Manchester Airport vs The Arsenal, and that means a lot of talk about INJURIES

By Bulldog Drummond

Talk of the new season being just around the bend means talk of injuries – but this time not so much of Arsenal injuries but of Manchester Airport.  For quite amazingly, in the few days after Untold’s complaints that the media are still banging on about Arsenal’s side being decimated year after year with injuries because of the ineptitude of the Wengerian training techniques, we now have a sudden switch with Sky Sports running the headline

Can Pep Guardiola find a solution to Manchester City’s injury woes?

I suspect Robson’s last outing on Talk Sport finally made the media aware that the man has one or two problems with historic statistic abuse, and so in a story by Nick Wright the point is made that “Manchester City struggled with injuries last season, while Bayern Munich had problems throughout Pep Guardiola’s tenure.”

They then go on to to quote Physioroom statistics (the source we use on a weekly basis in the season) for the clubs with the most players injured.  They only quote the top five, but even so, it is an interesting move away from the gross and false generalisations about such matters.  I am sure it couldn’t be that Sky have taken any notice of Untold, any more than BT took any notice when we raised a bit of noise about the way Arsenal’s official broadcasting partner was running anti-Arsenal adverts in the run up to the season a couple of years ago.  The fact that BT suddenly changed stance was, of course a coincidence.  As is Sky’s change of stance.

Here’s the top five clubs for injured players last season that Sky are quoting.  

Position Club Injuries
1 Manchester City 79
2 Stoke City 73
3 Manchester United 69
4 Liverpool 68
5 Sunderland 62

Arsenal were a poor 14th in their chart.  (And I should add that last December Sky ran the headline “Manchester United have suffered more injuries than Arsenal since start of 2014/15″)

Thus while there is much gnashing of teeth etc etc about Arsenal’s dreadful performance last season, there was even more of the gnashing with Manchester Airport just struggling into the Champions League play off spot.   Manuel Pellegrini said in December, “It is difficult when don’t have your whole squad and you have an average of six or seven players injured every game.”  Maybe Stewart Robson should listen to the tapes.  Or look at the stats.  Or perhaps just keep quiet.

So you would imagine that given the high number of injuries the Airport suffered last year they would bring in a new manager known for his ability to curb injuries and have a calm and quiet relationship with his medical support team.   But look:

In the 2013/14 campaign Bayern had injuries to Thiago Alcantara (15 games), Javi Martinez (12), Franck Ribery (10) and Bastian Schweinsteiger (9).   And then, according to Sky Sports,  in 2014/15 he managed to knock up Philipp Lahm (14), Arjen Robben (13), Philipp Lahm (14), David Alaba (15) and Rafinha (6).

Then when people began to question what was going on Guardiola responded in his normal manner: he blamed the medical staff childishly clapping his hands in front of the faces of his highly qualified medics when yet another player went down injured.  (Problems with medics.  Ring any bells?  Chelsea last season maybe?)

It got to the stage, you may recall, when only 14 first teamers were available.  After further sarcasm Dr Hans-Wilhelm Muller-Wohlfahrt and the entire senior medical team resigned, saying that they could not accept the manager’s interpretation of events.

So the whole medical staff went, and obviously logic suggests if it had been them, rather than their wild and marauding manager with strange training beliefs, the injuries should have gone back to an average level.   But no, even with a new medic team in 2015/16 Jerome Boateng, Benatia, Javi Martinez, Mario Gotze, Robben, Ribery and Juan Bernat missed nine or more games each and Guardiola was seen getting “muy agitado” (you can work that out for yourself) after the Champions League semi-final defeat to Atletico Madrid.

Bild reported that the wild man of player injuries was incredibly angry with his medical staff for taking too long to get his players fit, while claiming that other teams could do it far faster.

Now while much of the English press thinks that when Guardiola approaches a lake it tends to back off in a hurry to avoid him having to walk above it, in Germany he became something of a laughing stock because of his outbursts.  Indeed there was surprise when a team known for its injury troubles (the German press takes the reality version of Premier League injuries rather than the Robson / Talk Sport fantasy version), should be appointed to a club that has multiple injury issues.

But, it may be argued, he kept winning the league and got to three consecutive Champions League semi-finals in a row.   However the reality of German football (often hidden by the British media which love to see it as a model because of its apparent low cost of entry) is not like English football.

In the 21st century Bayern have won the League 11 times.  Their nearest rival is Dortmund with three.  Three other teams have won it once each.  On eight of these occasions they have won the double and once the treble.  There simply is no opposition.  We may laugh at Spain’s two or occasionally three team league, but that looks like tough competition compared to Germany.   The money is never an object, and winning the double is the starting point, the base line, each year.  61% of the campaigns this century have been won by the same team.

