Arsenal v Manchester City: are injuries related to the level of tackling?



by Bulldog Drummond

The injury list of players that we have been running, ahead of each Arsenal game for years and years has never previously been like this, including both on-pitch injuries and cases of the pandemic.  Nor can I recall when we last recorded a player being missing from a squad because he was being remanded in prison on the most serious sexual assault charge.

But that is the case now and is part of the reason why the number of players unavailable is rising.  However, there is something rather strange going on.

Clubs are supposedly only able to ask for a postponement when they are down to 13 outfield men and a keeper.   And yet we know from looking at the list of players registered with each team, normally they have between 21 and 25 players listed, plus maybe four or five under 21s that they give occasional games to in the league cup etc.

Now according to the Daily Mail the “13 plus keeper rule” includes under 21s, so I really can’t see how any club is running out of players, given the size of the “injury” list below which includes illnesses.  In short what is going on???

Players unavailable through injury and illness (figures from Premier League Injuries)

  1. Aston Villa: 4
  2. Brighton and Hove Albion: 4
  3. Manchester United: 4
  4. Tottenham Hotspur: 4
  5. Arsenal: 5
  6. Manchester City: 5
  7. West Ham United: 5
  8. Chelsea: 6
  9. Burnley: 7
  10. Crystal Palace: 7
  11. Liverpool: 7
  12. Wolverhampton Wanderers: 7
  13. Everton: 9
  14. Southampton: 9
  15. Watford: 9
  16. Leeds United: 10
  17. Leicester City: 10
  18. Brentford: 11
  19. Norwich City: 11
  20. Newcastle United: 12

What is interesting is that although the heading on most websites is something akin to “players unavailable through injuries and suspension,” they now take suspension to allow them to include Aubameyang, who is unavailable because of an internal discipline matter.  And as we will see below, Manchester City’s list of unavailable includes a player remanded in prison.  Which yes, would, by and large, make him unavailable.

It is also interesting to note how the bottom eight clubs in the league table (all highlighted in bold) are in the bottom 11 for having the most injuries.  In fact as can be seen, seven out of eight of the most injured clubs are in the bottom half of the table.

This raises the issue: do the injuries cause the clubs to sink down the table, or as the clubs near the lower reaches of the table take more risks in the tackling etc and so get more injuries?

When we look at that, the clubs with the most injuries are not the clubs that deliver the most tackles – indeed there seems to be only a slight relationship between the level of tackling and the level of injuries.  Which just shows that not every bright idea from one of us working on tackles / fouls / yellow card table turns out to give an insight!

There is however a general relationship (Leeds, Newcastle, Leicester and Everton are among the six teams that tackle the most and are also in the list of eight teams that have the most injuries) but it is not tight enough a relationship to suggest that this is the key issue here.  So we keep looking.

Arsenal’s men out are

Sead Kolasinac: who aims to be back in full training from 22 January.

Pierre Emerick Aubameyang: “we’ll take it game by game”

Plus our three victims of the virus: Chambers, Tomiyasu, Soares.

Manchester City’s down and out’s are

Kyle Walker who has been ill but is rated 50% for the game

John Stones who had a knock recently and is rated 25% for tomorrow.

Liam Delap who has an ankle injury and is apparently ruled out.

Rodrigo Hernandez Cascante who has coronavirus.

And then there is Benjamin Mendy who is accused of eight offences against five women, including seven counts of rape relating to four women.  Reporting restrictions have now been lifted so we can add that these various charges date from October 2020 through to August 2021.  Mendy is charged alongside Louis Saha Matturie, 40 of Eccles, who is also accused of serious sexual offences against women.

Mendy has been held in custody since his arrest on 26 August in Her Majesty’s Prison Altcourse, Liverpool, where he will remain until 7 January when a further pre-trial hearing will be held. A proposed trial date of 24 January next year has been rescheduled and it is now stated that Mendy’s trial will now start on either 27 June or 1 August – almost a year after his initial arrest.

He is of course innocent until proven otherwise in a court of law.

The Guardian reports that “Mendy joined Manchester City from Monaco in 2017 for a reported £52m, which was then a record figure for a defender, and he has made 75 appearances.  [Manchester] City suspended him after he was charged.”

Arsenal v Manchester City: the prognostications