Why Arsenal have so many injuries: the complete analysis

I still can’t quite believe what I saw when Jan Vertonghen, of Tottenham Hotspur, was ruled offside for scoring against Sunderland last week, when he had received the ball five or six yards inside his own half – and the referee was three yards behind him! What makes moments like that worse is that we never hear any explanation after the game from officials about the decisions they make….

That has to change. Managers and players have to face the music after games. Heaven knows, I’ve had some stinkers over the years and had to answer questions about them. Why do we think referees have to be different?

It is not a very exciting piece, and I don’t quote it in the recommendation that you read it, but I do think it is a vitally important commentary for what it does not say and the way it does not say it.  Just look at this…

It was interesting to read Mike Riley’s comments about how they’re trying to improve things. But there’s too much at stake for us just to say: “Mistakes will happen.”

The fact is of course PGMO don’t say, “mistakes will happen.”  They say instead that 97 percent of all decisions in Premier League matches are right.   By deliberately skimming over this fact, the Independent is again ensuring that  PGMO is painted in the light of a bunch of self-satisfied old duffers, but nothing could be further from the truth.

I reviewed what PGMO actually is just recently, and won’t repeat but here is a quick summary.  PGMO is an organisation that

1.  Is utterly secret in all its behaviour and activity.

2. Deliberately limits the number of referees in the PL which enhances the impact of any corruption there might be since some refs take matches involving the same club time and time again

3.  Even with this tiny number of refs has managed to have a geographic inequality among the refs

4.  Doesn’t even have a web site – having suddenly closed it after Untold started probing into what they do.  Someone even removed a short note on Wikipedia’s brief piece about them which said that their accuracy figures had been challenged.

All of this was covered as I say in my earlier piece on the issue of why corruption in football is covered so rarely by the press, and when it is, it is always with the slant towards gambling (defined as done by corrupt Asians and nothing really to do with us in the pure West).  The Italian experiene is forgotten and the thought that through the way PGMO runs football it could happen here, is avoided.

But there is a further implication within this: the question of Arsenal’s endless injury crisis.

There is a number of members of aaa who argue that Arsenal’s injury crisis is due to Arsene Wenger and his faulty training programme.  It is a curious argument, without any proof or even evidence, and which for it to be true would mean that Mr Wenger is deliberately pursuing a policy of injuring his own players year after year after year, and that the board, who could remove him (as many managers are removed season after season) fails to do so in the face of such evidence.

Indeed if this were the case, someone in the coaching team at some time in the last ten years would surely have gone behind Mr Wenger’s back and given the board the evidence.

We looked at the allegations against Mr Wenger and others in an earlier article (details below) and looked at the specific commentary from the Dutch coach Raymond Verheijen.  I won’t repeat all that – you can go back to the original article below if you wish – and that article itself has further links to our research and analysis.

But I do want to pull together two points here.   The media refuse to pick up on the oddity of the PGMO claim of accuracy for referee decisions, and what we actually see.   (And indeed what was found on the Referee Decisions website which drew in commentaries from referees from across the country).  And the media also refuse to consider any reason for Arsenal’s very high injury list other than it being the fault of Mr Wenger’s training methods or the quality of the Emirates pitch, which is thoroughly bizarre since it is relaid each year.

Yet there is another very straightforward explanation.  It is one that I have been told a number of times by people within Arsenal and within the game.  People who of course cannot talk to Untold openly, because when you work for a top club you sign a confidentiality agreement.  And so, my comment that we do get occasional inside information, from the club, and from referees, can readily be dismissed as me living in a fantasy world – I understand that.

But even if you don’t want to accept that others are saying what follows, you might like to consider it from a logical point of view.

Here’s the question: why does Arsenal get more injuries than most clubs, in most seasons?

The media and the aaa have come up with

1.  The training ground or the Emirates pitch has been badly prepared.

2.  The training methods are faulty – players are over trained

3.  The players are rushed back into matches too quickly, largely because Arsenal has too small a squad because Mr Wenger refuses to buy players.

