After the amount of recent injuries from returning to play I wanted to do an investigation on if there are other factors such as foul rates from other teams as to why we have so many injuries every season, and look at if the players have a higher rate of injuries during their time at the club compared to before they arrive and when they leave.
Context: We all know Arsenal are plagued by significant injuries. An article by the Telegraph in 2014 looked at injury trends by Arsenal
“In the 11 seasons researched from 2003-4 to 2013-14, Arsenal suffered 312 significant injuries which led to the player being out for 10 days or more. That is exactly 100 more than Chelsea, while Arsenal’s total number of injuries was above the Premier League average in 10 out of the 11 campaigns, including each of the last seven completed seasons.”
“In the decade since 2004-5, Arsenal players have lost 13,161 days to injury. Only Newcastle have lost more at 13,344.”
“Yet the statistics become even starker when compared to Arsenal’s main rivals, especially Chelsea. In that same period, Chelsea have lost first-team players for almost half the number of days as Arsenal at 7,217. There are also significant differences with Liverpool at 9,287 days, Manchester City (10,053) and Everton (10,530). Once again, Tottenham and Manchester United are relatively high on this table at respectively 12,050 and 11,833 days, albeit still behind Arsenal.”
It should be stated that not all injuries are the same. The article did a good job of making a distinction between the preventable injuries by the medical staff.
“There is a belief in the sports medicine profession that muscular, or what are termed soft-tissue injuries, are almost always preventable. Arsenal, though, have also had the most muscular injuries in the Premier League so far this season at 14. The comparative figures dating back over the seven previous seasons to 2007-8 also show that only Manchester United have had more.”
Training methods have been proposed as another potential factor for increased injury rates.
“Unless your name is Raymond Verheijen – the former Wales physio who has claimed that there is a “career-threatening process” at Arsenal that is structural – few professionals in the industry are willing to speak openly about their theories. One former Arsenal player, however, told The Telegraph that Wenger’s training methods – which place an emphasis on relatively short but intense sessions – is a part of the issue.”
“Players need more rest now and more individually tailored programmes but Arsene has his methods that he believes in,” he said. There was a sense that Wenger did ease the intensity in the second half of last season following a spate of injuries but that he has largely since gone back to his methods. Another potential factor that has been proposed is squad depth and rotation.
“Other recurring comments are that Wenger should be more willing to rotate his squad and be more cautious when bringing players back from injury. The suspicion of too many games was hard to avoid in the case of Wilshere in 2011 but also Giroud and Koscielny over the past year. Inside Arsenal, there is also a feeling that the size of the squad might be a comparative factor.”
This theory can be considered debunked as the article goes on to mention other teams that have relatively smaller squads.
“Against that, it has been noticeable this season that Chelsea and Southampton have largely avoided injuries and relied heavily on a smaller core of players. There are many conflicting theories. Research by one Premier League club – who have an excellent injury record – has concluded that the “over-playing” theory is largely a myth and that, with the right recovery, physical limits are more often reduced by mentality.”
One of the biggest problems Arsenal have faced is the consistency of refereeing. As we know Arsenal like to play a passing dominant style of football, and to counteract this teams tend to play more aggressive to try and stop this. As Arsene Wennger once said “To beat Arsenal you have to kick Arsenal”. Players put in multiple tackles without getting reprimanded by the referee.
A Tweet from user orbinho puts sheds some light on this claim “Arsenal earn a card on average for every 4.4 fouls. For Liverpool that’s one per 8.5 fouls, Man Utd 5.9, Chelsea 5.7, City 5.0, Spurs 4.7 . Our opponents get cards for every 5.6 fouls they commit against us Liverpool 6.3, Man Utd 5.0, City 4.9, Spurs 5.2, Chelsea 4.6
This lack of protection causes more tackles against our players, that over time, will lead to more tackles that will cause impact injuries in theory
When we traveled to Crystal palace in January of this year this was another case. Squawka reported, “Jordan Ayew conceded seven fouls against Arsenal, the most made without receiving a yellow card in a single Premier League game so far this season”
An article from the mirror in 2019 found that Arsenal was the most fouled team in the league with an average of 12 fouls per game. To compare against other top teams, Man city ranked bottom with 7.9, liverpool with 8.9, Sp*rs 9.5, Chelsea 11.3, Man Utd 10.6
From the guardian article in 2014 “Ask any player who’s played here, ask Vieira or Petit, if he has been targeted without any intention of playing the ball, just to kick him out of the game and they’ll tell you they have,” he said. “Look at the players we have lost here. Diaby, deliberate foul from behind. Rosicky, deliberate foul. Eduardo, deliberate foul. Walcott, deliberate foul. Adebayor and Sagna got injured with a deliberate foul on him.”
