The Patient Is Sick – The Patient Is Arsenal
As Leicester spent the month of May 2016 wrapping up the most unbelievable of title runs… the Gunner faithful were bitterly protesting 12 consecutive years of “failure” – a failure precisely to win any notable trophy notwithstanding the FA cup. Keen to draw a straight line between the most obvious common denominators and this period of ineptitude, with the common conclusion drawn that the blame fall squarely at the feet of club patriarch – Arsene Wenger. Meanwhile the alternative theory has the culprit being the lack of investment by the “greedy owners”.
Soccer Surgery dissects the Arsenal Injury record to expose an alarming trend.
Soccer Surgery cuts deeper though to examine a third but overlooked suspect, also quite prominent in this period – the injury bug. Though acknowledged by some it is still quickly dismissed by most as “an excuse” or insignificant to the discussion but whilst pondering Arsenal’s more recent struggles an interesting FACT came to light – the last two champions of the Premier League had an incredibly clean injury record. Check out below the “missed games” for Chelsea and Leicester’s arguably most important players over their respective title runs (over the season of 38 games):
Player (games missed):
Chelsea – Terry (0), Ivanovic (0), Fabregas (4), Matic (2), Hazard (0), Costa (12) – Total(16)
Leicester – Huth (3), Morgan (2), Drinkwater (1), Kante (3), Mahrez (1), Vardy (1) – Total(11)
The writing is on the wall here in italic font folks. Quite simply incredible injury records for the last two premier league champions. Both teams were able to run out more or less the same starting eleven week in week out, building chemistry and results appear to have followed. Damning evidence or back to back coincidence? Soccer Surgery believes the former.
With that established let’s get back to Arsenal and dissect their injury record/luck by comprehensively reviewing how many games were missed over the last twelve (12) years by “intended” starters i.e players reasonably expected to be first choice in their position that year.
The list, as compiled from espnfc.com squad statistics page is as follows:
2015/16 – Sanchez (6), Ramsey (5), Cazorla (21)
2014/15 – Ramsey (9), Kosc (11), Ozil (16), Giroud (11)
2013/14 – Ozil (12), Ramsey (15), Cazorla (7)
2012/13 – Scezny (13), Gibbs (11), Kosc (13), Sagna (13), Gervinho (20), Walcott (6)
2011/12 – Gibbs (12) , Sagna (18), Ramsey (11), Rosicky (10), Gervinho (10)
2010/11 -Kosc (8), Vermaleen (33), Fabregas (13), Nasri (8), RVP (13)
2009/10 – No games played data available 🙁
2008/09 – Clichy (7), Gallas (15), Kolo Toure (9), Fabregas (16), RVP (10), Nasri (9)
2007/08 – Gallas (7), Sagna (9), Fabregas (6), Hleb (7), RVP (23)
2006/07 – Gallas (17), Eboue (14), Rosicky (9), RVP (16), Adebayor (9)
2005/06 – Clichy (31),A Cole (27), Senderos (18), Hleb(13), Llunberg (13),RVP (14), Henry (6)
2004/05 – Senderos (25), Sol Campbell (22), Llunberg (12), Fabregas (8), RVP(12)
What are the Key Takeways?
- Van Persie, Wenger’s main goal threat for several years, featured on the list EVERY YEAR except ironically his final year at the Emirates.
- Unlike the Terry/Cahill or Morgan/Huth central defensive partnerships at Chelsea/Leicester – Wenger could never enjoy such a partnership over the ENTIRE 12-year span as remarkably either Senderos or Gallas join our list in early years and Koscieny takes permanent residence in the latter years.
- There was not one single year where LESS than 3 starters missed considerable time – compare this again to Chelsea/Leicester.
- Lastly some players habitually exceeded Chelsea/Leicester’s total for ALL key players COMBINED.
An amazing injury record – but not good amazing.
If one accepts tis is highly unusual it raises some questions on the perception of Arsenal’s failures and Wenger’s role:
- So should have Wenger been better at utilizing his bench to overcome such a horrid plague of injuries?
- Is it Wenger’s fault for not selling injury prone players or buying them in the first place?
- Is it Wenger’s fault simply because he has not been able to arrest the treatment table situation by sorting the physio room?
- Is it fair to judge Wenger’s product on the field when it could never really stay on the field for long?
Whatever the answers to these questions there’s an elephant in the room no one’s discussing clearly. The objection of course to following this line of thinking is – ” You can’t be unlucky and blame injuries for 12 years..at some point it’s someone’s fault” – well I invite you to scroll back up and review that exhausting list just one more time.
LET US KNOW WHAT YOU THINK OR SHARE WITH A FRIEND USING BUTTON BELOW.