But try these alternatives:

4.  Arsenal play at such a high tempo that for many teams who normally finish lower in the league, the only way to stop Arsenal is through the serious foul

5.  Referees, when faced with an immediate onslaught of such fouls are reluctant to give the fouls.

Now let’s take point five for a moment and see where this leads.  Point five can be explained by

5.1  Referees desperately want to give the chance to let the game get going and then keep it flowing.  They are not currupt, they are not being persuaded to allow the opposition to chop down Arsenal players, they just don’t like being seen as “whistle happy” from the off.   So the opposition choppers are encouraged, and continue, until Arsenal players get hurt, either from one awful attack or through twisting and turning to get out of the way of hacking tackles or through an accumulation of fouls.

5.2  Some referees have been bought, probably through the application of the  Calciopoli system within the Permier League.

Now if 5.1 is true, then the problem that we have is that the PGMO is in denial over the percentage of fouls accurately called, and cards given in keeping with the laws.  If 5.2 is true, then we have corruption.

So Arsenal’s long running injury crisis comes down to these causes:

a) The training methods are wrong and have been wrong for ages, but no one has blown the whistle on Mr Wenger and the board remain unaware.  It seems ludicrous that this has gone on for so long, it seems impossible, and (I can say because I have had it said to me by three separate people very close to such matters) that it is an allegation that causes enormous annoyance with the club – a club remember that is still spending millions on building new training facilities and upgrading existing facilities and equipment.

b) The speed at which Arsenal play means the side needs protection from thuggish tackles, but the refs don’t give this, out of a mistaken desire to let the game flow.

c) A few referees have been bought, and use point b) above as a way of trying to meet their paymasters’ desires, while others are influenced by this approach, which attracts no remonstrations from PGMO who sit glibly spouting their “97% of all calls are accurate” mantra.

It is hard to see how any other explanation can explain the injury level year after year.

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55 Replies to “Why Arsenal have so many injuries: the complete analysis”

  1. Quite true, they are kicked to death and pushede all the time, example debuch, pyushed over, and the referees give nothing, when will it end, it just goes on and on

    When will we get some protection from the refs
    When will it end

  2. Danny made no mention of rotational fouling although he implied its presence.
    The short answer is that our cruel injury record can be laid fairly at the PGMO. To many Arsenal supporters this is not news. One only has to view the GBH perpetrated by Manchester United against our players in the disgraceful battle at Old Trafford a few years ago.
    I can only look forward to the day when high tech assistance and an appeals system will be forced on match officials. Matches will then take longer to complete, but with a bit more integrity.

  3. Hello Arsenal fans,
    Partly I agree with the independent newspaper writer, but the reality remains constant. As an Arsenal fan, I have no doubt that Arsenal is a team which plays super and entertaining football compared to other Premier teams. They take long time to play with a ball, hence, since many opponent players don’t like to be outplayed, they decide to strongly tackle Arsenal players to take the ball as a result this causes injuries to players. This is the major reason. The second is referees to fail to defend Arsenal players. Sometimes I feel referees are subjective to some teams but for Arsenal is different. And also I think Arsenal contingent is very small compared to other Premier teams e.g Chelsea, MNU, Tottenham, ManCity etc. For other mentioned reasons I can’t comment much on that, but I am sure if referees will defend Arsenal players as they do to other players, injuries will be reduced or eliminated totally.

  4. Hello,
    On the issue of playing ground, the concerned authority should take charge to see if the research done is correct. And if found guilty, stern measures should be taken instantly by modernizing the ground. And for referees who seemed to be Arsenal haters, should be told the reality and if possible report them to the proper authority, mind you, clear evidence is needed before all these.

  5. Hear, hear. But who is listening? The whole system is rigged against the kind of football Arsenal play anyway. Can you imagine Barca in the EPL?

  6. @chami:can you explain to me your argument that we have a small squad or contingent as you call it because i don,t see it??

