Running players in the ground

By Walter Broeckx

One of the things people use against Wenger is the expression “he runs X in the ground”. He plays that player and then again and again and again till he gets injured.  And the of course it is the fault of Wenger when this player then gets injured. That Wenger playing the same player because of other injuries and the fact that he cannot change him by another player is usually ignored.

But maybe it is a good thing to see at how the team that is standing in the first place is doing. The team where Mourinho does the job and who is far superior to Wenger , or so they claim.

For the sake of simplicity I will only look at outfield players. And when we look at Chelsea we get this after  matches.

Ivanovic 16

Cahill 16

Terry 16

Hazard 16

That is 4 players out of 10 that started each and every match. And 3 of them are from the back 4. So they had the honour of never really having to play defenders out  of position. And this brings defensive stability of course.

We continue.

Fabregas 15 matches

Matic 15

So they only missed one match so far.

But that is 60% of their team almost being omnipresent during the season so far.  I think Arsenal hardly got to a situation where we could keep 60% of our players fit for the next match.  Let us continue.

Oscar 14 matches

Aspilicueta 13 matches

Costa 13 matches

Willian 11 matches.

And that brings us to 10 outfield players in total. 9 of them played at least 13 matches. 13 matches out of 16.

So why is nobody out there saying that Mourinho is running his team in the ground?

Compare this with Arsenal where there is only 1 player who has played 16 matches and that is Per Mertesacker.  Alexis has 15 matches on his counter and is second. A big difference is that a lot of our players have just around 11 matches in total. And from our standard defence we have Gibbs with 12, Koscielny with 8 and Debuchy with 6 starts.  We had 42 starts out of a possible 64.  That is a disaster compared to the stable Chelsea defence who had 61 out of a possible 64.

A team that has to chance their defenders from match to match cannot come to a unit. A unit we had for most of the last season apart from a few matches. But this has gone out of the window because of our injury situation.

But I will now come back to the running in the ground remark. Because one has to chose I think between building a unit or always changing a team. Changing out of free will or being pressed to by injuries.

Mourinho clearly has chosen for as little rotation possible. The running in the ground method one could say. Nobody is criticising Mourinho for going that way. Au contraire, people fall over each other to praise Mourinho as such a great genius manager. And on the other hand they blame Wenger if he does the same with 1 or 2 of his players.

If my memory is a bit correct I remember that last season we had a similar situation for a long period. A period with rather few injuries. And in that period we ran away from the rest and took the lead and stayed there for a very long time. And then the injuries came and Wenger was blamed for running his team in the ground.

And yet Mourinho (far superior manager than blah blah blah) didn’t learn his lesson and does the same. Maybe because he has the luxury to do this as he has very few injuries for the moment. And maybe because top managers prefer to use the same team when it is performing as much as they can.

But isn’t it strange that a manager who could rotate at free will still keeps on playing the same people all over again in the PL?  One could say that in a way it is a bit funny that Mourinho does exactly what the moaning brigade castigates Wenger for? As they usually refer to Mourinho to have a dig at Wenger. And yet…

I think having few injuries is the best way to keep a team on a good run. And that is very much lacking at Arsenal this season. And I think injuries are not that much down to playing a lot of games but more about getting much kicked or not. As our articles have shown a few months ago with Arsenal suffering much more injuries from kicks than any other team in the PL.

Kicking out at other teams seems to be a better way in keeping your players fit then being on the receiving end of the kicks. Ask Jack. Ask Abou. Ask Eduardo. Ask Bacary…twice, ask Olivier, ask Aaron… the list is long. Terribly long.

Of course looking at the numbers and comparing the two teams one could say that Chelsea will falter (we all know that Fabregas will hit bad form in the next months as he always has before – or hope) and maybe just maybe imagine with all the players returning for Arsenal we could start a run and hit unseen heights?

Untold Index





21 Replies to “Running players in the ground”

  1. So the only thing we can ” blame ” Wenger for is that he (or the club,choose your pick) is not able to get the refs to protect the players better.

  2. Interesting analysis. To be complete it would be good to know how many of those Chelsea players played a full 90″ and how many start in non PL games

  3. Thanks Walter, as ever the stats tell a different story than popular perceptions.
    Yes, Chelsea seem to have less problems,with injuries than our players, there may be several reasons, their MFs are bigger for a start, they tend to be on the kicking side, and they get rather a lot of protection from refs. In fact, refs seem almost a bit star struck with some Chelsea players. Think Cahill is in the running for the shearer/Gerrard/Rooney protectected species award. A shame Jack is not a contender, in fact, he could not be further from it.
    I will stick to my guns, I still believe refs are a big part of ours injury problems, but I also believe,there is some other unknown that needs addressing, but you have exposed the lack of rotation thing as a myth.