Specific incidents of excessive force
Debuchy – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=44kaYqVMXAI
Eduardo – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U-LjWijyC08
Leno – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i_SAib5QZwE
Ramsey – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z778A66T-vo
Injury history: I tried to look at players’ injury history before joining, during and after the left to see if there were any trends. All data is taken from transfermarkt, as that is the most consistent data across all players I could find.
Controls – Looking at some of the most injury prone players of recent times, use this as a reference to give context to the extent of the injuries the players are suffering.
431 days missed 88 games missed in 7 years at real madrid
1,051 days missed,128 games missed in 11 years at dortmund
619 days missed, 86 games missed in 3 years at barcelona
1,126 days missed, 182 games missed in 10 years at bayern
699 days missed, 90 games missed in 7 years at bayern
Jack Wilshere: play style plays into injuries. Draws players in, likes to play the ball at the last second, lies in contact, most of his injuries were contact related (fractures, ankle injuries etc). This in combination with the stats of Arsenal being fouled the most I believe heavily contributed to his injuries.
1,013 days missed, 155 games missed in 8 years at arsenal 112 days missed in 1 year at Bournemouth 442 days missed, 53 games missed in 2 years at West ham
1,366 days missed, 250 games missed in 6 years at arsenal 381 days missed, 64 games missed in 2 years at marseille
990 days missed, 155 games missed in 7 years at arsenal 290 days missed, 40 games missed in 2 years at sparta prague
84 days missed, 20 games missed in 5 years at villareal 0 injuries in 1 year at malaga 796 days missed, 138 games missed in 5 years at arsenal (LCL and Achilles)
Danny Welbeck (keep in mind 60 appearances before joining arsenal)
109 days missed, missed 21 games in 2 years at man u. 0 injuries in 1 year at sunderland 774 days missed, 123 games missed in 5 years at arsenal
843 days missed, 113 games missed in 10 years at arsenal 59 days missed, 10 games missed in 1 year at juventus
Vermaelen (ACL) – Vermaelen had an extensive injury history before joining arsenal, and that continued throughout his time at the club. He had similar numbers at both arsenal and barcelona
193 days missed, 30 games missed in 5 years at ajax 464 days missed, 118 games missed 5 years at arsenal 488 days missed114 games missed in 4 years at barcelona 87 days missed, 17 games missed in 1 year at roma 25 days missed4 games missed 1 year at vissel kobe
18 days out in 2 years at Shalke 33 days out 2 years at werder bremen 0 days injured in 3 years at real madrid 252 days injured 7 years at arsenal
316 days missed, 68 games missed in 8 years at arsenal 42 days missed, 7 games missed in 3 years at barcelona 88 days missed, 15 games missed in 5 years at chelsea 75 days missed, 10 games missed in 1 year at monaco
38 days missed, 5 games missed in 5 years at nice 180 days missed, 35 in 5 years at arsenal 13 days missed, 1 game missed in 2 years at napoli
330 days missed, 70 games missed in 7 years at arsenal 152 days missed, 9 games missed in 3 years at man u 210 days missed, 37games msised in 3 years at fenerbahce 28 days missed, 3 games missed in 1 year at feyenoord (2nd stint)
Conclusion: It’s hard to compare since they didn’t spend equal time at each team and had varying amounts of playtime. Wilshere, Diaby, Rosicky and Ramsey and Vermaelen had consistent injuries during their time here and when they left. Players like Cazorla, Fabregas, Ozil and Ospina had limited injuries before Arsenal, significant amounts of injuries during their time at Arsenal, but decreased when they left.
From looking at all this data, there are obviously multiple factors contributing to why we have so many injuries. Keep in mind some players did not appear much which is why they had less injuries (welbeck). I will say I believe it is a mixture of some injury prone players (diaby) and a result of overly aggressive opponents leading to players being more at risk of getting injured which is what we’re seeing this season.
Looking at who we have out right now (data from physioroom)
Calum chambers: ACL - impact Lucas Torreira: ankle impact Cedric Soares: Nasal Fracture - impact Sokratis: thigh strain - Xhaka: ankle injury - impact Leno: knee injury - impact Mari: ankle - impact Martinelli - meniscus - impact
Only one of these being Sokratis’ thigh strain is arguably preventable. I think right now we are extremely unlucky, however there should be something done to look at the training methods. Looking at the article from the telegraph we do have a history of musculature injuries that can be prevented. I’m not sure how the training sessions have differed from Emery and Arteta compared to Wenger, but that clearly used to be a problem.
Let me know what you guys think, I remember they were supposed to do an investigation into the injuries, but I couldn’t really find anything on the results.