  7. Why is it , that yours is the only website worth reading on football matters ?. It isn`t just from a pro Arsenal standpoint, you begin your piece by illustrating Spurs having a first class goal disallowed, the ref could almost have held Vertonngens hand he was so close, yet no response from Mr Riley
    I am glad you write up about Arsenals injuries. It is totally absurd the Arsenal board would do nothing about it, if it were down to Arsenal management.
    In purely financial terms these injuries have caused great losses to the Arsenal over the years, no board would allow that to continue
    Whilst I support your analysis and agree with it, conceivably we are wrong, however the point you really make is that there is a matter up for discussion.
    Yet what do we see?, no discussion

    Nicky also points out the GBH at Old Trafford. In that same match where Reyes career was effectively finished. Rooney did a dive, got a penalty and joyfully declared “he didn`t touch me”
    Perhaps my memory is fading, but I don`t recall any retro action taken against Rooney for simulation. He could hardly deny it after publicly proclaiming it

    You have been successful over the years getting things looked at, please keep up the good work
    And again, thanks for the article

  8. While laying the blame on officiating & PGMO lets not forget the paymasters – The FA. The FA are ultimately responsible. They collect the payment/cheques for the football information & broadcast. They are the ultimate holders/bearers of responsibility for everything that happens in Football in England. They are source of any corrupt practice & source of any selective blindness of officials.


  9. Thanks Tony!
    While there is some logic behind the notion that refs don’t want to interrupt the game with too many fouls, thus they let fouls go. The evidence from the ref reviews does not support this notion. Firstly, other teams play quickly and mover quickly but we don’t see their players injured to the same level as Arsenal, Secondly, We do not see these teams get biased officiating against them week after week. Arsenal players have been injured by the fouls from other players but it would seem that the source of this is biased officiating that is consistently not calling fouls on teams that foul Arsenal. This is not surprising given that the head of the refs got there in part by not calling fouls on Manu players when they played Arsenal.

  10. Whilst I agree that some of Arsenal’s injuries are due to unpunished fouls (Debuchy being a prime and obvious example), I don’t think we can blame it entirely on the refs (much as I’d like another stick to beat them with).

    The majority of Arsenal’s injuries aren’t foul or impact-related but are muscular in nature. Tweaks, pulls, hamstrings, tendons and ligaments, hernias etc. aren’t things we can blame refs for so easily!

    Whilst blaming the pitches or the training methods is too simplistic an argument for such a complex problem, so too is blaming the referees.

  11. Compelling stuff. I have always been sure that the refs and those who encourage opponents tactics have played a large part of our injury situation, but have also believed that the club inadvertently were doing something else, as witnessed by the number of youngsters not really exposed to the pgmol who get serious injuries, witness Gnabry, Hayden, eisfeld, frimpong, Ryo and so many others. I have wondered if maybe training surfaces, the weight and conditioning of players has played a part. Indeed today, reports suggests that wenger is wary of bulking up players, referring to the new ozil.
    But, with the integrity of this site I can only believe Tony when he refers to inside info. And I have always believed two or three of the refs are corrupt, starting with the Chelsea ref…and that many of the rest are weak, biased or ambitious.
    But you are right, why would the manager or board or indeed players go along with policies and methods that cause injuries causing distress to players, and costing time and so much money. Does Stan seem like a guy to throw money down the drain to indulge a manager he happens to be fond of? Would Ivan really go along with this when our CEO of the year could get a job anywhere?
    This article has finally won me over on the issue of injuries, perhaps for the first time, I join many of the Untolders in that I am now fully convinced they are down to external factors, refs, opponents tactics, media and aaa encouragement.
    But I have only two questions, would be interested to know if the un named sources have ever alluded to any answers
    1/ why are Arsenal on the end of more of this than anyone else?
    2/ why….why aren’t the club doing something about it. Ivan is a very powerful man

  12. Ryan F,
    As the numbers from injury league have shown when it comes to muscular injuries we are not number 1.

  13. Ryan F
    January 24, 2015 at 10:24 am

    Do you have any muscle that can’t get injured by impact?

