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April 2021

Those damned injuries

By Walter Broeckx

With the season nearing its end we have another look at the injuries that has been suffered by the teams in the PL this season.

The table you will see is based on the numbers from the injury league website.
It gives you the ranking, the name of the team, the total of numbers sustained on a basis of for one week a playing being out counts for one point. And then finally the average players that have been missing every week.

Position-  Team – Injuries – Average/week

1 Arsenal 277  – 7.49
2 Aston Villa 197 –  5.32
3 Tottenham 194  – 5.24
4 Newcastle 186 – 5.03
5 Man Utd 185  – 5.00
6 Everton 184 – 4.97
7 West Brom 172 – 4.65
8 Crystal Palace 158 – 4.27
9 West ham 156 – 4.22
10 Liverpool 155 – 4.19
11 Fulham 153 – 4.14
12 Norwich 144 – 3.89
13 Swansea 143 – 3.86
14 Man City 137 – 3.70
15 Hull 137 – 3.70
16 Sunderland 111 – 3.00
17 Southampton 111 – 3.00
18 Stoke 104 – 2.81
19 Chelsea 103 – 2.78
20 Cardiff 77-  2.08

As earlier in this season Arsenal have been far ahead of the rest when it comes to injuries. We have had more than 80 injury weeks more than the team in second place which is Aston Villa. Injuries are very much a North London thing it seems as Tottenham is third in this table. Yet again we beat them. Not that this gives us any reason to celebrate this.

When looking at the numbers from Arsenal we see that we had an average of 7.49 or nearly 7.5 players being out with an injury week in, week out. As I said before in the maximum 25 man squad you have usually 3 keepers and thus leaving you with 22 outfield players. This would mean for Arsenal that almost every week we missed 30% of our squad!

I also did the same for the other teams and then you get something like this:

Position-  Team – % squad missing
1 Arsenal 29.95%
2 Aston Villa 21.30%
3 Tottenham 20.97%
4 Newcastle 20.11%
5 Man Utd 20.00%
6 Everton 19.89%
7 West Brom 18.59%
8 Crystal Palace 17.08%
9 West ham 16.86%
10 Liverpool 16.76%
11 Fulham 16.54%
12 Norwich 15.57%
13 Swansea 15.46%
14 Man City 14.81%
15 Hull 14.81%
16 Sunderland 12.00%
17 Southampton 12.00%
18 Stoke 11.24%
19 Chelsea 11.14%
20 Cardiff 8.32%

I know working with averages is simplifying things a bit. Because it doesn’t bring in account the quality of players. In order to do that we would need more data. We could do this for Arsenal of course. Or try to do it.

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Because a player like Jenkinson being one month out is bad for Jenkinson but not a disaster for Arsenal. With all respect to Jenkinson but I had to take an example and I think we can agree that he is not a player that we expect to carry the team during the season. But on the other hand a player like Ramsey being injured is on a scale from 0 to 5 with 0 having no impact and 5 having a big big bad negative impact would be marked as a 10.

If we look at the numbers from Arsenal we see that in fact we had a few category 5 (or 10) players injured for a long time. I will mark Podolski and Oxlade Chamberlain as players on the scale with a score of 3. Both have been missing a very big part of the season.

Take a player like Walcott. Where are the days that Wenger was told that Walcott never would come good. For me Theo is a category 5 player. Last season he was our top scorer and for a few seasons he has been also a master of the assists. I think last season he was good for a total of +30 goals when you added the goals and the assists. Well we have been missing him for more than half of the season! But for fairness sake I will mark him as a category 4 player.

As I will do for Jack Wilshere. Whom I hope will do a Ramsey next season after being completely recovered from his broken foot.

And then we have the engine and the heartbeat of this team. Ramsey and Özil. Ramsey has missed almost half the season. And we have seen what a difference he can make in the few games he played since he came back. Suddenly we had back our speed and the ability to score goals in 1-2-3 and bang it is the bag.

