Injuries: Time to Find out Why?

By on December 7, 2009

After almost a week off due to personal responsibilities, Arsenal Station returns with a look at Arsenal’s chronic injury problem

For the past 3 years, Arsenal have been wracked with an amount of injuries that would see lesser clubs fold completely. Yet, despite this the club has held its Champions League place, getting to the quarterfinals and semifinals. But as half of Arsenal’s first team is listed as injured, perhaps it is time for the club to reevaluate the situation in a bid to find out either why our players get hurt so regularly or, at the very least, how to deal with it.

Here is our current injury list (according to physioroom.com):

Here is what Arsene said about it recently:

Yes, at the moment it is our worst season for injuries. What happens is that we have injuries in the same area. Last year it was defensively, this year it is up front. It is true [that we pick up more injuries than the other big teams], you cannot deny that. We cannot say there is no reason for that but we have not found it. It’s very difficult to find a common denominator to all our injuries. For example Tomas and Eduardo get injuries because they have been out for a long time. Then you have Van Persie who has been injured with the national team. Theo is in and out because when he came back he was tackled against Birmingham and since then he hasn’t played.”

The chronic injury situation (see a 10-page list of Arsenal’s injuries since 2002 here) over the last few years has led to the almost constant cacophony of calls for more “depth” and a “bigger squad.” But you can’t have a first team of 30 players and you can’t buy quality players to sit on the bench. Even Senderos wants to leave for not playing. I just wonder where are all these quality backups that don’t mind sitting on the bench for weeks at a time that Wenger is constantly criticized for not buying.

The problems with injuries have been obvious to every Arsenal supporter, even if the media tries to downplay it. The quote above is one of the first times I can recall Arsene addressing the chronic nature of the problem. And even though I’ve wracked my brain over the last couple of years to try to figure out a reason why we should be suffering so many injuries to so many players so frequently, it is a bit troubling that Arsene seems to have no more clue than you or I.

He is right, though. There doesn’t seem to be a “common denominator.” I used to think that maybe it was his training methods, but the majority of our injuries come from matches not training. Our predominate focus on small creative players may have something to do with it. But it’s not clear if creative attacking players get injured more than defensive players in the game overall or just at Arsenal.

Possibly more than any other club, certainly any other big 4 club, Arsenal have been devastated time after time by injuries sustained on international breaks. This only makes things much worse. In the league, Arsenal are frequently exposed to tactics and strategies which involve trying to muscle them around. The old stereotype that the way to deal with Arsenal is to be “tough” is misleading. It’s not toughness that beats Arsenal. It is roughness. Tackles like those on Eduardo and, more recently, Walcott, are par for the course for Arsenal in the league.

Besides for Rosicky, who can pull a hamstring getting out of bed, to call our players “injury-prone” is misleading because their injuries generally come from challenges and tackles. And, while, those challenges which cause injuries are usually, but not always, whistled, it is the many questionable challenges that the referee lets other sides get away with that allow the challenges that injure players.

It is just as obvious to supporters of the club that Arsenal receive the least protecti0n from the referees than any other big 4 club. Visiting sides get away with far more against Arsenal, especially at the Emirates, than they could at any other big 4 ground. Mark Clattenburg’s performance on Saturday is a classic example. I can appreciate wanting to let the game flow, but referees need to set precedents early in the match to discourage shady challenges. It’s not hard… you see it all the time in United matches. An early yellow card lets the opponent know that they have to play football, not rugby.

But opponents’ strategies and referees’ inconsistency is only a part of the problem. Just being a blogger from 3,000 miles away, I can’t say that I have any answer to the problem. But as a supporter, I can say that the staff need to look at this as, quite possibly, the club’s #1 problem and treat it accordingly.

Injuries notwithstanding, it’s on to Greece for the final fixture of the Champions League Group Stage at Olympiakos. Arsene, smartly, will not risk players with a crucial league encounter with Liverpool on the horizon. On team selection for the mid-week fixture, Wenger said:

You will see Fran, Wilshere, etc… We played Man City last week and they had a full side out. For an hour we did not suffer at all. After that yes we did. I will try to build a similar team in Greece. It will be a great game for them because Olympiacos will play for something. It is another good opportunity to show that we can do better than we did at Man City.

I’ll close with Arsene’s post-match interview with Sky Sports:

[brightcove vid=54523110001&exp=271552671&w=470&h=350]


  1. bob carlon

    December 7, 2009 at 10:41 am

    every other teams, fitness staff are real coaches, tand sport scientists, tony colbert is niether. also these other top teams use stuff like GPS to stop the players over training and make sure they have less injury’s. the reason arsenal have more injurys is because they spend less time tryiny to monitor players.

  2. ArsenalStation

    December 7, 2009 at 10:50 am

    I highly doubt that is the reason, Bob. It is well known that Arsene’s training sessions are meticulously planned and scheduled down to the second, which he keeps track of on a stopwatch. But, like I said, most injuries seem to happen in games rather than in training.

