By Tony Attwood
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At the start of this season the Sun ran the headline “Arsenal injury concerns over Ben White”. In fact nothing was wrong and the player played in all the opening games of the season.
So how did the Sun get it so wrong? Well, it turns out the entire body of evidence that White had an injury was that he was wearing a support bandage around his knee during one training session.
Now to see that as a sign of injury is to show quite a lacking of knowledge of training at any sort of level. In the simplest of terms a player who feels even the slightest twinge or shows even the tiniest of strains or pulls will put on protective supports when training in order to reduce the chance of an injury. Playing while wearing a bandage or support does not suggest that the player is injured. If he were injured he would not be playing in a practice match.
But talk of Arsenal injuries is all the rage at the moment for the simple reason that it is a way of knocking Arsenal and increasing tension among supporters, which in turn makes the fans turn back more and more to get the latest. The latest however is generally the latest invented story.
Take this one …
According to the Daily Mirror, “early returns from international duty for injury-prone stars Thomas Partey, Kieran Tierney and Takerhiro Tomiyasu leaves Arsenal’s squad stretched to its limits.”
But early returns ahead of matches of no consequence simply mean that the club has said to the country manager, “please don’t play him”. If the country manager can argue that the match is of central importance to the country he will keep the player, otherwise he goes back home.
And personally, I am delighted to see players returning early, so they can get plenty of treatment although the Mirror seems to be suggesting that all of the returnees are in fact damaged goods.
Of Partey the Mirror says, “The midfielder’s latest injury has raised new doubts about his long-term availability” while surely anyone being reasonable would say, “The fact that Partey returned rather than playing in a pointless match and risking further injury is surely a good sign.”
As for Tierney he has generally been seen as a second-choice full-back to Oleksandr Zinchenko. Tierney actually returned to London due to suspected but not confirmed concussion after a clash of heads.
That’s because Arsenal will need Tierney because Zinchenko is possibly already out with an injury of his own. He has a calf strain which is why he didn’t play against Brentford.
In fact, in terms of the injury league table Arsenal are in the top 30 per cent of clubs with injured players – higher than the average, but hardly spectacularly out of line with everyone else. Certainly, the hysterical tone in the article would lead one to suspect that Arsenal are out on their own when it comes to injured players. But no, we are in the top six, nothing worse.
- Newcastle United: 9 injuries
- Manchester United: 8 injuries
- Arsenal: 7 injuries
- Everton 7 injuries
- Liverpool: 7 injuries
- Nottingham Forest: 7 injuries
And indeed if we look a little further we can see that not all these seven players are definitely ruled out. Of course, some players are (Nelson, Elneny and Smith Rowe – and perhaps Zinchenko, although if he is definitely out why did he go with his country, rather than continue to get treatment at Arsenal?) but the EPL injury table tells us that Tierney has a 75% chance of being fit, Partey has a 50% chance of being fit, and Cedric Soares has 50% chance of being fit.
However the tenor of the articles about Arsenal injuries is that these seven players out is a catastrophe because Arsenal don’t have any reserves worthy of the name because Arsenal have deliberately chosen to go this season with a tiny squad.
And indeed there is a reason why clubs might encourage such stories, because they make it harder for the opposition to work out who is going to be in the team against them.
But the reality is that we have a 24 man squad as shown below
- Alves Soares, Cedric Ricardo
- Dos Santos Magalhães, Gabriel
- Elneny, Mohamed Naser Elsayed
- Fernando De Jesus, Gabriel
- Ferreira Vieira, Fabio Daniel
- Holding, Robert Samuel
- Igaba-Ishimwe, George Lewis
- Nelson, Reiss
- Nketiah, Edward Keddar
- Odegaard, Martin
- Partey, Thomas Teye
- Ramsdale, Aaron
- Sambi Lokonga, Albert-Mboyo
- Smith, Matthew Gerrard
- Smith Rowe, Emile
- Tierney, Kieran
- Tomiyasu, Takehiro
- Turner, Matthew
- White, Benjamin
- Xhaka, Granit
- Zinchenko, Oleksandr
- Patino, Charlie Michael
- Saka, Bukayo
- Saliba, William
So of the 24 we have four players definitely out leaving us with 20.
And now let us compare that with Tottenham.
Here are their squad players
- Austin, Brandon Anthony
- Bentancur, Rodrigo
- Bissouma, Yves
- Davies, Benjamin Thomas
- De Andrade, Richarlison
- Dier, Eric Jeremy Edgar
- Doherty, Matthew James
- Forster, Fraser Gerard
- Højbjerg, Pierre Emile Kordt
- Heung-Min, Son
- Kane, Harry
- Kulusevski, Dejan
- Leite De Souza Junior, Emerson Aparecido
- Lenglet, Clement
- Lloris, Hugo
- Perisic, Ivan
- Rodrigues Moura Da Silva, Lucas
- Romero, Cristian Gabriel
- Sanchez Mina, Davinson
- Sessegnon, Kouassi Ryan
- Skipp, Oliver William
- Spence, Diop Djed
- Tanganga, Japhet Manzambi
They have Lucas Rodrigues Moura da Silva out and Hugo Lloris plus Ben Davies as possibly injured. So that takes them down to 22 players. So yes they are doing better than us in terms of injury – although I am not sure that warrants the Mirror’s headline of “Mikel Arteta handed eight-man Arsenal injury crisis ahead of North London derby”.
From current information, Tottenham appear to have a squad of 22 and we have 20. Not too much of a disadvantage for us.
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