Crystal Palace v Arsenal: the injuries and the curious case of draws

By Bulldog Drummond

Shock horror Arsenal have dropped out of the top four.  It’s all over.

According to the Guardian, “Arsenal’s horizons have shifted immeasurably since losing their opening three games and they visit Crystal Palace on Monday night in search of a seventh win in eight.”

This is nonsense.  Arsenal knew exactly why they lost those games – they were putting together a new defence (not all of whom were in place) and they had a significant number of players ill.

It was the sort of situation which if it had happened to Liverpool (as it did – or at least appeared to do in January with their bizarre “false covid” reports being on a level 1000 times bigger than ever reported anywhere else in the country) would have been mega headline stories in support of the club.  Instead quite a few people started calling for Areta to be sacked.

Meanwhile, the natural overwhelming brilliance and dominance of Tottenham have found their proper place above us according to the media.  Two league titles and eight FA cups, well you can’t beat that, can you?

Not unless you’ve got, well, I don’t know, 13 league titles and 14 FA Cups and a ground just a couple of miles down the road paid for without borrowing any money from the government.

Here’s the table…

Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Manchester City 30 23 4 3 70 18 52 73
2 Liverpool 30 22 6 2 77 20 57 72
3 Chelsea 29 17 8 4 58 23 35 59
4 Tottenham Hotspur 30 17 3 10 52 37 15 54
5 Arsenal 28 17 3 8 44 31 13 54

Oh yes, and Arsenal have two games in hand.

But to try and make it a more even and balanced table, let’s have a look at the last ten games table just to get an idea of current form…

      H O M E   A W A Y      
Team P W D L F A W D L F A GD Pts
1 Liverpool 10 6 0 0 17 1 4 0 0 8 1 23 30
2 Manchester City 10 3 0 1 9 4 4 2 0 10 2 13 23
3 Arsenal 10 3 1 2 7 6 4 0 0 10 2 9 22
4 Newcastle Un 10 3 1 0 7 3 3 1 2 6 4 6 20
5 Manchester Un 10 3 2 0 7 3 2 2 1 11 10 5 19
6 Chelsea 10 2 2 1 7 7 3 1 1 9 3 6 18
7 Tottenham Ho 10 2 0 2 10 6 3 0 3 11 8 7 15

Hmmm, Arsenal have gained seven more points that Tottenham in the last 10 games.  One can see why the media doesn’t want that story floating around.  And has anyone noticed that in the last ten games, Tottenham H, the team so widely celebrated yesterday by the media, has got just half the number of points of Liverpool?  Now I know Arsenal are some way behind Liverpool over the last ten games, but not that far behind!

But let us turn to the subject in hand: a game against Crystal Palace.   And while we are munching on a statistical breakfast, here’s a little thought.  Arsenal are the club with the lowest number of draws in the league.  Palace whom we play tonight are the team with the highest number of draws in the league.

Which suggests something has to give.  A draw will be portrayed as a victory for Palace’s tactics, and a defeat for Arsenal.

Moving on to our usual pre-match injury review, Arsenal are shown as having three injuries in the last few days – with at least one of the three injuries seemingly already overcome – according to the latest Physioroom report, with a second of the three on the way out.

According to their summary, Takehiro Tomiyasu will face a late fitness test on his leg injury, with a statement on 31 March quoted as saying,  “I think it will be close. He’s been training more and more. He has the boys back now, so he will be joining some sessions this week, and let’s see how it is.”  Physioroom rate him as 50/50 for this game, which suggests he will be a substitute.

(Incidentally, why do we still refer to players being “on the bench” when they all sit in comfy chairs?)

Rated as only 25%, according to the reports, is Aaron Rambsdale with the Physioroom statement saying “”The physios are doing everything they can to make him available but we will see in the next few days when he starts to do more real training.”

Last of the potentially unavailable list is Bukayo Saka, who, it seems is not unavailable at all, but is “feeling good” and is training.

So hardly any injuries at all, and indeed the number of injuries throughout the league seems lower than we used to see.  The only clubs with the traditional number of injuries more is Norwich City with eight.

Elsewhere, Burnley, Everton, Leeds, Leicester have five men down, Aston Villa, Crystal Palace, Manchester United, Newcastle United and Tottenham Hots have four.  I don’t have statistics for each week of the footballing calendar across the years, but the numbers do seem low overall to be much lower than we have had in the past.

The four Palace players who are out are all listed as 50/50 and are James McArthur, Michael Olise, Wilfred Zaha, and Nathan Ferguson.  Each is said to be subject to a late fitness test.

More shortly…

2 Replies to “Crystal Palace v Arsenal: the injuries and the curious case of draws”

  1. Back in March I did my 3rd prediction of how and where the 4 teams in the battle for a top 4 place would gain and drop points in the run, concluding with how many points that would mean we all ended up on.

    My predictions and how I come to them are all here.

    Due to circumstances we haven’t even played a match since then. Manchester United have played just the 1, Spurs and West Ham have played 2 apiece.

    After those 5 matches, far from a disaster things have actually improved for us as Man Utd have dropped 2 points against expectation and West Ham 1 point. Spurs have won both their matches as expected.

    What that all means is:

    Man Utd have dropped from an expected 69 pts to 67 pts.

    West Ham have dropped from an expected 65 pts to 64 pts.

    Spurs have remained on an expected 71 pts.

    My system predicted us to finish on 71 pts, and that was with a draw in tonight’s match.

    But tonight’s match is a prime example of as to why my system is ‘fluid’ because when I did that prediction back in March Palace were 9th, which meant our expected pts return away to a top half team was 1 point. They now sit in 12th, which means we should now expect to gain 3 pts as thy sit in the bottom half of the table.

    In reality it changes very little as the draw will still have us finishing on 71 pts. If we do get the win we will be looking at achieving 73 points. Moving us 2 pts ahead of our main rivals for 4th.

    The truth is a win will be a great result, putting us a head of expectations. A draw would still be a decent result, and exactly what I expect us to get tonight. A loss wouldbe a bit of a set back, but nothing to get too upset about, but as we all know that wont stop the hacks going into meltdown telling us how it’s all over.

    Alas it has been forever that way.

    And just as a footnote. If we do win tonight, given Chelseas result at the weekend, we could even be in with a shout of catching them. If they do suffer a drastic loss of form on the back of all their Russian trials and tribulations it isn’t beyond the realms of possibility that it is they who drop out of the top 4.

    Personally I wouldn’t put money on it but you never know.

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