Özil is a class apart. The way he can glide past opponents is amazing at times. The weight he can put on balls is sheer perfection. In the most important moment of the season he was out injured.

And to make things worse…Walcott, Ramsey, Jack and Özil were all out on the same time for a while.

Did Manchester City suffered when they lost Yaya Toure? They sure did and it looked as if the would not recover from missing him till he returned and they started winning again.

Did Chelsea miss Hazard? Of course not as Mourinho thinks he is not good enough. Ok serious now: of course they did. It was while he was injured that suddenly it all seemed to go wrong for Chelsea.

And for both these teams we are only talking about one category 5 player being injured! Arsenal had 2 of them at the same time, with Theo and Jack being close to category 5 players.

Did Liverpool miss Sturridge when he was injured? I couldn’t take Suarez as he wasn’t injured this season as far as I can remember. And the workload for Liverpool was more than 20% lower than the workload for Arsenal, Manchester City and Chelsea. In fact come to think of it… they hardly lost their most important players at all during the season. Which in addition to the rest they could enjoy between the matches will have helped them a lot.

I am certain that if we would have had the luck with the injuries in the same way as Chelsea, Man City and Liverpool would have had that nobody would and could have taken the title away from us.

And looking at the low number of Chelsea injuries the fact that Mourinho has won nothing this season makes it even worse for the special one. No excuses for him: he failed. Failed completely. It sure looks to be a special failure.


The books

22 comments to Those damned injuries

  • WalterBroeckx

    Let me apologise for the fact that after the attacks we had to suffer we are not yet able to publish graphics and tables in the right way. Sorry about that.
    We hope to be able to do this soon as it will make some articles more readable.

  • Pete


    This is absolutely the long and the short of why we have not won the League (although the refereeing and tactical naivety in “those” matches has played a lesser role).

    The only area I disagree with you on is the “luck” in the penultimate paragraph. I accept the contact injury component is not greatly within our control but the non-contact is and we still haven’t fixed it.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Have to agree with you Pete on this well written article. The refs and tactics from certain opposing teams do not help, but the fact that Stoke and pgmol virgins amongst the non first teamers seem to be getting similar problems, and some of the recovery times…eg Ramsey 3 months hamstring…….make me worry there is something else afoot.
    Unlike some, I will not even speculate as to what this something else is, nor will I try and attach blame on something I know absolutely nothing about, but hopefully, the club are as they say looking into all areas of this damaging situation. They have an absolute duty to do no less, and if it is down to the refs, they must make some very strong representations. If these injuries really are beyond our control, we need a very strong rotatable squad to fight on four months, and not peter out as we seem to at times.

  • WalterBroeckx

    I read on the internet somewhere that Gazidis has said that they are looking at it and that they want things to change. Be this with other personal in charge of the medical department or new methods being used I don’t know. But I think the extra long time out from Ramsey pulled a trigger somewhere.
    One month was the expected time out and just when he wanted to return at the end of January he had a setback. Was there at first a wrong diagnose? Was there a wrong recovery method used? Was the healing process not monitored enough? But I think that these extra two months out cost us the league this season.

    Injuries will happen and they happen to most teams but when it comes to recovering from injuries we seem to have extra problems.

  • jim

    The comment yesterday about Wenger’s summer transfer targets and the fact that he’s only after “two or three players” is a major worry, but unsurprising wouldn’t you say? Let’s assume the following depart- Sagna Vermaelen, Fabianski and Bendtner. Arteta has to be replaced as well as his legs have gone. As I’ve said before, Flamini isn’t the long term answer, but he is needed in more games than the Spaniard, who’s just a flat track bully. That means the first team squad needs five new additions. It’s absolute rubbish to say that no club will do anything until after the World Cup. Who are the targets and has there been any negotiations up to now with them? Last summer’s debacle was pathetic and it cost us the League, especially as January’s “endeavours” only produced a midfield crock. If he waits until near the end of the transfer window again, he’ll have wrecked any realistic chances of landing major stars, let alone silverware yet again- that’s inexcusable. I’m sure the other leading Premiership managers will wait until after the World Cup do secure their targets when any leading player’s value will have increased if they’ve played well in the tournament- madness! As for other posters suggesting that Alves or Hazard would come here- that’s laughable. Big players want medals and huge salaries- is that likely at our club?