    90% injuries in contact sport are caused by impact. Some not immediate. How many boxers do you know that have not had muscular injuries due to impact?

    In football some injuries occur during training contact & some due to life style. Fractures do not manifest pain immediately as often adrenalin hides pain. Joints dislocate easily when limbs are twisted under pressure. Muscles contract under impact and can haemorrhage slowly as they expand. The injury may not be felt till the next day depending on the individuals pain threshold.

    A £30 million asset injured is an expense that can be very costly to a club.

  14. I sense a change in the wind though, albeit a very minute change, but still a change. (Maybe?) We are reaping the results of UNTOLD’s work. We got a penalty, when was the last one? Another ref may have not given it, but to have Dean give it, WOW. So let us rejoice for the double win.

    If the ref blew the whistle at the first few fouls and gave a yellow to the more dangerous ones, i’m sure they would probably be in complete control of the game, with every now and then a harsh word, or a stern glance to remind players they are boss.
    Why do they not take control from the off?

    On the other hand we hear commentators sometimes say, he’s lost control of the game, and he needs to regain it soon etc. etc. Mind you i have not heard them say that for a while.

  15. playing too many matches is one of the reason,mr wenger uses key players often and often fatique,stress and injuries will come up as the season progress,i pray sanchez should not break down even though he loves playing regularly

  16. Mandy – complaining can be even more costly than injury. Remember the FA are the Gods of the game in England & in reality are complicit in their appointment of PGMO monopoly to officiate a multi billion £ industry.

  17. When Walcott got injured, when Ozil got injured, can you honestly say you didn’t see it coming? It felt inevitable. Wenger has recently admitted Sanchez is in the ‘Red Zone’ so if Sanchez continues to get played and subsequently gets an injury (hamstring, calf strain etc.) would you say that is the fault of Wenger who has admitted in a press conferance he goes against medical advice?

  18. Fully agree Menace, but surely we have an opportunity to take this on from within.
    If you follow the link and scroll down, you will see Ivan sits on loads of committees, including the PGB which I believe works closely with the pgmol

    I am not having a go at Ivan, I am sure a smart guy like that has very good reasons for what he is or is not doing, and I am sure a david Dein sledgehammer approach in Arsenals favour would not these days work, I gather DD made a serious enemy of Scudamanc at the time, though now, things have mellowed between them.
    but I am just intrigued more than anything else, the club just appear passively to accept some of this shite.

  19. Hitchy, we need some evidence of the press conference you refer to. He said Sanchez is in the red zone, but given the lack of players we had at the time because of the injuries and Giroud’s suspension, not playing Sanchez would also have been a huge risk. You need more evidence if you are going to follow through that type of argument – and it needs to include issues of exactly who was available at the time.

  20. It feels sometimes like there ´s a collective blind eye turned by the refs and the media alike , motd game away to stoke is a prime example, in fact as a ref you can have the worst game of your Life reffing Arsenal without the media raising an eyebrow or showing it for that matter, like C Adam ´s choke on Alexis.
    The PGMOL only responds to media pressure, just like the FA, and you can Tell by the appaling standard of refs at the moment ( overweight. Unfit or simply incompetent) that M Riley pretty much had a free ride so far, As for the media they condone some of the violence like the 2 footed tackle on Wilshere .
    Until that changes , M Riley will carry on stroking his cat on his lap

  21. Hitchy, Wenger rested Sanchez against Galatasaray away, do you not remember? Also, everyone has praised Sanchez for his incredible stamina: Wenger, The Ox, Ramsey, etc. Players are different, Sanchez appears to be extremely fit and robust. It’s not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ thing.

  22. Sanchez WAS in the red zone. With games coming every 7 days fatigue isn’t really an issue. When the CL kicks off again and we get back to mid-week games then we move back to the issue of player fatigue.

