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.
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.