  • finsbury

    AAA troll cut and paste

  • finsbury

    Yet again Untold leads the way. Where else has it been possible to discuss the consequence of so many broken limbs and bruised bones going back to 2008 and even further (if we include Freddie’s hairline fracture which prematurely ended his career at Arsenal)?

    A shame there are so many Arsenal blogs where they have been unwilling to discuss what they can clearly see happening on the football pitch, and instead prefer to focus on “the dream” of spending or laundering other peoples money. I mean, what kind of clown pines over Hazard when you’ve signed Mesut Özil. Unintentional comic genius 🙂

  • Mandy Dodd

    Hope you are correct Walter, have also read they are looking into things, and lets be honest, they need to. As you point out, Ramsey this winter may have been some sort of tipping point, but he is hot on the heels of the likes of delayed recoveries of TV, RVP, Cesc, Jack, TR, Gibbs,Theo,Ryo, Frimpong, to an extent Ox and Poldi…to name but a few.Diaby is a different case.
    It would be interesting….if highly time consuming to compare recovery times for set injuries at Arsenal to those at rivals. On should not jump the gun with unanalysed data, very bad science, but I know what I may be expecting with such an exercise
    Lets face it, when an Arsenal player goes out injured, you just know he may be …as an Antarctic explorer once said…” gone for some time”..
    Not to say they cannot keep some players fit of course
    As I say, not trying to level blame, but something needs at least seriously looking at. Hear tales of a few behind the scene changes this summer to be announced after the season, could this be amongst them??

  • bjtgooner


    Well spotted!

  • Jax

    Didn’t this all start when Gary Lewin left to join the England medical team? His cousin Colin who does the job now seems to a capable enough physio, but as I remember it we didn’t have these extra long term recoveries over five years ago.

  • Pete

    Mandy – I believe it is Captain Oates you are thinking of!

    I have said this repeatedly for many years, injuries – both the incidences thereof and the recoveries therefrom – are by far the most serious problem the club has – and has had for a long time.

    I find it incredibly disappointing that things have not improved at all. A couple of years ago I calculated that the average 1st team squad player had missed approx 30% of games through injury. Almost exactly what Walter has calculated for this season, albeit via a very different method. The problem is exacerbated through injuries clustering in certain positions – attacking midfield this season, full-backs previously and so on.

    Things have to change. We can’t carry on like this. Even an improvement to 5th in the injury league would give us an extra 2.5 players every game! And getting as far as the median (~4) would give us 3.5 more!!

    Many theories as to the problems – not going to repeat them here.

  • Anom

    Arsenal’s priorities for next season should be sorting out why We get more injuries both long term and short than any other club in Europe EVERY SEASON, it can’t merely be an unlucky coincidence and it needs to be looked into, if it wasn’t for our injuries I think you could safely say that the club would still be in the running for at least one other trophy now. If Wenger stays on he needs to look from the root up where the problem lies. Second off he needs to purchase both a top quality FAST striker that can feed off of Ozil and a solid WC defensive midfielder, a position that hasn’t been filled since Gilberto Silva, Wenger has tried players like Song, Diaby and Arteta in that role but none of them can do the job against the bigger sides, having Flamini has helped a great deal but even he is light weight and will rack up countless yellow cards to compensate for his lack of awareness and strength for that position. As I mentioned previously, Wenger will always get his get out of jail free card with fourth place in the league and probably the FA cup as well if We don’t do another Birmingham in the final, even before Everton got Pullised this week they were showing signs of the jitters against Sunderland, they WILL drop more points and the race for fourth won’t get anywhere near the final days fixtures.