So how will the temperamentally unsound one with a penchant for sarcasm towards medics do this year?  Man City have played three pre-season games and had one fiasco in which both they and their neighbours forgot to check that the pitch they were to play on in Foreign Parts, was ok.  Can you imagine what the press would have done to Wenger if it had happened to us?   Here are their results…

  • Bayern Munich 1 Manchester City 0 (20 July)
  • Manchester City v Manchester Utd cancelled due to gross incompetence
  • Manchester City 1 Borussia Dortmund 1 (28 July)
  • Manchester City 3 St Johnstone 0 (3 August)

Because of the money of their sponsor and their knowledge that they are going to suffer a catastrophic run of injuries under their new manager they are buying everyone possible including…

Date Position Player From club Transfer fee
1 June 2016 MF  İlkay Gündoğan Borussia Dortmund £20m
30 June 2016 MF  Aaron Mooy Melbourne City FC Free
1 July 2016 FW  Nolito  Celta de Vigo £13.8m
4 July 2016 MF  Oleksandr Zinchenko  Ufa £1.7m
2 August 2016 FW  Leroy Sane  Schalke £37m
3 August 2016 FW  Gabriel Jesus  Palmeiras £27m
6 August 2016 FW  Marlos Moreno  Atlético Nacional £4.75m

Of course they have to buy, to keep up with expectations and precedent.  Last year they were the biggest spenders and paid out the two biggest amounts: £55m for Kevin De Bruyne from Wolfsburg and £49m for Raheem Sterling from Liverpool.

Here is last season’s league table with net expenditure (ie money out minus money in) added to the end.   Manchester Airport as we know came fourth in the league but were top of the spending charts.  They had a net spend fractionally under eight times the net spend of Arsenal and managed amazingly to get five points fewer than Arsenal and despite Arsenal, as we all know, not having a goalscorer, Man City scored only six more goals than Arsenal!  An amazing achievement.

POS CLUB P W D L GF GA GD PTS Net £m  £ pos
1 Leicester City 38 23 12 3 68 36 32 81  28.9  7
2 Arsenal 38 20 11 7 65 36 29 71  15.6 14
3 Tiny Totts 38 19 13 6 69 35 34 70  -6.7 20
4 Manch Airport 38 19 9 10 71 41 30 66 124.4  1
5 Manchester U 38 19 9 10 49 35 14 66  33.6 5
6 Southampton 38 18 9 11 59 41 18 63  4.8 19
7 State Aid Utd 38 16 14 8 65 51 14 62 26.5 9
8 Liverpool!!! 38 16 12 10 63 50 13 60 15.4 15
9 Stoke City 38 14 9 15 41 55 -14 51  21.3 12
10 Chelsea Oooops 38 12 14 12 59 53 6 50  7.8 17

So finally onto today’s game.  Manchester Airport have Gundogan, Sane and Kompany injured and Samir Nasri is apparently in the dog house for being overweight. We have Wilshere who apparently is fit again but did not travel, back in London, and Welbeck, Mert and Jenkinson out, plus the Euro cup finalists.

There’s obviously not much team news between the Viking game and today so the most likely outcome is that we play mostly players who did not start in the last match.

That leaves us needing to use Gabriel again – which is probably not a bad idea given that he missed earlier parts of pre-season with tonsillitis.  Xhaka obviously plays in midfield, and I guess next to Coquelin who also gets a second game in three days, allowing Xhaka to move forward when he can.

In the attacking midfield Iwobi didn’t start so can come in, with Ramsey in the middle, which leaves one space.  I understand that the Ox has been in training all through the summer to try and prevent any further injuries so he should be the fittest.  He can be replaced by Theo during the game.

All of this means that Gabriel, Coquelin and the Ox come off the pitch either at half time or more likely on the hour making way for the replacements.


Bellerin Holding Gabriel Monreal

Xhaka Coquelin

The Ox Ramsey Iwobi


Adelaide, Akpom, Zelalem, and Willock are the young subs who would then fill in, along perhaps with Chambers.

So off we go again.  Have fun.

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52 Replies to “Manchester Airport vs The Arsenal, and that means a lot of talk about INJURIES”

  1. I think we are going to see quite a lot of holding in the box this season….

  2. blacksheep
    Not too much I think. It’s between him & Chambers to partner Gabriel at the moment.

  3. Oooooh very good.

    I still remember the Test Match commentary from a cricket match between The West Indes and England a few years ago which reduced the rest of the commentary team to tears.

    “The bowler’s Holding, the batsman’s Willey”

  4. The BBC Test Match Cricket commentary team are an example in how to present a sports event. Highly knowledgable and informative but never too full of themselves and normally ready to have a good laugh.

