Thursday, July 18, 2024

Games Arsenal players have missed in 2014/15

Morning all.

Probably a very quick one today because there’s not much going on other than Mathieu Flamini stating the obvious. I’ve got no real issue with that, especially as he’s touching on the issue I feel is the biggest impediment to this club being successful: injuries.

After the Liverpool game, he said:

We lost so many key players and having them back is very important for the team. We definitely need them because in the championship and the last stages of the Champions League, you cannot do it with 11 players. You need 25 so it is important for us to have them back.

I was going to look around for a thing which showed how many games our injured players have missed this season, but considering there’s nothing much else happening I put it together. Here we go:

Abou Diaby – 27/27
Serge Gnabry – 27/27
Theo Walcott25/27*
David Ospina – 25/27
Mesut Ozil – 18/27
Olivier Giroud – 18/27
Tomas Rosicky – 18/27*
Mathieu Debuchy – 17/27
Mikel Arteta – 15/27
Laurent Koscielny – 14/27
Jack Wilshere – 9/27
Nacho Monreal – 9/27
Kieran Gibbs – 8/27
Aaron Ramsey – 6/27

* Some of Rosicky’s absences may have been down to simply not being selected than injury. Also, even if we’d kept Thomas Vermaelen, he’d have been up there with Walcott and Diaby with a 27/27 as he hasn’t played at all this season and won’t until the next campaign due to the need for surgery. We sold Barcelona a pup there. Also, Theo was ‘available’ for Liverpool and as such should have been 26/27 but I think it’s obvious he wasn’t really fit so I’m counting it as a game missed.

Update: I had completely overlooked Theo coming on against Burnley and Swansea. It just feels like he’s been out the whole season.

After that you’re just in the realm of 3 or 4 games over the course of the season so far and I think you can put that down to natural wear and tear. It’s impossible to avoid some injuries, nobody’s suggesting we otherwise, but it’s impossible to look at the ones we have suffered and not think believe there’s serious room for improvement.

Now, not every injury is down to our own issues in this area. We definitely have problems but I don’t think any medical staff or fitness regime can legislate for a freakish incident like Giroud having his leg broken blocking a ball, or a nasty challenge like the one on Jack Wilshere that damaged his ankle. And maybe in this area we’re seeing some improvement, with Giroud back ahead of schedule and Debuchy too being ready more or less when we expected, without the word ‘setback’ coming into it.

However, other injuries need more examination. Poor planning in the summer, knowing that Koscielny had an ongoing problem, has exacerbated his Achilles tendon woes. That falls entirely on the manager and his recruitment staff for not bringing in the requisite defensive cover. I don’t doubt we were looking, but that we didn’t is something that needs to be looked at. It’s not because we don’t spend money any more. On the contrary, this was the summer in which spent more, and seemed willing to spend more, than any other time in our history, so the fault there is deeper than just being miserly.

But you look at Mikel Arteta’s issues this season and there’s something that’s open to question. That he’s 32 is probably a factor in it somewhere, but plenty of 32 year olds stay fit and don’t suffer the same injury three or four times in one season. Arteta is model pro, literally, conscientious and professional. A man who keeps himself in the best shape possible because he knows he’s in the final years of his career, yet we’ve been without arguably our most important midfield player for 15 of the 27 games we’ve played.

There must be an underlying problem. Is it his footwear, for example? Could it be something to do with his running style? Whatever it is, we seem unable to diagnose it and fix it. Look at the picture of him above when he came off against Dortmund, he’s absolutely gutted. The frustration of missing yet another clutch of games must be immeasurable, made worse by having gone through it a couple of times already in the season. If your car kept breaking down with the same problem, you’d start to question the mechanic, right?

People have suggested it’s the training methods or the playing surfaces but without more information and more data it’s impossible to say for sure. It might just be that we have a particularly brittle bunch of players but that’s the least likely option for me. They’re professional athletes who work hard, train well, live well, but who miss too much football season after season after season. That’s the key: it’s not as if injuries have been a problem in this campaign only, they’ve been a blight on the club for a long time now and nothing much seems to be improving.

In a way it makes talk of tactics, formations, zonal marking and everything else almost secondary because no football club in the world can achieve what it wants to achieve without its best players available for most of the season. We have some of our best players for some of the season and the impact of that is staring you right in the face when you look at the league table. Until we improve the injury situation, the team will continue to struggle.

Right, that’s about that for stating the obvious. A quick reminder for anyone in the London area looking for a last minute present for the Arsenal fan in their life. Copies of ‘Together: the story of Arsenal’s unbeaten season‘ are available behind the bar in The Tollington and sure you might as well have Christmas pint, or a large Knob, while you’re in there.

It’s too late for us to post then to you by Christmas, but feel free to order one anyway if you want one!

Till tomorrow.

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