Simple solution to Arsenal’s injury problems

And another 3 bite the dust.

Just as we begin to get some players back from injury, Aaron Ramsey & Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain returning, Theo Walcott a week away, we go ahead an lose another 3. And it stinks of predictable familiarity.

We all know it is going to happen. Every year. Injuries. It is perhaps the most predictable thing in football. Arsenal will get injuries. Lot’s of them.

Over recent years, many reasons have been bought forward for our injury issues. Inadequate medical team. Over playing players. Rushing players back from injury. Playing too much too long. Dodgy training pitches. Voodoo curses. And more. But for me, the reasoning is the most simple.

Some players are more injury prone than others, and we have too many injury prone players.

Everyone’s body is different. Think of your work place, some people get ill everytime there is a cold around. Some people never get ill. Think of your 5 a side team. There are always a couple of players who have to stretch more than others, have to cancel due to injury. Whilst others play 52 weeks of the year, never stretch, never any issues.

Think in days gone past. Jamie Redknapp. Darren Anderton. Owen Hargreaves. Players who were pictured frolicking on the beach more than they were pictured on the pitch.

Every team always has and carry’s injury prone players. Phil Jones at Manchester United. Diego Costa and his hamstrings at Chelsea. Even Sergio Aguero and Vincent Kompany and Manchester City. Every team has them.

But the key is to not have too many injury prone players. And to have adequate cover.

For example, Manchester City only have 2 who are constantly returning from fitness. They might be there best players, but it is still only the 2. And to back them up they have top class cover. Not as good, but good enough.

The problem with Arsenal is too many injury prone players.

We can all name them.

Jack Wilshere
Tomas Rosicky
Theo Walcott
Mikel Arteta
Aaron Ramsey
Kieran Gibbs
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Laurent Koscielny

Over recent years, they have all missed big chunks of the season. Too many players missing too many games.

So what solution is there for having injury prone players. As seen with Diaby, there is no magic cure. No matter how often, how slowly, our how many different methods used, an injury prone player will rarely get a clean bill of health for a long period of time.

The only way to defend against it is to reduce the amount of injury prone players in the squad. At 8 player’s, 1/3 of Arsenal’s squad has that injury prone tag. That is too many.

Now for a solution which will probably make people unhappy. Kick off. Complain.

We should sell them.

Maybe not all of them. But most of them.

Some of them at the end of the season will be natural wastage. Rosicky & Arteta. That will be two off the wage bill from day one.

Then going down the list. We have Wilshere and Ramsey. Both excellent central midfielders. But both with horrendous injury records. Can Arsenal really carry both? No.

I would sell Jack Wilshire. There, I said it. Come at me.

He is 24 in January. And over recent years, has started just 63 league games from a possible 166. That is just 38% of league games played over nearly 4 and a half seasons.

Let us be honest, if he was French, black and 6 3 we would all be calling him deadwood. A waste of a wage. He get’s away with it because he is Wilshere. English. Loyal. An Arsenal boy.

If we were all honest with ourselves, we would all agree. Wilshere is a player who’s injuries mean that he should not be an Arsenal player.

Of course, some will say get rid of Ramsey. You are entitled to that opinion.  In the same period, Ramsey has played 131 games. Nearly twice as many as Wilshere. And has performed to a higher level. Just 35 league games missed. Maybe I was a bit harsh grouping Ramsey with Wilshere? Saying that, for many clubs, 35 games missed over the last is injury prone.

Kieran Gibbs is another one. In recent years his injury’s do seem to have slightly cleared up, but you have to question the value of keeping a back up left back with glass ankles. Nacho Monreal picks up an injury, he then gets replaced by a guy who can not string a dozen games together. It is crazy.

The Oxlade-Chamberlain / Walcott situation is similar to that of Wilshere and Ramsey. You could carry one of them.

In his shortish career, Oxlade-Chamberlain has never played over 25 league games. Theo Walcott over 30 league games twice. It is the same scenario again. You can carry one injury prone talented player, but it is pointless if his replacement is also injury prone. Chances are he will be injured too.

I am not fussed which one would leave. Walcott is the better player (I really do not rate Oxlade-Chamberlain), but Chamberlain younger.

Walcott has suffered throughout his career with problems. Shoulders, hamstrings. Oxlade-Chamberlain just seems to continually break down.

Laurent Koscielny is also a worry. Back problems. Achilles problems. He is having issues like he is an old man. Once your back go’s, other problems arise. We saw it with Thierry Henry. With Rio Ferdinand. With Michael Clarke. Koscielny’s continual back issues are a problem.

Luckily his back up includes Mertesacker, Gabriel & Chambers, 3 players with a fairly good clean bill of health. He would be worth keeping.

The problem with having too many injury prone players is that when you have your normal injuries that every player suffers in the duration of a season – such as Olivier Giroud breaking his foot whilst blocking a clearance, the absence is felt more.

Alexis Sanchez, for example, does not have a history of major injury problems. But his absence will now be felt more due to the continually issues suffered by Chamberlain & Walcott. Had we only had one of those plus a player who can actually remain fit, we would be in a better position. With their injury problems and now Sanchez out, we are in a crisis.

By reducing the amount of injury prone players in the squad, we will automatically increase how many players are fit. It would mean that an injury such as Welbeck’s, really unusual and unlike him, would not be felt as much, and it would mean we would not need to rush players back, causing further injury.

