if the injuries hit you it doesn’t seem to matter that much.


But what the reason might be for the injuries, fact is we have to deal with them. And we did just that when it was just Theo for a big part of the first half of the season and The Ox were out for the whole first half of the season.

But from the moment we had to add Ramsey to this things started to go downwards. And certainly when Ramsey and Theo suffered from injuries at the same time. Ramsey the engine of the Arsenal team in that first half of the season and Theo the one to accelerate when we needed extra speed. Since then we had to add Jack to the list. And Özil and Koscielny the other week.


Finally I will show a graphic taken from the table and showing the difference between the teams in the PL. And then you can see it visually how much more we got affect by injuries and how the remaining players had to cope compared to the other teams.

injury graphic 32



If we take Arsenal as the 100% mark we now see that United is the closes with just under 70% of the injuries Arsenal had to endure.

Liverpool had just over 60% of the injuries compared to Arsenal. Manchester City suffered about half of the injuries Arsnal had to deal with.

And Chelsea only had to deal with some 37% of the injuries Arsenal had to overcome.


So whoever you want to blame this is the reality we had to deal with. Looking at these numbers and looking at the names of the key-players we have lost this season it is nothing but a miracle that we are where we are.

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26 comments to The main reason for Arsenal slipping up

  • Excellent article much of which I agree with. What worries me is the length of recovery that we consistently seem to have. Podolski hamstring 14 weeks Ramsey thigh 14 weeks and counting. This surely could be improved. Eamonn. Dublin.

  • Completely agree with this article. While not absolving Arsene Wenger of all the blame for our poor turn of form, in particular our capitulation against Liverpool & Chelsea, I do feel, due to the injuries to ‘key’ individuals at the same time has eventually caught up with us.

    You take players of the stature if Walcott, Ramsey, Ozil and Wilshere and any team would struggle. Take four key players out if the Chelsea & Liverpool teams and they would be on less points than they are now.

    It’s clear the team look tired and jaded. Where I do lay blame on the management at the club is in our kamikaze approach to playing the top teams away from home and our inability to bring in a striker in both this seasons windows. You cannot win the league relying on one striker. It’s a shame as we had a great chance this year, if only there was a little bit more foresight on the clubs part.

    For the majority of the season we have been exceeding expectations.

  • ARSENAL 13

    Rumor rumor rumor.

    – Diaby back in training. Mr Wenger had confirmed that he’ll start training this week onward. I hope he’ll work hard on his fitness and be available the whole season next.
    – Ramsey to be back for FA cup semi. Dont know how correct the time frame is. Mr Wenger said he is on his way back and he doesnt want to rush Ramsey and risk further delays.

  • andy1886

    While we certainly we have had more than our share of injuries there is something that we could do about this. Arsene has traditionally gambled on players with previous injury problems. One example is of course a certain Mr. A. Diaby who had a poor injury record when we signed him and even allowing for the terrible injury he received soon afterwards he has had a terrible record since. Gibbs too has a poor record, as does Theo, Tomas and Jack. Yaya again had a poor record, so much so that he considered retirement, and we signed KK already injured of course.

    This is not to say we shouldn’t gamble of course – Marc Overmars was a magnificent signing who had previously suffered a serious injury. Maybe though it’s time to take fewer risks on injury prone players who cannot stand up to the demands made of a professional footballer in the Premier League. I’m afraid that we have invested enough time and money in Abou for example, we need to cut our losses and let him go. Tomas is in his twilight years so will eventually be replaced with a hopefully less fragile player. Theo I would keep as he gives us enough to be worth the risk. Jack’s injury record may become an issue but Gibbs seems to be shaking off his earlier fragility. As for Yaya we will just have to wait and see. If he starts to show a Diaby like adhesion to the treatment table I hope that we do not keep gambling on him the way we did with Diaby.

    Just one final note, yes I have some sympathy with injury prone players but unfortunately in football sentimental attachments rarely pay off. Sometimes hard decisions must be made for the good of the team. Fortunately the high rewards for players means that even those unable to find a new club will stiil live the rest of their lives in relative luxury. We need to be more ruthless in this area.

