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April 2021
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Arsenal drop off the table. Never before seen event.

By Bulldog Drummond

Yes indeed, Arsenal have fallen off the table.

Untold Arsenal has been recording the number of injuries Arsenal have, week by week, since 2010.  And as far as I can tell we have never ever ever had a weekend before, during a season, in which Arsenal has no injuries at all.  Not one.  Not a sausage.  Not even a 50/50 niggle.

Which means that for the very first time in 11 years the Arsenal manager can select the team that he wants to put out, without working his way around the wounded.

And as it happens, we’re not the only club on zero injuries at the moment: Manchester City and West Bromwich Albion also have no injuries, according to physioroom.

Top of the list are Leicester and Manchester United with eight men down, then Crystal Palace and Sheffield United with seven, followed by Everton, Liverpool, Southampton and West Ham each with six men out with little or no chance of playing.

As for our opponents, the Tottenham Hots, Harry Kane is being assessed and the feeling is that it is nothing serious and he will play, while Giovani Lo Celso is also down as being assessed but with a much lower chance of playing.

Now if you are a regular reader may I first say thank you, and second say, you will recall that earlier in the pandemic we spent a lot of time analysing why results have changed since the advent of no crowds in the stadia.

We found the answer thanks to the research team at London School of Economics who proved that a lack of a crowd changes the behaviour of referees, such that they are less likely to favour the home team when there is no crowd in the stadium.

So I wonder if we have now seen another effect: fewer injuries when there is no crowd in the stadium.

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Many injuries are just a result of the player doing something to his own body, and thus pulling a muscle.   So it could be that the extra stretch that causes the problem, or the extra aggressive challenge that injures an opponent, is caused by players getting over-excited by the crowds.  

Obviously I can’t read players’ minds and no one would ever admit such behaviour, but we might think back to the injuries to Eduardo and Ramsey (to name but two) and have the feeling that the players involved were being reckless at the very least.  Nothing can be proven of course, but watching matches one slowly gets the feeling that this is how things go in certain clubs.  Players are wound up by fans who feel that it is a good idea to harm opponents and get encouraged by fans who have a “us against the world” attitude.

This is not an attitude I ever experienced at Highbury, nor have I at the current stadium, but it is certainly a feeling I have had in certain other grounds.

On the other hand, the BBC reported in November last year that “there have been 133 muscle injuries in total over the first nine matchdays of this Premier League season, a 23% increase compared to the same period last year.”  So maybe my thought about the crowd being the game changer is not right.  It would be good if someone could come up with some further thoughts on this.

Our ex-physio Gary Lewin did an interview on BBC Radio 5 Live in which he blamed the lack of the normal break and pre-season warm ups with the persistent two games a week for an increase (not decrease) in injuries, saying quite reasonably, “If you’re not fully recovered from your previous game then fatigue will set in and muscle injuries will go up, because if you have tired muscles and you load them again, they are going to break.”

That would make sense since there were seven weeks between the 2019-20 Premier League season ending and the 2020-21 campaign starting, compared to 12 as originally planned, because of the coronavirus pandemic and some clubs had Euro matches and there were internationals at that time.

But all that would mean that we should be seeing more and more injuries just now, not fewer.

So, the reason is unclear, but whatever the reason, this is a moment to cherish.  Arsenal are injury free, and Mr Arteta can pick the side he wants.

 

6 comments to Arsenal drop off the table. Never before seen event.

  • Nitram

    Tony

    I must admit the ‘severity’ of fouls we might normally expect to receive has not been there, but without checking the statistics my feeling is the quantity is, but as I say, I haven’t checked the stats.

    One thing I would say though is it’s a miracle Saka’s still standing as he is targeted every time he plays. I have a feeling that if he starts on Sunday he will certainly have a target on his back.

    The question is, will he get any protection? Well, given the stats you produced in the previous article I fear not as Spurs seem to be afforded extraordinary latitude when it comes to fouling their opponents.

    My prediction is Saka will go off injured following an unpunished assault. I hope I’m wrong.

  • Dave28

    The problem is these idiotic useless international breaks as well.

  • Menace

    Nitram as regards Saka, I hope you are wrong too. The PGMOL do not seem to have realised the impact that they have with regard to protecting targeted footballers. The Racist elements have a better vision and many more voices raised to stop this sickness in society. The Arsenal players do not have the voices nor the visibility to protect them from evil.

    Thus far Arteta has been very diplomatic but Pep has made it clear that the imbalance of PGMOL decisions are impacting Football results.

    I fear for the game and for everything called sport with current news exposing medical support of drug interference in cycling.

  • Mikey

    @ Nitram

    This season we are indeed being fouled less 10.9 per game as opposed to 11.5 last season. It’s not a huge difference. But it was 12.0 per game the seaon before that when we were the most fouled in the premiership. This has gone down to the fourth most fouled last season and the seventh most fouled this season. The big caveat I would put on all that is that these are only the fouls that refs choose to actually give and not the ones that they don’t give because we’re Arsenal.

    By comparison, over the same timeframe we were committing fouls far less than we were being fouled ourselves………..although we were still being carded more often. No surprises there!

    We were the ninth highest at committing fouls two years ago (10.8), eighth last season (11.1) and this season no club has committed fewer at 9.2 per game. But of course we are still getting cards at a phenomenal rate compared to teams committing many more fouls than us. That final fact is the only constant in all this!

  • Nitram

    Mikey

    “But of course we are still getting cards at a phenomenal rate compared to teams committing many more fouls than us. That final fact is the only constant in all this!”

    But according to many, including our own fans that often come on here to express their views, it’s all our own fault because we cant tackle properly, and haven’t been able to for about 15 years….apparently !

  • Menace

    The major impact on the fouls is the fact that we are avoiding physical contact when we chase the ball and look to intercept rather than physical contact. We still get physical challenges when we keep the ball too long. Quick passing prevents the opponent from physical challenges and gets them carded if they do because the ball has been moved on. This still depends on the PGMOL being honest.

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