Monday, May 20, 2024

A sad Premier League debut for Jurrien Timber

It’s a sad start to today after news of a serious injury to Jurrien Timber emerged yesterday.

There had been nothing official from the club, but rumours that he had suffered an ACL injury began to circulate. There were some external reports from journalists on the Arsenal beat, and then the club issued a statement which said:

Further to his substitution during our match against Nottingham Forest on Saturday, Jurrien Timber has received extensive assessments and scans which have confirmed he has sustained an injury to his right knee.

Jurrien will undergo a further detailed assessment and review with a consultant in the coming days to assess the full extent of the injury, in order to determine the next steps. A further update will be provided in due course.

Everyone at the club will be focused on supporting Jurrien at this time.

Meanwhile, Dutch journalist Mike Verweij – who was extremely solid when it came to the reporting of Timber’s move to Arsenal – posted an update to say there had been an injury to the cruciate:

First, it’s really terrible news for the player. On his Premier League debut after a big move from Ajax, he has suffered an injury which – even in the best case scenario from here – is going to leave him sidelined for months. It’s just very sad and cruel for him on a personal level, and hopefully he can make a full and speedy recovery. It’s going to be a tough slog for him.

Secondly, it’s terrible news for Arsenal. Timber was one of the summer additions who was brought in to give us quality and depth, and now we’ll have to do without him. Whether it means we’ll dip back into the market is a discussion point I’ve seen plenty of since this news became public, and it’s not impossible we might do something, but the squad is already too big and we have to trim it down before we can even consider another addition.

Obviously questions will be asked as to how his situation was managed. He picked up an injury just before half-time, and didn’t really look comfortable when he came back on. At the break, the player – in consultation with the medical staff – underwent tests and it was felt he was fine to go back out for the second half. Obviously though, things didn’t go as well as hoped, as early in the second period he suffered another injury.

As I mentioned on the Arsecast Extra yesterday, I did a Patreon podcast with Dr Andrew Mitchell from the University of Bedfordshire about injuries, prevention, rehab etc – and he spoke about how one injury can often lead to another. Timber certainly didn’t go out for the second half with a ruptured ACL, but in the words of Andrew via email yesterday, “This is a classic example of a primary injury, leading to a secondary injury.”

By the way, that podcast is free to listen now via Patreon – https://www.patreon.com/posts/87376855

Hindsight is 20/20 of course, but I wonder if in this situation – Arsenal 2-0 up at home, dominating possession, in the five sub era, and with two players in Takehiro Tomiyasu and Jakub Kiwior who could come on in that position – the sensible thing to do is err on the side of caution and make the change. Maybe it’s something to consider going forward. Players will often push themselves through pain because they want to play, and you can understand why on his home debut Timber would have been keen to continue. Which isn’t to blame him, or the medical team who will have been guided by his responses to them, but maybe it’s a learning moment for anything like this in the future.

The flip side of this is that the sensible approach won’t often win you too many plaudits. You can’t say with certainty that because we took off X player we 100% prevented Y injury, and there are so many other factors that will inform how people view that kind of decision – not least the impact on the game/result. However, this is another reason why you need a big, deep squad – subs don’t have to be just about how you change a game, but also how you protect a player.

Again, it’s just really sad news for Timber, and all we can do is wish him the very best with his recovery. Further assessment of his injury will give the club the full picture, and it may be that there is additional damage on top of the ACL part of things. Fingers crossed it’s as uncomplicated as this can be.

As for the implications in terms of the squad and the transfer market, I don’t expect anything in the very short term. On the right there’s still Ben White, Takehiro Tomiyasu and William Saliba, with Gabriel, Kiwior and Zinchenko on the left. Given Timber was signed ostensibly to play on the right, I don’t think it will change much for Kieran Tierney, for example, and there are rumours of West Ham interest. Other defenders on the fringes like Rob Holding, Nuno Tavares, and Cedric aren’t really the answer either, and I suspect they will depart before the end of the window. Then it’s about whether there’s room for another player in a 25 man squad, and what opportunity, if anything, is out there in the market.

We signed Timber to a 5 year deal, his long-term future is here, and I’d be surprised if we went out and just bought another player. If the right man was available on loan, that might be the way around this, but the last few weeks of the window can often throw up some strange deals so let’s see.

Right, I’ll leave it there. There’s a brand new Arsecast Extra for you, recorded yesterday evening. Listen below, or wherever you get your podcasts. More here tomorrow.

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