By Tony Attwood
The argument hasn’t just been that Arsenal has had lots of injuries, but rather that
a) they had more than anyone else
b) it is all Wenger’s fault.
The second follows from the first, because if it ever turned out that Arsenal didn’t suffer more with injuries than anyone else, then there would be no fault to be analysed. Arsenal would be just a regular team in injury terms.
I have been trying to argue this point for some time, just based on the number of players out at any one time – the data provided by Physioroom.com.
And this is a good time to look at the issue again because following the recovery of Tomas Rosicky it has been announced along with the news that three more of the squad returning ahead of schedule. Danny Welbeck, Jack Wilshere and Francis Coquelin all took part in training on Friday.
Now that doesn’t mean they will be out and about, ready to play, but give it a couple of weeks and you never know.
However at the same time the BBC and Physioroom have kindly done the work I had thought about doing but found too complex and time consuming – at least during the season (there is a note in my diary to look at this again in late May).
What I wanted to see was not so much the week by week injuries totals, but the number of days missed by injury of members of the first team squad during the season thus far, the total number of injuries during the season, how many players were injured and how this relates to the position in the league.
And the new analysis shows for sure that Arsenal are very much in the mid-table for injuries. We don’t suffer more injuries than anyone else, and thus the whole issue of injuries is nothing to do with Wenger’s training methods.
The figures also show that the wild and crazy accusations from Raymond Verheijen are as Untold has repeatedly said, wild and crazy.
“The former Wales fitness coach has repeatedly blamed the work-load on Arsenal’s players for injuries and was again critical of what he called the “old school” approach of Wenger,” screamed the Telegraph several times over.
But it is all total nonsense. Invented. Mad up. No truth in it at all. A bit like saying Ozil doesn’t know how to pass the ball, and then everyone repeating the story until people start to believe.
So to the figures…
Let us start with days missed through injury. For Arsenal the number is 465 player days this season.
Bottom of that league is Watford with 182 player days lost. That makes us look bad – 2.5 times worse than Watford. But top of this league is Newcastle with 1042 player days lost. 2.25 times worse than us.
In fact on this measure – the number of days first team players have been out with an injury, we are 8th in the league. Below Leicester on 184, but otherwise above all the big clubs. Watford are, as I write, 10th in the league – so probably benefitting from the lack of injuries by being in a higher position than they might have expected.
In short the clubs with low numbers of days missed generally tend to be in the lower half of the table. Clubs like West Brom, Swansea, Norwich, Southampton, Chelsea… (Chelsea have 428 player days missing, to our 465.
So let’s look at the top of the league (before the Tottenham result is in today)
- Arsenal 465 players days lost
- Leicester 184 player days lost
- Manchester City 769 player days lost
- Tottenham Hotspur 668 player days lost
- West Ham 583 player days lost
- Manchester Utd 752 player days lost
OK, we are doing better in terms of player days lost than our main rivals other than Leicester. But I am endlessly told you can proven anything with statistics. So what about…
The total number injures this season
Watford have 10, again top of the league. Norwich are second on 11. Arsenal are on 22 which on this measure places us 7th. Again not far from the average.
The top of the league by points, but now showing the total injuries this season reads
- Arsenal – 22 total injuries
- Leicester – 15 total injuries
- Man City – 47 total injuries
- West Ham – 26 total injuries
- Tottenham 27 total injuries
- Man U – 39 total injuries
And the final analysis – how many players injured?
Some players have been injured twice, so these numbers will be lower than the total injuries table.
The lowest is nine, which is the number four clubs have achieved. The highest is 20, for Man U and Man City. Arsenal are on 14. Again pretty near the middle.
Once more the low numbers are generally associated with teams in the lower part of the league, and Leicester. In fact Leicester on nine players injured could be seen as very lucky as all the other teams on this number are much lower down the league.
Here is the league table showing players who have been injured this season.
- Arsenal – 14
- Leicester – 9
- Man C – 20
- Tottenham – 15
- West Ham – 17
- Man U – 20
Conclusions – and they are rather concerning.
What these tables suggest is that clubs higher up the league get more injuries. The exception is Leicester whose success may in part be down to their comparatively low number of injuries.
Now this is contrary to normal expectations – common sense (that awful concept that so often leads us astray) has it that the more successful teams are successful because they get fewer injuries.
In fact it seems that the teams up the top of the league get pushed and kicked by lower table less skillful, more desperate opposition, who are doing last second tackles to avoid a goal against, resulting in more injuries. Worse, the lower table clubs do this because they know they get away with it. Just look for example at the Southampton match, and see how every time he took the ball Ozil was thumped violently in the back. No foul given.
Fortunately that did not result in injury, but players who are tackled by less adept opponents from lower level clubs tend to get injured more.
All of which shows that the whole “Wenger and injuries” saga in which it is suggested that he uses the wrong training methods, has the wrong type of training pitch, the wrong diet etc etc is based on an utterly false premise – that Arsenal injuries are worse than other clubs.
They aren’t. It is all totally made up and invented.
So back to the current situation, Mr Wenger said, “Welbeck is two to three weeks away, and I am confident that I will not find a better player on the market.” The aaa will bemoan our lack of transfers, once again, but they really ought to study the facts.
This is an absolutely perfect example of journalists making up a story in order to bash Wenger and Arsenal, followed by the pathetic aaa leaping on the story.
That no one found out this whole sorry invented saga of Arsenal and injuries was quite untrue is down to all of us – including myself – not doing the work. But as I say, there is a lot of evidence needed, and the BBC was able to call on a lot of data that Physioroom don’t have on their site. Yes I could have done it but it would have taken days, and I do also have my businesses to run.
However now we know.
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