Arsenal finished third to bottom in the ‘Premier League injuries League’ for the 2011/12 season. They were one of the worst clubs hit with long term injuries last term, finishing just above the Spuds and surprisingly league runner-ups Manchester United.
The data originally from physioroom.com was compiled by Sporting intelligence, and consists of logs from every injury to every player throughout the past season. A ‘significant’ injury is considered when a player is unavailable for competitive matches for at least 14 days as a result of that specific injury.
Premier League winners by the skin of their teeth Manchester ‘Moneybags’ City managed to suffer the least amount of injury ‘episodes’ with only seven significant incidents and the total amount of days out equalled 186 days.
Arsenal on the other hand were not quite so lucky. They suffered a staggering 28 signicant injuries of which 1343 days were lost, the third worst in the league. Their average of days lost was also the worst out of the bottom three teams being 48.
So here’s the complete table:
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The statistics are hardly surprising from Arsenal’s point of view with Abou Diaby only making four league appearances and Jack Wilshere missing the entire season. Not to mention two leg breaks suffered by Bacary Sagna, Santos and Mertesacker’s ankle fractures, Gibbs’ persistent injury woes, Arteta’s ankle, Vermaelen’s customary layoff (ankle also), Djourou’s being hamstrung on multiple occasions, Jenkinson’s back problems, Ramsey’s burnout, Frimpong’s knee, Rosicky and Coquelin’s layoffs just to name a few.
The only Gunner players that seemed to not be on the list were three of the most influential players of the season Robin van Persie, Alex Song and Laurent Koscielny. While it’s the first season that RVP remained off the treatment table at Arsenal, it further illustrates how lucky Wenger was to have his two best attacking enforcers (Song’s attacking presence was invaluable) available week in-week out. Goodness know’s where the Gunners would have ended up on the table if the Dutchman suffered a big knock.
So what can we take from the injury data? Firstly it shows how unlucky Arsenal have been with missing first-team players this season, I’d love to see a comparison from over the past five or so years as it feels like an ongoing problem.
But most importantly it stresses the need for depth in a squad with plenty of quality. Manchester United’s defence was highly impressive despite the amount of injuries they suffered such as captain’ Nemanja Vidic’s long lay-off and other injuries to a variety of players resulting in a constantly rotating back line for Sir Alex Ferguson. However they came within a whisker of winning the league, and how? Depth. They have the likes of Smalling, Jones and Evans who can cover for Vidic and Ferdinand. That’s five quality centrebacks, two-three of which can play as a fullback very comfortably.
Arsenal’s midfield has also been blighted by injuries, however Wenger managed to gel a trio of Song, Rosicky and Arteta prior to the latter’s ankle injury. Wilshere should be fit to play next season after having to sit out the entire campaign, however a question mark remains over Diaby who consistently proves he is not over his injury woes that have plagued him since his awful ankle break in 2006.
Personally I feel we still need to buy at least one more decent player for each of the defence, midfield and striking departments especially with the news that Djourou is on his way out. Arsenal’s persistent injury problems will most likely not change, so they need to reinforce and deepen the quality in the squad. Competition is healthy, so add a few more faces Wenger and you’ll keep Van Persie no problem.
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