  4. There is absolutely no doubt that having a team full of first choice players for extended periods would’ve aided Arsenal’s quest for a better placement on the log. A good run is just around the corner, when most of the lads would have been back to the field of play.

    Doubters are welcome to do their slating , for now. Once we have our best legs available and in form, then things are bound to change very quickly and dramatically for us. All is not lost. Traders in doom will soon be out of business. There’s still much to hope for in this season; and am not even talking about who we’re going to buy in January. This team is not as bad as some will have us believe; even with all the underachieving in recent matches.

  5. I suppose it’s too early for the new medical regime to have formed an opinion about our cruel injury record.
    Arsene Wenger has always appeared anti-rotation in principle so it is difficult to pinpoint that as one reason for the dismal statistic.
    There can be little doubt, however, that our Club compares with others in the top flight, very unfavourably indeed.

  6. The fact that Chelsea players are a lot less injured compared to Arsenal is also because they are more experienced and more ruthless. Mourinho never plays raw youngsters, we all know that. More ruthless, I mean by literally, they only care about themselves and will do anything to achieve their goals by any means necessary. Even by murdering their opponents, no ethics and code of conduct. The media sees this as the ‘we against the world’ mentality. Only its actually ‘Mourinho against good’ chess game in which the players are pawns. His problems with players in Real Madrid who initially support him, a prime example. Reminds me of the movie ‘Wolf of the Wallstreet’. As the motto at this blog suggested, AW is a lot more different. His respect is also extended to the very people who insult and bully him. This season, he has really moved to a higher stage by taking everything to his chin and soldier on. If the players can’t look at him as an inspiration, I don’t know what else works for them then. Of course the AAA won’t see this because they are all actually the ‘I’m against world’ type, but actually using and manipulating people around them to achieve personal goals. Or are they the pawns of the anti-Arsenal media?

  7. There is another element that crucially diminishes a club’s ability to perform at the same level week in and week out,from a managerial point of view. That is the necessity of starting every other game with a new defensive lineup or defensive midfield duo. Imagine that 25-30% of your colleagues called in sick over a week at your work. That would be a catastrophe for those still on the job and an even bigger headache for theose who manage the business. Where will the company find replacements to cover for those missing 25% of employees over a week….now extrapolate that situation over a 38 game Football season where almost 50% of the first choice starting 11 are unavailable over 10-12 games or more! Wenger has performed a miracle in keeping the balance and focus, as well as the spirit and confidence of the team at such a high level. Our record over the last 10 games (all competitions) is W:6,We earned D:2 L:3 which isn’t too shabby for a team missing 7 starters!

  8. It’s not just the number of games people play, it’s the amount and intensity of training inbetween matches and the amount of downtime and rest days players get.It’s too ssimplistic just to talk about the number of games played.

  9. I don’t usually talk about a team unless that team is playing with Arsenal. My priority is always on how Arsenal will win their next game. And their next game now is with QPR at the Emirates Stadium on Friday, 26th Dec 2014, a LKO game. That’s the game which I will principally focus on. But ofcourse, I will be looking at the results of all the games and considers the clubs placement in the league table to see the gap between them. What is being practiced at Chelsea may not necessarily work at Arsenal. Because they are different club with different manager, back-room staff and players. Chelsea may rarely rotates but Arsenal could, if it becomes necessary for the boss to do so. Chelsea hardly have any major injuries unlike Arsenal have been having. Most of Chelsea players could play many games without getting much tired as they are seen to be strong. Whereas most Gunners save a few may not be able to consecutively played many games without getting tired, lose form and probably picked-up injuries. The need to rotate players at Arsenal could be necessary than it would at Chelsea. MY AUDACIOUS-ARSENAL STARTS: Szczesny..Debuchy..Ajayi..Chambers..Gibbs. Flamini/Coquelin/Podolski. Sanchez..Cazola..Welbeck. Giroud. It’s a 4-2-3-1 unique playing style formation that will definitely be AFC 3-0 QPR. The 3 CDMs of Flamini, Coquelin are the 2 main CMDs with Podolski as the holding attacking CDM who should all start. Sanchez and Welbeck to attack centrally behind Giroud. Podolski to be tracking-back to cover the overlapping LB Gibbs. And Flamini tracks-back to cover the overlapping RB Debuchy. Coquelin covers Ajayi who should deputize for the tired BFG. Cazola creates the chances as he roves about. I think the the boss should be audacious by trying this unique unfailing new playing formation and makes one change at CB. Tired BFG and not very fit Oxlade should rest for the West Hammers game.