  5. It’s official the community shild is a trophy and that’s from the scummy one mourinho so take that aaa. ☺

  6. Yes, it’s a good job we don’t have anyone called Willey on our squad, or a “Colemanball” would be inevitable.

  7. Ah, The Second Untold Narrative (with appropriate abbreviation The SUN) aka “Arsenal don’t have problems with injuries” strikes again. (The First Untold Narrative aka The FUN is that Arsenal don’t need a new striker.) Sorry, fellas, but this is like that joke about the guy who catches his wife with her lover. She tells him: “I didn’t cheat on you. Come on, who are you going to believe: to your beloved wife or to your own eyes?”

    So, let’s go to the point.

    “In the 2013/14 campaign Bayern had injuries to Thiago Alcantara (15 games), Javi Martinez (12), Franck Ribery (10) and Bastian Schweinsteiger (9). And then, according to Sky Sports, in 2014/15 he managed to knock up Philipp Lahm (14), Arjen Robben (13), Philipp Lahm (14), David Alaba (15) and Rafinha (6).”

    Arsenal in 2015-16:

    Petr Čech (4), David Ospina (2), Hector Bellerin (1), Laurent Koscielny (3), Per Mertesacker (4), Francis Coquelin (10), Jack Wilshere (31), Aaron Ramsey (6), Santi Cazorla (19), Mesut Özil (2), Alexis Sánchez (6), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (13), Theo Walcott (4), Danny Welbeck (25).

    Just to make things clear, I didn’t count matches Cazorla, Wilshere, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Welbeck had spent either with U21 or outside of the match squad due to lack of match fitness. If I had done it, the numbers would have been even higher (i.e. Jack made his debut at 35th league match of the season). Numbers refer only to league games. I didn’t include Arteta to this list simply because he was already semi-retired last season.

    But, given that we only got data for the Bayern injuries, let’s see how our 2014-15 panned out.

    Koscielny missed 8 games as well as Ramsey. Özil had been out for 13 games, Walcott for 12, Ox for 13, Giroud for 9, Arteta for 22 and thanks to those two thugs McNair and Arnautović, Wilshere and Debuchy had spent quite a few games on the sidelines as well so I won’t include them to this list.

    Source: Transfermarkt.

    So, let’s extrapolate these data into the logic of this article:

    “In the 2013/14 campaign Bayern had injuries to Thiago Alcantara (15 games), Javi Martinez (12), Franck Ribery (10) and Bastian Schweinsteiger (9). And then, according to Sky Sports, in 2014/15 he managed to knock up Philipp Lahm (14), Arjen Robben (13), Philipp Lahm (14), David Alaba (15) and Rafinha (6).

    Then when people began to question what was going on Guardiola responded in his normal manner: he blamed the medical staff childishly clapping his hands in front of the faces of his highly qualified medics when yet another player went down injured. (Problems with medics. Ring any bells? Chelsea last season maybe?)”

    As we can notice, in 2014-15 Arsenal had had four players with at least ten games missed due to injuries. As the author of the article included Rafinha with mere six games missed through injury, that qualify three more Arsenal players to this list. But the most appalling thing in the whole article is this conclusion. According to the author of the article, it was Guardiola who “knocked up” five of his players for at least six games in 2014-15.

    Using the logic of the author of the article, who knocked up nine Arsenal players for at least eight games in the same season then? Who was responsible for Danny Welbeck’s (2015-16) and Jack Wilshere’s (2011-12) spells on the sidelines after first reports were saying just three weeks and can anyone find a similar example at any other club?

  8. I think Arsenal will beat Man City tonight to have an undefeated 5 preseason games. Despite beating Barcelona 4-0 at Anfield, Liverpool have indicated how vulnerable they could be in their away travels this coming season as they’ve lost 4-0 to Mainz early today. I think they’ll receive the same 4-0 dropping at the hands of the Gunners when they come to the Ems next week Sunday for the Premier League opener.

  9. Josif you are comparing across leagues and each league is very different. Arsenal had a comparatively low level of injuries within the English Premier League. Bayern had a comparatively high level of injuries within German league.

  10. I think we more or less got the team right. That doesn’t happen very often.


    Bellerin Holding Gabriel Monreal

    Xhaka Coquelin

    The Ox Ramsey Iwobi


  11. Please what of the bench? I want to know if Chambers and Bielik are also sitting there.

  12. Andrew,
    I remember that commentary very well, Johnners(I think) kept sniggering and eventually open laughter raged across the airwaves. For me it was very, very funny and can still feel the tears on my cheeks after nearly forty years. There was a similar one where after Botham was out Hit Wicket(spun around playing a hook shot and cliped his stumps with his trailing leg) and the commentator saying something about failing to get his leg over. Again open laughter over the airwaves.
    I think that football commentators forget that it is at the end of all discussion and opininion, still a game to be enjoyed and not life and death as per Shankly

  13. We have had more chances (Coquelin, Ox, Ramsey)…they scored on their only full chance (Aguera). I really like the aggressive way we are closing down their attackers in the first 2/3 of the pitch. The pitch seems sloppy. A lot of players seem to be slipping.