  23. Off topic, but Agent Jorge Mendes confirming we missed out on Ronaldo not because wenger is tight or a dithered, but because the stadium payments back then meant we could not pay the twelve million fee.

  24. Wenger’s red zone is ‘player needs rest’ but Alexis wanted to play. If you think red zone refers to ‘close to injury’ then all Arsenal players are there even those making their debuts.

    The FA are culpable for poor officiating. The Laws of The Game are endorsed by them & not PGMO. PGMO only provide the monkeys & clowns for the circus. The FA chooses the music & Wenger / opposing manager decides the tempo.

    We the audience applaud or sigh depending on the action. We do not have the right to change the monkeys & clowns but the FA can replace them with a Ringmaster & assistants.

  25. We play Brighton Sunday. In the Daily Mail, point form, top of the article:

    * Seagulls defender Gordon Greer believes his side will need to be physical
    * Greer is hoping to come up against Arsenal’s first team stars

    Greer is hoping to injure some of Arsenal’s best players. Not just one, many.

    And the referees won’t see a darned thing.

  26. Some good points here and the site in general. I do wish that you would link to other articles when you quote or reference them though, it drives me mad that I can’t easily find what you are talking about half the time. It’s also polite – I’m sure you would like the independent to link to you if they quoted your blog!

  27. When we say its a bone injury, then we can look at that particular game or the game before that to see if the player was getting hit. For the ligament, that’s a bit different. One can see the tackle or the twist of the ankle or knee and again that can be pointed to different things, state of the pitch or the tackles. We can then pinpoint certain injuries to actual events. Then there is the muscle injury. This I feel happens due to excess of training. This happened to me 2 weeks ago. Started training after a long time and pulled my calf muscle. When I started playing football back in ’84 the club back then was run by a couple of boys and they were athletes and the amount of running we did was ridiculous. Ever week was a 10.kms run, plus running on the hill. Nothing much with the ball. 2-3 of us were muscular and it was too much for us. I remember, I was have hamstring trouble or calf trouble. It used to be a nightmare. Now we dont know what AW does with the boys on the pitch but didn’t Ray say that the training methods have remained the same? Is there a possibility that something is there to look at? To change maybe? Can it be just as simple as “its the fault of the ref”. I don’t think so. Especially since what I have been through. This topic is worth exploring in depth.

  28. Sanogo scored? YEEEEEEEHHHHAAAAAAAAAAAW! Let’s Riot! 😀

    I’m starting to really like Pardew 😀 Just me? 😀

  29. 5 minutes of injury time at City, 8 minutes added at Stamford Bridge, hmmm…..Looks like someone didn’t want the underdog to go through.

  30. What the hell is happening this weekend? I understand upsets once in a while but 4 in a single weekend? And ALL were home upsets. What the hell! What a nutter of an FA cup round!

    Southampton 2 – 3 Crystal Palace
    Tottenham 1 – 2 Leicester
    Man City 0 – 2 Middlesborough
    Chelsea 2 – 4 Bradford

    I am getting a little worried about tomorrow…..but COME ON ARSENAL!!!

  31. True AL but all they did was give the underdogs more time to increase their leads.

    Let’s hope that this will put an end to the talking about about Arsenal losing away to Bradford on penalties and the 1-0 home loss to Blackburn from the AAA.

  32. The not so special one gets walloped 4-2 at home against league one Bradford.

    Where have all the Maureen lovers gone?

  33. Yes Bootoome. But knowing these idiots I doubt it. The guy hosting Final Score on BBC just tried to explain Chelsea’s loss to the changes Mourinho made. But the other guy rightfully said Chelsea could have made 40 changes and they still should be good enough for a league one outfit!

  34. Mr. Tony,
    I just told my fiancee that I learnt constructive argument from this site and I must give credit where it is due (Please it isn’t flattery, I’m just saying my mind). Thank you thank you thank you.