  10. Sure, Chelsea players only practice one day between games (and only a 1 hour practice), and play billiards one day between gamd and practice and play bowling one day between practice and the next game.

    Go crawl back under your rock tunnygriff.

    How much were you paid to write that, by the way?

  11. Hahahahahahahaha

    Are you real tunnygriff!!!!…

    I don’t understand this shit thrown around about ‘intensity’ of our training. Intensity doesn’t mean full bloody murderous tackles. Intensity is about passing. Speed.Precision.

  12. I think Chel is going to burn and slow down a little in the next 2 months. The players cannot ever go a full season with all the games to play, plus they are bound to get injuries too.

    We have been forced into rotation due to injuries, and i think it is a good thing in the end, because others get to play, building their confidence and slowly fitting into and doing their part in the team.

    Our injured players are slowly about to return, and should be now fit to the end of season(i hope). I just hope it is not too late to make a long run to the end of season now.

    There seems to be two kinds of AW outers:
    They want AW to spend money on the best players by paying massive fees and wages regardless. They want glory at any cost.
    They want AW to leave because they think he has lost the overview of the modern game and has no tactics.

    What both do not realise, is that the vision of Arsenal(to build a football empire) is not the same vision they see(win glory at all cost and risk), and until they actually come to see that(as i did), they will continue to complain.

  13. When egorinio was in the EPL the last time, he was asscued of some strange injury treatment. I recollect that they would pump on O2 rich blood to injured players to heal the injury quickly and it was termed legal? Could they be doing something similar between matches help recover?

  14. why does the boss keep playing chambers at wright back when we all can see he is not this is why he keeps picking up bookings i say try him as a holding midfielder i think he could do the job for us

  15. The difference is that the oilers get rubbed with mineral oils while The Gunners have to smelt bronze for making statues of great players & trudge up & down the mines. The PGMO recuperate on yacht cruises that have to be postponed due to rouble diving.

    (ninja) 😀

  16. Year after year we seem to get a lot of injuries mid season .We cant always blame it on opposition players because a lot of them are muscular injuries and setbacks from previous injuries.Take our injury king Diaby for example .He was initially injured from a really bad tackle 5 years ago ,but is that contributing to the 235 injuies he has had since??No he is just unlucky that his body cant cope with the rigours of professional football and should be offloaded not offered a new contract.No manager in his right mind would be still paying diaby 80k a week when he is finished.Jack and theo, if not managed correctly will go down the same route.Some players due to size ,the way they play and luck can play more games than others ..Thats sport and life.How many injuries has sanogoal had since he arrived??He arrived injured to start with.Him being a striker at a top 4 club is a different matter.
    To start to blame referees is nieve we need to look more closer within the club

  17. @Nick Lee
    I think you will find that Wilshere’s last two injuries have been the result of bad tackles, McNair’s terrible challenge in the Man U game and Agger in the England/Denmark game when he broke Jack’s foot.
    May I just add the pathetic reference to Sanogo (sanogoal) is typical of your mentality. I bet you used to like the Flapianski one too.

  18. Its possible there are many reasons why we suffer so badly with injuries. It has been said that our high tempo passing game means we must train at a quicker pace than some. It also seems obvious that referees are more than happy to allow our players to get kicked. The fact that our squad has a lot of small, quick players might have something to do with it too.
    Lets hope we discover the reason, because we are denied the chance to compete every season with our seemingly ridiculous injury list. I firmly believe that the purchase of a few bigger, more robust players in defence and midfield would help. We could do with a few bigger bodies attacking/defending set pieces too.

  19. I’m 100% sure this wouldn’t change the numbers a whole lot, but limiting the sample to Premier League games strikes me as a bit pointless. There’s not a player in the league that would be fatigued from 16 games played in a 4 month period. This exercise really needs to look at appearances from other competitions, and probably internationals as well to really be worth much.

  20. Interesting comments from Wenger

    England remains the only major league in Europe without a winter break. After more than 18 years working here, Wenger regards the festive schedule as a tradition that must be preserved but thinks there should then be a break in January.

    “Is it a coincidence that the German national team has always done well in the big tournaments when England hasn’t? It is just Germany who has the longest winter break among the big countries. They always do well in tournaments because they have refreshed players.”

    Wenger says that the German structure allows the players to have two weeks off and then return to training for the resumption of the Bundesliga. He acknowledged, though, that some English clubs could be tempted to use any winter break to go on lucrative tours abroad.

    “That is the problem. You don’t go on tour, but you give two weeks off and then you prepare like the German teams do. They stopped on Saturday, they come back on the beginning of January.”

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