Dark these mornings, eh?
Still, at least there’s some light at the end of the tunnel, if not much in the way of news yet. The final round of internationals take place tonight and once they’re out of the way they we can concentrate on the real football again. Of course, the Premier League being what it is, they’ve scheduled our game for Sunday so we’ve an extra day to wait but I guess there’s not much we can do about that.
We’ve even got a bit of early team news which reveals that Laurent Koscielny, Johan Djourou and Sebastian Squillaci will all be fit and available. I wonder will the manager be tempted to use them all in a revolutionary 8-1-1 formation to ensure we don’t ship any goals. Anyway, whatever the obvious jokes the more players we have fully fit the better.
Gilles Grimandi says (link has annoying auto-play video) that our injury problems stem from keeping the ball as much as we do.
We have so many injuries because we keep hold of the ball more than other teams and this exposes the team to more knocks from opponents. It is also because we have a lot of small-sized players, and the fact we take part in so many competitions increases risk of injury.
I’m really not sure I buy that, to be honest. If our players were missing because they were being kicked all the time we’d say ‘X is out with a bruised knee’ or ‘Y is missing because his shin is all hurty’. Instead we have players who have all manner of muscle, tendon and ligament strains and I don’t really believe those injuries come from having 5% more possession than our opponents.
The comment about small-sized players is interesting though. Are they more susceptible to injury than ‘normal-sized’ players? That seems to be the implication and if that is the case, we could just get some bigger players who are more robust. Of course the idea of going Full Mertesacker, from front to back, as a solution for our injury problems is ludicrous. The problems we have are nothing whatsoever to do with the size of our players. Look at the trio who are returning, all 6’+. Look at Arshavin, who rarely misses a game through injury and he’s not even taller than the corner flag.
I know there’s a lot of talk about there being some deep-lying issue that if we could solve would ensure so many of our players don’t miss so many games but I’m not sure there is. I just think we have assembled the most brittle squad of footballers since Osteoporosis United fashioned their Subbuteo team from fine bone china. Some players are generally fit all the time, some pick up niggles and strains far too easily or let those issues prevent them from playing when other players might just play on.
We have too many of that latter group and I think that’s all there is to it. I’m sure we look at a player’s medical record before we sign them … erm … well … uhm … leaving aside Arteta and Benayoun, two players in the final third of their career who have suffered serious injury in recent seasons who we signed without any medical tests whatsoever, I’m sure we do for the rest of the players we sign. It would be absolute folly not to but then Arsene has always liked to gamble on a player whose history of injury has made them a bit of a gamble.
Sometimes that pays off. Kanu, signed after Inter Milan discovered he was like the Tin Man from Wizard of Oz and didn’t have a heart. Marc Overmars was signed on the back of a serious knee injury. And, well, that’s all I can think of really. Apart from Arteta and Benayoun but you knew that already. There’s also been an element of bad luck too. Abou Diaby’s career has been essentially ruined by a bloke who now, according to The Tuesday Club podcast, works in a call centre. Aaron Ramsey and Eduardo suffered at the clumpen feet of Not That Kind Of Player. Ramsey, we hope, has sufficient youth to get past it. Eduardo didn’t.
And there will be those who say that over-reliance on players at too early an age might cause them problems. Cesc’s hamstrings, for example. Naturally sproinky or the consequence of playing so many games so soon in his career? Jack Wilshere’s ankle? Was it weakened by playing so much for us last season? I don’t actually think so. I think Jack’s injury was picked up against Switzerland while playing for England and was the consequence of a kick. Yet if that itself isn’t an amazing piece of ‘Powered by Arsenal’ self-destruction I don’t know what is.
And if you’re not sure what I’m about – have a look at this. I’m pretty sure that’s when it happened. And that’s not to blame anyone, tackles like that happen in games every weekend but it is curiously Arsenal.
Update: Lots of people point out it’s Jack’s right ankle that’s injured so it couldn’t have been that tackle. At least JD tried though,
So what is the solution? Beats me. We’ve got top facilities, cryogenic chambers, super-qualified staff, GPS bras, the lot, yet the problems persist. Is the methods, the pitches, the stretching (doubtful as players have spoken for years about how Wenger’s methods prolonged their careers), the diet, or just simply to do with the fact we have a lot of injury prone players and the luck of a man who broke a mirror while spilling the salt while opening an umbrella inside after stepping on a crack in the pavement? You can decide.
Other than that not much happening. If you need something else to pass the time arses regulars King Bilo and HighburySqrrl have put together this Arseblog Crossword which you can download, print out and have a go out.
And keep an eye out for something of an announcement coming soon. Maybe later today, maybe tomorrow. Who knows?*
Till next time
* I know.