So the solution? Sell Wilshere and either Oxlade-Chamberlain or Theo Waclott this summer.

Replace these and one of Arteta and Rosicky with players with no injury issues and suddenly the squad will look stronger. The medical team more adequate. The training facilities world class.

Of course, replacing them is important.

In the summer one of our targets at the time was Sami Khedira. A player with horrendous recent injury problems. He went to Juventus. And got injured. What is the point?

Same with the likes of Javi Martinez & Ilkay Gundogan. Two more players who whilst talented, have had poor recent long term injuries.

It really is that simple. Sell those who are always crocked. Replace them with players who are not injury prone.

Then we could win the league.


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5 thoughts on “Simple solution to Arsenal’s injury problems

  1. tfsmudge

    You don’t rate Oxlade-Chamberlain keenos ?!? You’re entitled to your opinion fella but I know who I’d rather keep. Would half of that squad be there if we hadn’t got rid of Dein many moons ago I wonder ? Gazumped and stymied by the likes of Chavs, both the Mancs and elite of Europe. Lots of hot air and disappointment. Maybe it’s that ‘economics degree’ mentality that puts us in this position, this time of year, year after year. There used to be speak of ‘efficiency’ and our ‘clinical’ nature when describing the likes of Bergkamp, Vieira and Henry. So what’s happened 10 years on… we’re neither efficient nor clinical ! The youngsters don’t seem to blossom as much. Chambers ? Even Kane was on our books. He’ll be kicking himself we didn’t discover Vardy, surely the bargain of the season, but equally sure he would have been out injured in time for Xmas. And remembering the January window after we got anihilated by ManUre, we bought Mertesacker and Arteta. Cringe… the bfg was good… once. Arteta certainly shone in the Everton team we beat 6-1 a season or so earlier ! Unfortunately fit or not, we surprisingly built the squad around them. Fit or not, is Gabriel any good ? This has been going wrong a long time and there’s now one very simple solution I’m afraid… need I spell it out.

  2. paul35mm

    The ‘injury prone’ tag is a nasty one. In some cases though, you have to accept it. I do not think you can label Ramsey as inry prone though. His one major injury was due to a vicious tackle.

    In my mind you can’t just replace a guy like Jack Wilshire. He does things not many other players do. He drives the ball on the dribble, he passes effectively, he can score, and he is a willing (if rash) defender. I agree he gets leeway because he’s white and English, but English players get a lot of leeway on top teams because of Champions League requirements.

    I would lean towards selling Ramsey if the choice is him or Wilshire. For me, Wilshire, when fit, offers more urgency and more skills when he’s on the pitch. Ramsey is worth more but he does not play for the team when he’s on the pitch. When he’s wide right, he never stay out there; he comes inside, narrows the pitch, and stifles the Arsenal attack. He’s a natrual central midfielder, but not as good as Cazorla in that role, and wide right, he’s not as good as either Campbell, Chamberlain, or Walcott.

    I agree with the Chamberlain/Walcott pairing. Arsenal should sell Chamberlain over seas. He would be a much better player in a league without so much contact. He’s score 20+ goals in the Eredivisie.

    You could say the same for Walcott, but Walcott is a difference maker when he’s on the pitch. Chamberlain, for me, is not much if at all better than Joel Campbell (who never seems injured).

    Rosicky is a terrific player who is coming to the end of his Premier League career. It’s hard to see him returning for next season, but he has no vaue in the transfer market and is a top-notch squad player when he’s fit. Keep him until summer and release him. The same for Arteta. No one is paying much for Arteta in January; though if he wanted to go, Arsenal should let him. In the summer both players should go, but Arsene Wenger likes squad players he trusts and he trusts both of these guys.

    As far as Gibbs goes, he’s class. He’s the best left back in England and has been for three years. That might be damned praise, but with Shaw out for a long time if not permanently, Baines coming to the thankful end of a career that was more smoke and mirrors than substance, and other options just not in Gibb’s class, he will emerge as Arsenal’s first choice left back very soon. I can see him taking the mantle next year, swapping back and forth with Monreal. He’s quicker, more athletic, and more decisive than monreal; he just needs to remember his first duty is defense.

  3. Ogban

    I agree. That’s why I can’t understad why the club extended the contracts of Arteta and Rosicky, they hardly kicked a ball all last season. Intriguing to say the least

  4. Sequeira

    Majority of your article makes no sense to me. Just curious as to how long you have been following the injury problem. If you look back at your list you can see that all the players you mentioned did not have injury problems (except a few minor) before joining Arsenal. 5 to 6 years under Wenger and boom they are injury prone (except Jack and Rambo who broke their legs). Finally I would like to say 2 more things :
    1) If Wenger stays another 3 years at Arsenal you will see the likes of Cazorla, Ozil and Sanchez all becoming injury prone too (if they choose to stay at Arsenal, which I doubt Sanchez and Ozil will). This is because Wenger will ALWAYS be pressure to play these guys in every game because every time Arsenal look like they can pull ahead they pull a WBA and Norwich.
    2) If Wenger leaves and we get a good replacement you will probably see a big drop in the number of injuries.
    Finally, I would like to say I don’t care if Wilshere plays 15-20 total games a season, I would still not want to see him go considering only 3 players in Arsenal arguably have better technical quality. Especially knowing the fact that once he goes to a new club his condition of injury prone will disappear.

  5. Pingback: Arsene Wenger the Fraudulent Genius | She Wore A Yellow Ribbon

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