by Tony Attwood
Arsenal, as we all know, get the most injuries of any club playing in the Western Spiral Arm of the Galaxy. We know this because S Robson esquire and a guy who once coached Wales have told us over and over and over again.
Now we are about to find out how much injuries cost Arsenal last season. Apparently it was £16,260,111. Quite a lot really.
By way of comparison, “Manchester City paid £18.3 million to injured players in 2016/17, more than any other club in the Premier League, a study has revealed,” – at least according to the Telegraph. Arsenal were only third, must try harder to be injured more.
Now that financial position may well be true – I have no way of checking that, but I was interested in what followed in the article. Interested because we still get pieces about Arsenal having the most injuries, and I like to see how others are working out the statistics.
The Telegraph’s view is that the “calibre of absentee means that while they [Man City] had one of the league’s shortest injury lists – just 30 across the season – it cost the club £611,204 on average for each.”
And that is where I know the Untold chart on injuries gets a different answer.
Here is the chart that the Telegraph uses and you will see Arsenal right up near the top once again with the equal second highest number of injuries: 51. And then I thought, actually that is not so bad, because in one of the charts we quoted before Arsenal had 71 injuries. Had we really just lost 20?
“The high salaries paid by the two Manchester clubs go some way to explaining their place as the top two clubs in the rankings, but West Ham were fourth with £13.7m paid for 50 separate absences – not all of which can be attributed purely to Andy Carroll. Arsenal were third on the list [in cost terms], suffering 51 injuries (the same as Man Utd) at a total cost of £16.26m.”
This piece of research was undertaken by insurance broker and risk consultant JLT Specialist, and it apparently “found league clubs paid £177m to injured players during 2016/17, up £20m on the previous year.”
Now, as you may know if you have been paying attention, injuries at Arsenal is always something Untold likes to pick up on, because of the inventiveness of the way it has been reported in the past. In short, Arsenal always top of the injury list because of Wenger’s lunatic training technique.
But what we have above is no guidance as to how injuries are calculated. And the total number of injuries JLT find is nothing like the numbers we found in the other reports we quoted. We reported three figures – total injuries with 14+ days lost, total injuries (all) and days lost, placing the clubs in a position for each of these.
In those tables Arsenal came 7th, 15th and 11th, thus showing as previous research had shown that Arsenal were mid-table for the number of injuries whichever way you look at it. But now suddenly we are joint second, and it is worth asking “how come?”
Unfortunately the Telegraph gives us no clue – and doesn’t even seem to recognise that their figures are totally out of kilter with those of other sources.
Of course we have noted time and again the difficulty in judging short term injuries, but here we are back to long term injuries, and this takes me back to the “analysis” last season which had Arsenal way out in front in terms of injuries in part because Jenkinson was injured while at West Ham, and was out for something over 60 weeks in one season. The injury while playing for WHU was counted as an Arsenal injury, and the year rather miraculously extended.
Here’s the chart we ran before…
|Club||Total injuries 14 days+||Pos||Total injuries (all)||Pos||Days lost||Pos|
In the new study we would have Sunderland as the worst club for injuries (which is what other studies show) but then Man U and Arsenal, which is considerably out of kilter with the other studies.
I’m not going to go through and match them all up, simply because we don’t really have any information on how these injury numbers are collated. But the key fact is that to do any sort of injury number analysis one needs to explain how the figures were worked out.
In short, if someone proclaims – this is the number of injuries, or days lost, or cost or anything else in this area, the figures are probably worthless unless they explain exactly how they were counted and who did the counting.
Probably the best system would be the counting of league matches for which the player could not be played, because of an injury. We know the maximum is 38, and we can count down from there.
But of course the papers like the easy story, so we can be sure to hear a lot about Arsenal being “right up the top again” for injuries for years to come. Otherwise what would Stewart Robson talk about?
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- The Loan Index: The top clubs compared in terms of players loaned out
From the History Society
The untold story: How Henry Norris came to choose Highbury as a venue for Arsenal in 1913.