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February 2021

Arsenal near the top of the injury list, so which back up players do we have?

By Tony Attwood

One thing is absolutely certain; Arsenal will get injuries this season.  And when they come along the people who really do nick a living in football – the journalists – will be there with their Arsenal Injury Crisis.

Indeed I am surprised they haven’t been at it today, given that Arsenal are second equal in the injury table as of today, using the stats.   We are beating Southampton whom we play on saturday, 7-3.

1 West Ham United 8 W Reid
2 Stoke City 7 M Diouf
2 Arsenal 7 S Mustafi
2 Liverpool 7 S Mane
5 Everton 6 D Gibson
5 Middlesbrough 6 G Friend
5 Hull City 6 J Tymon
5 Sunderland 6 F Borini
9 Manchester City 5 S Aguero
9 Crystal Palace 5 Y Cabaye
11 Southampton 3 F Forster

The list isn’t quite as frightening as it might seem however – here are the players and their return dates…

Player Injury Return date
S Mustafi Ankle Injury September 11, 2016
A Ramsey Hamstring Injury September 10, 2016
A Iwobi Thigh Muscle Strain September 10, 2016
G Paulista Ankle Injury October 15, 2016
C Jenkinson ACL Knee Injury November 1 2016
P Mertesacker Knee Injury January 2, 2017
D Welbeck Cartilage Knee Injury February 4, 2017

Again I have taken that from the regular source, and I am not sure why Mustafi has a return date of sunday, when the papers are by and large saying that, to quote the Standard, “Shkodran Mustafi remains in line to make his Arsenal debut against Southampton next Saturday after emerging unscathed from Germany’s friendly against Finland.”

The story is that he “went down in some pain after rolling his ankle in a challenge with Finnish forward Robin Lod early in the second half of Germany’s 2-0 win in Monchengladbach. Though he returned to action during the match he appeared to be in some discomfort.

“However it is understood that Mustafi’s injury was not one to cause excessive concern to either Germany or Arsenal, who remain confident that their new signing will be available when Southampton arrive at the Emirates next weekend.”

So maybe it is just a slip by the compilers of physioroom and it should be September 10 that is his return date.

What is interesting however is that although Ramsey and Iwobi are also noted as being available for saturday, there is no need now to “rush them back” since we have such an array of talent covering those positions.

Back with Mustafi, here’s his injury history

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Season Injury From Until Days Games missed
16/17 Sep 1, 2016 Sep 1, 2016 0 days
15/16 Dec 21, 2015 Jan 7, 2016 17 days
15/16 Nov 23, 2015 Dec 7, 2015 14 days
14/15 Dec 8, 2014 Dec 11, 2014 3 days
13/14 Jun 30, 2014 Aug 25, 2014 56 days

That is not bad across three seasons, and it add to the hope that he will be available, although if there is any doubt I suspect that with PSG coming up, he might well be given the extra couple of days to recover and so make his debut in Paris.


Laurent Koscielny is not injured but played in the France game away to Belarus on Tuesday as did Giroud.   If Mustafi is held back – not least to get in some time practising playing with Giroud then obviously Holding will play at centre back again.

Which then in turn raises the questions about who the back ups are – or at least who the back ups are who are fit.

From the over 21 squad we have


Player Position Date of birth
Kieran Gibbs LB 26 Sep 1989
Emiliano Martinez GK 2 Sep 1992
Matt Macey GK 9 Sep 1994
Mathieu Debuchy RB 28 Jul 1985
David Ospina GK 31 Aug 1988
Yaya Sanogo Forward 27 Jan 1993

From the under 21 squad list (who don’t have to be listed in the 25) we have 

The following U21 players are included in our First Team Squad

Player Position DOB
Rob Holding CB 12 Sep 1995
Chuba Akpom Forward 9 Oct 1995
Jeff Reine-Adelaide Forward 17 Jan 1998

I’ve obviously left out long term injured players and players who make fairly regular appearances in the first team.

Which raises the question, which of these players really are ready to play for the club if needed.  Gibbs, Ospina and Holding have all shown they can step up when needed.   Akpom showed pre-season that he most certainly can score, and it is interesting that this year he is the player chosen by the manager NOT to go on loan – normally a sign that he can expect some bench warming followed by occasional ventures forth.

Jeff Reine Adelaide spent a lot of time on the bench last season, doing what others had done before him, but his breakthrough in the style of Iwobi didn’t come.  But he certainly could step up this season.

That leaves us to consider Mathieu Debuchy who didn’t go on loan again, and wasn’t sold.  It has been said he is carrying a knock, but he is not appearing on the injury list so I guess that is not the case.   We need a back up right back – but the question is, will it be Debuchy or Jenkinson?  (You will remember that through the summer the story was that Barcelona were clicking their fingers and that Bellerin would at once be off.  Strangely, no one mentions these stories once they don’t happen.) 

