By Bulldog Drummond
Arsenal injuries have been the prime talking point in the media for the last few days, but as ever there is little by way of comparison between Arsenal and other clubs in order to make a proper judgement as to what is going on.
The clubs with the most injuries have been accumulated by Everton (8), Norwich City (8), Leicester (7), Leeds (6), Manchester United (5), Newcastle United (5). Arsenal have four, the same number as Aston Villa, Southampton and Tottenham Hots. So hardly an excess of injuries. But funny how reluctant the media is to do comparisons between clubs.
However the issue that has arisen is how central these injuries are going to be in relation to the outcome of Arsenal’s remaining fixtures.
Now the media this week have been blaming Arsenal (the club that has won six of its last eight Premier League fixtures) for not having a big enough squad. Except that the list doesn’t include Arsenal’s younger players like Martinelli, Saka and Smith Rowe because they are still aged under 21. Which takes the number up to 21.
In fact overall Arsenal have 29 players listed in their squad for this season on the Premier League website. Eight of those players are youngsters whom we have not seen but who are at Arsenal in the hope of developing their careers, and for Arsenal in the hope of one or two of them becoming another Saka or Smith Rowe
So yes we have spaces for four more players. But supposing these had been bought in January, what then? We would have four more reserves available, true. But imagine (quite reasonably I think) that Arteta knows exactly who he wants to buy this summer. If the squad was filled up any further he would then having to be shipping more players out. OK a few like Eddie and Lacazette are said to be leaving, but the more players who are brought in just for backup if needed, the less room for manoeuvre there is.
Would it be worth having difficulty moving players in and out this summer just to have had a victory over Crystal Palace? I am not sure. Would players willingly sign for Arsenal, knowing that they were just back ups who would soon be moved on when others become fit? I doubt it.
But let’s move on and have a look at Arsenal v Brighton through the ages. We’ve played them 24 times excluding friendly games. Arsenal have won 14, drawn five and lost five.
In the Premier League era we’ve played them nine times, winning three, losing three and drawing three. They have beaten us once on our own turf, on 5 December 2019 when the score was 1-2. This was at the time when Mr Arteta was teaching the defence how to defend without tackling in order to stop getting so many yellow cards – although to be fair Brighton beat us again that season in June at their place.
Our highest score in the league over Brighton was in their very first game in the top tier, on 18 August 1979 when their opening game of the season was a 0-4 home defeat to Arsenal. Arsenal, full of hope and expectation, then came back to Highbury three days later for the first home game of the season and were beaten 0-2 by Ipswich.
Indeed we didn’t win any of the next four league matches until we beat Middlesbrough 2-0 at home in mid-September. But despite that poor start Arsenal did finish the league in fourth place behind Liverpool, Manchester United and Ipswich Town. Tottenham were 14th and Manchester City 17th.
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