    • bob carlon

      December 7, 2009 at 11:50 am

      with a stopwatch!!!
      tody there are systems that tell you the Gforce from every step, impacts from accelerations/deccelerations and much more, the days of a stopwatch are over, the problem with arsenal is that wenger has too much power and shit staff, i work in sports science and everbody knows that colbert is crap, if players keep getting injured then you have to look at the fitness coach first.

      • ArsenalStation

        December 7, 2009 at 1:51 pm

        At least he used to do it with a stopwatch. I’ve seen Bob Wilson and former players talk about it. I’m sure he has taken advantage of the improvement in technology in the last ten years or so.

  3. Nazir

    December 7, 2009 at 10:54 am

    Have to agree with Bob. We have the fittest players in the league. I believe these players are over training and suffering more wear and tear injuries than anything else.

    • ArsenalStation

      December 7, 2009 at 1:52 pm

      But the majority of the injuries come in games from questionable tackles. Only Rosicky gets injured without any contact.

  4. s.o.c.

    December 7, 2009 at 12:02 pm

    sorry but bob and nazir, you guys are just pissing in the wind.

  5. tom

    December 7, 2009 at 12:03 pm

    they are small in size, weight and muscle tone thats all physically not strong enough. thats why in boxing both boxers are of a similar weight, whereas we get bullied by the big teams and we have the likes of evra stating its men against boys and chelsea throwing us all over the place and hammering the crap out of us. its wengers signings nothing got too do with sports psychology and science etc

  6. bob carlon

    December 7, 2009 at 12:11 pm

    what rubbish, why do players eat right, stretch, give blood and piss samples every day, this is to perform better. arsenal in the last year have had 3 “stress fractures of the back” denilson and clichy twice, these are the most common sign of over use and over training,

    • tom

      December 7, 2009 at 2:49 pm

      what i want you too do is have a fight with someone as fit as your goodself, but is bigger boned than you and about 2 stone heavier.my money is on the other guy. cannot recall any team laughing at arsenal when bould, adams,winterburn,dixon,parlour,seamen etc were playing and imagine hearing the door slamming shut and you upstairs shagging martin keown’s missus. dont talk too me about referees that lot i mentioned refereed the game also and made sure the ref done his job right and the linesman got the offside right every time
      unfcuking believable we let slip both bunne and given and all they cost was £6million for the pair

  7. alex

    December 7, 2009 at 1:33 pm

    We can stay all day analysing this injuries from different angles but the bottom line is referee and we have to accept some of our players are injury prone.

    Arsenal players they play goodd football and in no way we have rough players but ironically they are yellow carded easily by referees for an ordinary challenge specially if it is against an english player.Viceversa if an english player break the leg of an arsenal player it maybe maybe given a mere yellow card.

    This such situation Arsene he cannot make it public like me for obvious reason that the media they are gone bash him.So previously we had Viera who was ready to take a bullet for a club and now who we got ?

    Doctors and Physios are there mate and i dont believe they are doing bad job to handle this list of wonded player.I will go go further a bit to demand that this doctors need a war experience where they can deal with big numbers at one time.What is this year in year out that we got only arsenal players butchered and spent theyr time in treatment rooms.
    Sorry but there is a wichunt against this club and no one want to talk about it.

    • bob carlon

      December 7, 2009 at 1:50 pm

      alaex, the doctors and physios only get the players after they are injured!! the thing that most teams do is prehab, this is prevent injuries arsenal dont do this.
      as i said colbert is not good enough, if arsenal had a good fitness coach, they would have a lot less injuryies

      • ArsenalStation

        December 7, 2009 at 1:53 pm

        You’re saying Arsenal, a team that suffers from many injuries, doesn’t bother trying to prevent them.

      • The Law

        December 7, 2009 at 2:37 pm

        Troll Alert!

  8. bob carlon

    December 7, 2009 at 2:40 pm

    read that piece this is what teams like madrid and chelsea/United/Milan etc… use on there players, Arsenal dont

  9. Shevo

    December 8, 2009 at 1:57 am

    I take it you don’t like Tony Colbert then Bob. If you are such an expert then why aren’t you working for the Arsenal back room. I’ll tell you why, because you are just another sniping hit who loves to have a pop only when we have a bad patch. Any prat can see that the majority of the recent injuries have been impact injuries caused by dodgy challenges and allowed by even dodgier refereeing. If these were just down to training methods then we would hardly have a team to play week in week out you muppet. If you were any good as a “sports science” exprat then I’m sure Arsene would have snapped you up by now. Until then , shut it and stop knocking this club.

  10. Nazir

    December 9, 2009 at 11:24 am

    s.o.c. im hoping the wind is blowing in your direction.

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