    On this article, @Gouresh, I believe the appointment of a new fitness coach is to address possible causes of injuries particularly where the club thinks they (the club) might be responsible

    One thing is certain, attention is being drawn to the anomalies in the Epl, we will wait to see how long they can keep the secret under the carpet.

  35. Terrible day for the aaa Jose lovers. Their world has collapsed, never again will they be able to use the specialist in eye gouging and blaming ball boys as a stick to beat wenger with, at least not without this as a retort. How do they explain what happened today, if that were a wenger team, there would be a never ending shit storm.
    Hilarious day,city, spurs and Southampton as well, just hope our boys done get complacent and add to the tally tomorrow!

  36. Why do Arsenal get high record of injury? (The incompetence of the referees)
    Who is supposed to put the referees in check? (PGMO)
    Are they performing this duty? NOOOOOOO
    So, who then ought to caution the PGMO?(The FA)
    Are they also doing this ? NOOOOO
    Every slave has a master. Who then ought to open the eyes of the FA to this injustice? {THE MEDIA)
    Are they doing that? You and I know that the answer is a resounding NO!
    Why are they closing their eyes to this?

    The answer is found in what happened during Arsene Wenger’s first interview in October, 1996!!!

    Until Wenger pulls out a similar stunt as what happened that day, I fear this will continue. I can’t wait for that day when Wenger will order his boys off the pitch in protest against this injustice. It will be such an amazing event.

  37. Yeah according to Greet Brighton will be using ‘the dark side’ of football tactics and then goes on to justify it by saying Arsenal do the same as well. lewandowski said when playing against him for Scotland that he was “brutal”. Sounds like an amazing footballer..

  38. There are a couple of news headlines bothering me.

    There are a small number of places that have written Diaby off, and there is no news at Arsenal.com about Diaby except that he isn’t available to play.

    We also have a few, that are trying to push Szczesny out of Arsenal. Oh, he has missed too many games, and will lose his place with Poland, and so on.

    By my counting, Szczesny has only missed 2 games, as I don’t think it was ever planned that he would play the FA cup game. If Ospina had of only played the FA Cup game, I would have suggested that the game tomorrow would be his. But, as Ospina has now had 3 on the roll, I wonder if perhaps Martinez is not going to get the start tomorrow (with Ospina on the bench). I am not suggesting there is anything wrong with Szczesny, I just think that the backups were going to get the FA Cup games. And it wouldn’t surprise me if Szczesny wasn’t back in goal for Aston Villa on Feb 1.

    But, I am sure that Wenger has things will thought out.

    Does Bolton toss out Liverpool?

    Seen another BBC muppet, “I don’t know if there was intent.” Intent was removed, you don’t need to guess intent.

  39. OK just found it. Oliver it is. The one who let the assault from a tottenham player on Özil go without a red card, the one who let the studs on the chest on Cazorla go without a red card against Liverpool.
    But apart from that he is called the hope of English referees for the future…. A bleak future is also a future of course….

  40. Oliver, looks like they want today’s trend to continue!
    That high alert , medicals, sightings at airport feeling is getting stronger

  41. @Walter,

    I wouldn’t be surprised if we had some history with Mullarkey as well. Or it could be that the word malarkey comes to mind whenever I hear Mike Riley talk about officiating and “their numbers”.

  42. Isn’t it a great game sometimes. PGMO not working to order as clubs outside the agenda involved in FA cup. The surprises are because some managers think they can do an Arsene & substitute their teams for cup games. SORRY not so!! Wenger knows what to do & when to do it.

    Chelsea 2 Bradford 4. It was embarrassing, shameful & deserved according to the self styled specialist………in failure. There are master tacticians that many refer to & then there is tragedy. Where are you all today?????? Look at your tacticians & weep.

    Arsenal have yet again to face the threat of assault on the football field. I hope the superintendent of police in Brighton/Hove has been informed because it would be nice to see an arrest made. It would bring the issue into world vision in an instant. All it needs is one 999 call to ensure the security of the law.

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