  • clockendjim

    Well done Walter – a very clever and imformative breakdown as to why we find ourselves struggling now.
    I bow my head in shame and admit I was one of those Gooners who last year said Ramsey was never going to make it. Well did he make us eat our words; he was unrecognisable at the start of this season and certainly was in the running for Player Of The Year until his unfortunate injury. If we had kept him and Theo fit, then we would have been in with a real chance of being Champions this season – ah well !
    However I do not believe that bad luck is a major factor in producing statistics; there must other things that go toward the terrible indictment of your table.
    What this must not cover up though is the awfully naive tactics Wenger has used resulting in the humiliations at Man City, Liverpool & Chelsea. The gung-ho tactics whereby we threw 8 men upfield from the kick-off, gave the ball away and the opposition said thank you very much and broke away to be faced by only 2 defenders before scoring. Can you imagine Mourinho not packing his defence and keeping things tight at least until half-time.
    I have loved Wenger as much as anyone; he was a breath of fresh air that changed the whole face of English football. But things evolve and he has not. I do not know the simple answer, but we definitely need a Team Manager who is more tactically aware of what is needed in the modern game to actually win

  • Mick

    You said….’Can you imagine Mourinho not packing his defence and keeping things tight at least until half-time.’
    I do believe Arsenal sliced through the packed Chelsea defence in the opening minutes (Mourinho’s incredible tactics not withstanding) when the score was nil/nil leaving Giroud with an excellent chance, one on one with the goalie. Unfortunately he scuffed his shot and Cech saved. As we know Chelsea punished us twice in the next few minutes, both goals resulting from us losing the ball through individual errors in dangerous areas. Your implication appears to be that tactics by both managers were responsible for that scoreline which is nonsense. Three individual errors were the cause of the scoreline at that point in the game being 2-0 to Chelsea and not 1-0 to Arsenal, nothing whatsoever to do with tactics.

  • finsbury

    And as the troll that is also a self declared tactical expert as well as an expert in finance as well as an expert in misreading clear photographs from a broadcasters website that they refuse to believe is a broadcaster (?) it is with fitting timing that the offshore jokers running Tottenham Hotspur football club, that the Groaners inisisted in August were The Model to follow (see comments from Troll on Director of Football above) have made the following announcments:

    Tottenham ANTICIPATE putting out a tender for construction later this year and say opening the stadium in mid-2017 is “FEASIBLE”.

    Well, it’s good to know that all those millions spent on all those consultants have not been wasted. A feasible project. Blimey!

  • clockendjim

    Hi Mick

    Sorry you have missed the point completely. Yes Giroud should have scored (that is another issue), but at least there was a Chelsea defence for us to have to ‘slice through’ as you put it.
    When Chelsea scored their first two goals they had a defence of 2/3 men to ‘slice through’ unforgiveable naivety, especially as the away team. The individual errors may not have been punished if a back four had been in front of Sczeney.

  • Mick

    And you have missed my point completely, when the score was 2-0 it was player errors that was the cause rather than tactics. Both the Chelsea goals were from good shots so they went in irrespective of whether our fullbacks were too far up or not, our chance was a bad shot so it didn’t go in irrespective of the fact Chelsea had plenty of defenders present. You say at least there was a Chelsea defence to slice through, yes there was but it didn’t prevent our very good chance did it. The point is that goals are more often than not scored by good play or defensive mistakes. You haven’t a clue what Wengers instructions regarding tactics were any more than I have.

  • andy1886

    Mick you are right that sometimes goals are just a result of good play/bad defending and it is as simple as that.

    Regards the tactics although we don’t know what was said before the game we can look at the possibilities, namely:

    1. Arsene didn’t suggest such an attacking approach early on, in which case what were the players doing and why didn’t they follow instructions? As this was a carbon copy of the start at Liverpool can we believe that the players would be so careless?

    2. Arsene did suggest this approach, in which case did he learn nothing from Anfield and a lesser extent from the Etihad? If not why didn’t someone point this out to him?

    3. Arsene didn’t issue any instructions and left the players to play their game the way they saw fit. Ex-players have suggested that Arsene likes to give player freedom to play but isn’t that somewhat naive in this day and age?

    Let’s hope we learn from this and have the sense to play a more conservative style in such fixtures in future.

  • bjtgooner

    Walter an excellent article & as you rightly point out we have been seriously handicapped over the last few weeks by the loss of 5 first team starters – not including the unfortunate Diaby. Given that loss I think the team has done remarkable well.

    Lets hope some of the walking wounded return to help our final run in.

  • GoingGoingGooner

    I know that some ice hockey players who block a lot of shots have had their skates fitted with Kevlar. Adidas is coming out with another football boot with Kevlar in the upper part. I wonder if that will help players with injured feet?

  • Shard


    I go with option 2 to one level of assumption. A reasonable one. That Wenger decides the tactics. Hence he suggested the approach. I reject the contention that that means he didn’t ‘learn anything’ from Anfield.

    The implication in your statement is that just because something didn’t work once, it should never be attempted again. At Anfield we conceded in 30 seconds. The team panicked, and played horribly.

    You could say a manager should lambast all of them, and then decide that they are incapable of playing any other way than simply sitting back and hence those are your ‘tactics’. Or you could believe in your players. You see them in training, you know their capabilities, and you know that although sitting back is a safer approach, playing on the front foot can bring greater rewards, and you don’t let fear guide you.