  • finsbury

    AAA troll cut and paste?

  • menace

    The hamstring injuries are caused by lack of warm-up /stretching or by physical damage (knee in the back of the leg). Easy to put these injuries down as non contact but not correct. Physio can help reduce these muscle injuries also diet can. Yoga is probably the best form of exercise to reduce injury as it balances the whole body.

    The basic avoidance of contact injury is to pass the ball quickly. This should not allow the opponent to make contact.

    However, with the PGMOL selective vision and false advantage even this contact can occur.

    Jack has not learnt that he is open to injury trying to dribble past hackers. He gets hacked several times each game because he does not get rid of the ball quickly. Intelligence is an asset when it comes to contact avoidance.

  • jambug

    According to Steven Howard, the Arsenal hating columnist in the SUN “Wilshere is injury prone”

    I can only assume that’s a euphemism for “Wilshere is prone to being kicked off the park” or was that last, unpunished assault on Jack whilst on England duty just a figment of my imagination ?

    These fucking journalists make me sick.

  • jambug,

    The most predictable injury of the season is Wilshere’s. For how long have we been bracing ourselves for it due to the number of unpunished kicking that he was getting?

    Fuck Howard and the rag that he writes for.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Have certainly heard the Lewin changeover mentioned in terms of our injuries Jax, but maybe a tad unfair to the current Lewin, who I am sure does a good job…and lets face it, he is not short on practice. Have heard working in war zones creates some the best surgeons, well if that is true, Lewin must be some sports medic. Certainly was Captn Oates Pete, agree with you on everything you say on the injury front. We still do well, but imagine what we could do, as you say if we reduced this problem. Top of the injury league for the best part of five years is not acceptable, the causes need rooting out and confronting, whatever they are

  • finsbury

    From The Daily Heil:

    “The truth is that Lamela, 22, was injured when he arrived and was so desperate to succeed that he hid a muscular injury following his move to the Barclays Premier League.
    His body compensated in other areas, eventually leading to the diagnosis of a fractured vertebra that has kept him out of a Tottenham shirt since a 15-minute substitute appearance in the 3-0 victory over Stoke on December 29.”

    Lewin’s fault? Not sure which one but either will do.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Fractured vertabrae…nasty, think we have had a few of those types of injuries, Gilberto, Denillson and I think Clichy spring to mind.
    Didnt know that about Lamela,did wonder why such a talented player was not featuring

  • Pat

    Arsene Wenger says there is going to be a full examination of the injury problem, which is good.

    I still say it should be our priority as Arsenal supporters to constantly highlight the behaviour of the referees and how they let our opponents kick us all over the park.

    I was struck when Arsene Wenger said Giroud comes off after every match having conducted 50 battles. We are so lucky that Giroud – 22 goals this season – seems to be incredibly tough. But not everybody can be like that.

    One of my greatest pleasures was seeing Ramires finally banned for a piece of thuggery on the pitch. Not that it benefited us in this case, but maybe it will deter some others. Mind you, not as long as they know they can get off with it when they play against Arsenal.

  • Genorm

    Pat, yes, Ramires banned for dirty play was satisfying, albeit years late. I worry about our best players being injured (thugged) again and again. If Riley’s mob of failed filmstars did their job, then the Arsenal medical team wouldn’t be under such scrutiny. However an appraisal of recovery time and methods is welcome.

  • NW


    All Arsenal supporters must give a lot of credit to Giroud. We know he is not as skillful using his foot but that is partly cover by others.

    He brings a lot to the team beating the physical playing teams and those that park the bus. Arsenal is not losing to them anymore this season. Arteta, Flamini and Ramsey should also get the credit because these guys have no trouble fighting it out with other players.

    I want Arsenal to find a “world class” striker who can pull a shoot out of nothing but the current team need Giroud.