Yaya Sanogo’s presence in the 25 list surprised a lot of us, and it is said (again) that he is injured, but he is again not on the physioroom list.  He certainly only appeared briefly in training sessions at the start of the pre-season period, which would have suggested that he would be frozen out.  But maybe there is a way back.

As for Ospina, no newspaper will ever write about him without mentioning one mistake in the Champs League.   But this is like the Guardian’s infamous “Arsenal only have two players who scored 10+ goals last season in the Premier League”.   Without knowing comparative figures the tale is pointless.

In terms of the goalscoring, it turned out the real truth was that Arsenal were one of only five clubs that had two players scoring 10+ goals.   I suspect that if we were able to put together a table of significant goal keeping errors we’d find Ospina right down the bottom of the league table for number of significant errors made.

Certainly he was superb in the summer Copa America.  Cech is now 34 and although goalkeepers go on for ever if he does get a knock he’s liable to be out for longer than before, so having a quality keeper on the bench is going to be vital.

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6 comments to Arsenal near the top of the injury list, so which back up players do we have?

  • SamuelAkinsolaAdebosin

    Even if Mustafi is given an extended rest but start the Saints match on the bench, thank God we have Rob Holding who is more than capable to hold fort as a top centre-back option for us. Therefore, there is no cause for alarm at our CB positions on Saturday. But I hope Koscielny is not having any back-pain scares. If he has, there will be a problem because Monreal who is another CB option is said to be an injury scares in our game to Watford and we don’t have Calum Chambers now to call upon. I never wanted him to out go on loan but Le Prof has the final say.

    By and large, Le Prof still has an array of top Gunners to do a strong 18 man match day squad selection from for Southampton to beat them to all the 3 points at stake despite some Gunners could have suffered from international games fatigue and may not be available for selection. At any rate, we’ll know better when Le Prof does his update of Gunners and his Southampton match press conference.

  • Omo r'Arsenal

    Not a scary scenario yet until we can assess the performance of the stand-ins after the Saturday match.

    I believe our faith and hope in them will be justified.

  • Mandy Dodd

    On what I saw last Sat, we could probably draft in Hoyte, Boa Morte, Freddy, Manu and Kanu if the injuries got too much

  • Goonermikey

    In answer to your Ospina conundrum (vis a vis the shallowness/ineptitude of the media) I thought I’d have a look for some evidence.

    Having tried hard to find a table based on goalkeeper errors I’m afraid I conceded defeat. However I did come up with a table which showed shots on goal, saves and goals conceded which gave enough material to be going on with. Based on those figures I gleaned the following.

    (NB. 47 GK’s were used in the Prem last year, I have based the following on a minimum of 4 appearances (since this is how many Ospina made) since those who only played a half a game or one or two games distort the findings unreasonably. I therefore base findings on 36 GK’s.)

    So what did we find?

    Well obviously GK’s in lower placed teams face a lot more shots so it’s important to look at shots on target and the percentage of those that are saved. On that basis there’s quite a surprise at the top of the table in that McCarthy at Crystal Palace is way out in front as he was able to save 82% of the shots on target he faced. In second place was our own Petr Cech with 78%…………..and the rubbish Ospina was a mere 4th (let’s not forget, that’s out of 36) with 77% saved.

    So what about all those fantastic keepers the media tell us about, I hear you ask. Well here’s a reasonable cross section.

    The Champions’ own Schmeichel was a mere 8th with 74%, while Lloris of the Tiny Totts could only manage 12th with 73%. Meanwhile the media proclaimed best in the country, David De Gea was languishing in 14th with 72%. And what about the man who replaced our own Petr Cech? Surely he must be better otherwise Maureeniho wouldn’t have bought him. Well I’m afraid Mister Courtois was even further back in 16th place having only saved 71%. A worthy mention too for the chap who has been (apparently wisely) banished from the Etihad this season, the “England stalwart”, Joe Hart, came in in 25th with a miserable 67% (just 4% ahead of Loserpool’s Mignolet with 63%!).

    So, as you so correctly surmised Tony, the tale of Ospina’s goalkeeping is just more media bias based upon everything but real facts!!!

    Fortunately for me I’m on a flight in the morning for a little break. I land at a Spanish airport which I assume has gone back to its original name having, for a short period, been temporarily renamed, “Gary Neville’s Valencia Airport”………………………………………………….

  • timo

    Mustafi trained today with Ozil, and Lucas . photos on Arsenal official site

  • ClockEndRider

    And Iwobi.
    Apart from that, the injuries site is spot on……