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.
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.
Fabregas 15 matches
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?
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