    Both are valid approaches, and both are practical in their own way. Arsene’s default position is to attack. I like this. But that statement doesn’t mean Arsene’s default position is to not defend well. The players neither attacked well, getting caught on the ball and then hiding when pressed, nor did they defend well. The players didn’t carry out their tactical orders. The tactic of getting past the press, in theory, is a perfectly good tactic. The execution was lacking.

  • Shard

    The injuries are not just do to with the numbers. Players crucial to our style of play have been struck by injury this season. In the early season we were without Cazorla, Rosicky, Podolski, Walcott and Ox.. But we had Ozil, to create instead of Cazorla, and we had Ramsey providing a runner for both Ozil and Giroud to find. Wilshere too could provide those runs to some extent and although his strength is more the quick one-twos with Giroud. With Walcott back that system just worked.

    But with both Ramsey and Walcott falling to injury we became a lot less effective. Especially because the Ox hasn’t had much time playing with Ozil either. And with Ozil’s injury of course we’ve suffered even more.

    So for me, two crucial injuries have derailed our season. Ramsey and Walcott. Everything else we could have probably coped with. (Except maybe Giroud himself, although Sanogo/Bendtner can do a similar job)

  • AL

    Good analysis Walter. Those injuries are what put us where we are today, five first team players(automatic starter) is just too much. Many sides would be sweating if they lost a key player, let alone 5. That’s exactly half the team out.

  • andy1886

    Shard, thanks for your thoughts, I tend to agree I think that maybe Arsene thought that Anfield was an abberation but the game at Chelsea has shown that we don’t perhaps have the playing staff (at least that were available on that day) to play that way (especially against the better sides). It’s an odd one in that our improvement this season has been built on a much more solid defence, so to go gung ho from the start seems completely out of character. As I said, I’m hoping for a much more pragmatic approach in such games in future, on reflection grinding out a turgid 0-0 draw as Chelsea did at the Ems in December would have been a better idea.

  • pete

    I have just read this fascinating article on our injury problems at Goonerholic’ (full credit offered) – which is well worth a read:


    @ Pete
    Just read the Goonerholic piece on injuries and said a while ago that when we played Chelsea it was like Whippets taking on a Staffordshire Bull Terriers

  • Pat

    It has been said that Arsenal played the best half of our season in the second half of the last match against Manchester City. That is in spite of the injuries. In spite of the morale sapping loss against Chelsea and the last minute own goal against Swansea.

    To me this shows that our manager and our players are always looking to learn and actually learning. That they do not bow down before adversity but fight it.

    That is why I cannot accept rude comments about Arsene Wenger’s ‘tactical naivety’. Or anything else. And I still say our injuries are down to the refs and the thugs.

    Up the Gunners!

  • Micheal Ram


    We dont need CM players here. Gung-ho tactics? I dont really know how such tactics work. How can you even say Arsene send 8 players to attack? No common sense at all.

  • Rupert Cook

    Injuries, well this happens every year. Everyone was aware of this in January and we didn’t bother to bolster our squad bar Kallstrom, who was injured when we signed him. Just a couple of back up players might have helped. A striker, even of the calibre of Berbatov, would have helped take the pressure of Giroud who has looked increasingly out of sorts as the season reaches its climax. I doubt it would have made us title contenders but it might have fended off the challenge from Everton.

    Certain players get injured every year, Walcott, Ramsey, Gibbs and of course Diaby who occasionally plays a game or three every season. Those first three are vital to our team and we can’t afford to lose them for a month let alone three or four.

    We’ve been damn lucky that Giroud hasn’t got injured considering that Bendtner seems to be in exile and Sanogo is a rookie who is totally unproven at EPL level. I’m not sure why Bendtner isn’t sitting on the bench instead of making love with taxis. He’s not the best but he’s miles better than having the option of a rookie young French man who looks far too raw.

    I’m sure this insane striker situation will be addressed in summer. No club is going to win the league with Giroud as its lone striker. As Kronke has apparently told Wenger he has 100 million to spend I expect we’ll be seeing a star striker of super quality in our colours next year.

  • bjtgooner

    Surfer seems quiet this morning – but we can rely on the rupert to ensure the naysayers get their negative fix.

  • WalterBroeckx

    I also point at the fact that Podolski also has been out since the end of August till end of December with a serious injury.

  • AL

    Happy to hear Rambo might play a part on Sunday at Egerton, and Ozil could be back next week.

    On a different note, the Telegraph reports two publications,the sun and the mirror, have been banned by Bayern next week for their disrespectful headlines over schweinsteiger. Way to go Bayern! If only all the other clubs could follow suit.

  • AL

    Egerton??? 🙂

  • Mandy Dodd

    Interesting link Pete. This strengthens my view that the situation is just as bad , and perhaps even worse with the youngsters who have never had to face the pgmol and the teams they seem to protect.
    Think we need to at least look at training and fitness methods