  14. Do we need Aubameyang? I dreamt Arsenal signed him. Aguero hitting Arsenal 1-0 on 30 minutes into the match via Sterling’s pinpointed pass has underlined the Holding Gabriel CB partnership is not rock solid. And again, the Aguero’s goal was a typical high quality striker’s goal which we too can do with it if the Boss can succeed at getting one before the end of this current window.

    Arsenal MUST equalise and go on to beat Man City in this so called friendly game. For me, it’s a big game in a foreign land.

  15. @GGG,

    It’s Gabriel and Holding playing, Chambers and Bielik on the beach. Spot on about the number of chances and the closing down of attackers by the players. Not bad considering Ramsey and Sanchez’s first game back also. Iwobi looks very strong on the ball as well.

  16. @SAA

    I am satisfied with what I have seen so far. The goal was well taken by City (Aguero is a class striker) but I wouldn’t put too much weight on the Holding-Gabriel partnership (sorry, said earlier that Beliek was on). Partnerships take time and Koscielny will be back soon enough. This is NOT a MUST game.

    It’s a friendly and there is a lot of good to take from it so far. Expect a lot of changes at least by the 3/4 mark.

  17. Kevin Campbell has just repeated for the 200th time at least that we need a central defender and a striker.

  18. Surprising how Refs see a booking for a studs up by an Arsenal player yet ignores several contact foul tackles by City players. The pundits in their wisdom talk about the goals chances & not about the officiating. There were several off sides where Aguero runs before the ball is played but the official on the line is not square to the last defender & does not ‘see’ the off side when the ball is passed.

    Situation normal. The City players are brutish in their tackles yet go down like chickens when touched. It seems to work well because the official gives the foul for them.

  19. Started from Rambo going down when fouled. It makes a difference. Watch Sterling he goes down faster than the exchanges at Brexit!

  20. Our squad sure looks more solid this year.

    And, Cazorla makes a big difference with his ability to settle the ball.

  21. I thought Ianacho was off side when the ball was played. Good goal if it was on side.

  22. I’m following the SportsMole coverage (commentary), mostly because there was little else. It’s more or less been negative on Arsenal all game. Arsenal missing chances all over the place, must be poor players. And now with the 3-1 score line, it isn’t Arsenal skill or play or desire that is getting the goals, it is fault of ManCity giving the goals to Arsenal.

    It sure would be nice to find a neutral source of commentary.


  23. @Gord…I’m watching the stream. It’s been quite good since whatshisname left.

  24. Nice game Arsenal.

    Hopefully Gabriel isn’t hurt too seriously. Tonsils and ankle in a pre-season?

    GGG, thanks but I am only looking for text. is flash, which is a security nightmare.

  25. Gord – it was a good game & Arsenal missed a lot of clear chances early on. The score was not unfair but the injury was unnecessary. The City player (Ianacho) didn’t get the ball & sat back onto a squat Gabriel who had just played the ball & was on his haunches. Gabriels boots were planted & could not flex to prevent injury.

  26. The Boss has played all the Gunners’ defenders available to him for selection in the 5 friendly games Arsenal have played. And as I’ve expected the Gunners have put Pep Gaurdiola’s Man city team to the sword. if it were a 3 point Premier League match, Arsenal would have had all the 3 points in the bag.

    Ahead of our BPL home match against Liverpool this coming Sunday, I hope the Boss would make the right selection of defenders who will not give cheap goal away to any Red as they have gave to Aguero and Iheanacho tonight.

    This defeat of Man City tonight will not make the Boss to start to panic buy at the transfer market. Which if the Gunners had lost the match, the Boss could be forced to start a panic buy of a senior proven goals scorer and a senior CB.

    Nevertheless, I hope the Boss will still keep to his promise to buy a proven goal finisher like Aubameyang. And also get that experienced center back to instill more defending discipline at Arsenal back four.Though I trust Holding, Chambers and Bielik to all come audacious for Arsenal this coming season as they’ve shown already in the friendlies they will for Arsenal. This top regular goals scoring finisher will cost Arsenal some good money to procure. But if it’ll come to that to win the BPl title and other titles this coming season, let the Boss please get him for Arsenal. As we can see a lot of goal scoring chances were missed by the Gunners today against Man City due to poor finishing.

    I rest my case for now.

  27. I wonder whether Walcott’s performance, his splendidly taken goal and an assist, will temporarily quieten the vociferous minority who advocate that he should be sold.

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