For a long time I have been of the opinion that there was nothing wrong with Arsenal’s training, medical team, pitch, or forcing players to return early, when it came to our injury issues over the years.
I had a much more basic reasoning for Arsenal’s injury problems. That we had too many players who were naturally injury prone.
The recent problems of Vincent Kompany has supported my opinion further.
The Belgium international has now picked up his 35th injury since joining Manchester City. And incredible amount. Despite many different managers, many different training programmes, one thing has remained a constant, Kompany being injured.
It is not just the amount of injuries he has had, but the length of time it takes him to return from injuries. 9 weeks for a ‘slight thigh strain’, 6 weeks for a minor calf strain. Not only does Kompany pick up a lot of injuries, he also takes an age to recover from them.
In 2015/16, he suffered 5 injuries, seeing him out injured for 283 days our of 365.
He reminds of the likes of Jack Wilshere and Abou Diaby. It takes an age for him to get fit, and when rumours start rumbling that he is fit once more, or he actually steps on a football pitch, he breaks down again. Another month+ out.
Daniel Sturridge is another one. Always out injured. Takes forever for him to return, and he is only a slight ankle twist from being out for another 6 months.
The likes of Daniel Sturridge & Vincent Kompany picking up so many injuries when others around them seem immortal can not be a coincidence. It will be due to the physical make up of their bodies.
We are all unique. Some of us put on weight just by looking at a Krespy Kreme, others can eat for 6 and never put on weight. Some take a dozen days a year off work with colds, headaches and other alignments, others haven’t taken a day off work in 12 years. It is all to do with our genetic code.
And it is the same as with muscles and joints. Some of us are built strong. We would have never have picked up an injury. When we fell out the tree as a kid, we bounced, got back up, and climbed back up. Others are built weak. Always turning an ankle on a kerb. Always in and out of hospital as a child due to breaking arms just falling over.
We are all made differently.
When it comes to Arsenal, the biggest reason we suffered so many injury problems over the years was simple. We had too many players who were naturally injury prone.
Robin van Persie, Thomas Vermaelen, Samir Nasir, Tomas Rosicky, Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey, Theo Walcott, Kieran Gibbs and, of course, Abou Diaby. The majority had injury issues when they joined us, injury issues whilst playing for us, and injury issues after leaving us.
You could perhaps carry one or two injury prone players. Talented guys who when fit, were
worthwhile keeping around. Arsenal did this when they had both Emmanuel Adebayor and Robin van Persie. The effect of the Dutchman being out was felt less due to having decent back up.
The trick is simple. Do not have too many injury prone players in your squad at one time. And if you do have one who often breaks down, ensure the back up players are of sufficient quality.
There is no point keeping someone like Abou Diaby around if his cover is Jack Wilshere. Then Jack Wilshere’s cover is Aaron Ramsey. The odds are all 3 players will be out at the same time. And then you are screwed. This happened more than once at Arsenal.
This year, however, feels different. We do not seem to be carrying as many naturally injury prone players in our squad as yesteryear.
The likes of Tomas Rosicky and Mikel Arteta have left us. Jack Wilshere out on loan. Last year these 3 players scored 303 Premier League appearances between them. With Jack Wilshere making the only start.
But offloading all three, Arsenal have basically taken 3 guys out of the treatment room, off the PhysioRoom.com Premier League Injury Table, and instantly made Arsenal’s injury problems less problematic.
No changes in training, no changes in pitch, no horse placenta. Just getting rid of injury prone players has given us a fitter squad.
Of the 6 players currently out injured, none of them would be described as injury prone.
Santi Cazorla is borderline. It is his 2nd long injury in 12 months, and how long it it taking him to get back fit is mystifying, nearly to Tomas Rosicky levels. Danny Welbeck is similar, But neither are yet at the level of the likes of Diaby, Rosicky, or Arteta.
The others out injured are not a worry.
Now by getting rid of those who are historically always out, it has meant that we have felt the impact of injuries less.
Santi Cazorla is out. in previous years, we would also have Arteta, Wilshere and Rosicky out. Which would have left us with just Aaron Ramsey and Francis Coquelin in the middle of the park. Ramsey would then pick up an injury for being over played – and he has only just returned from 3 months out – and we would be screwed.
But Arteta, Wilshere and Rosicky have been replaced with Mohamed Elneny and Granit Xhaka. Two players with good injury records. And what that has left us with is options, even when a couple of key players are out injured.
Per Mertesacker is another one. The Arsenal captain’s absence has not been felt as Laurent Koscielny, Shkodran Mustafi and Gabriel has remained fit. Koscielny’s long term achilles and back issues seem to have cleared up.
So there is no genius reason why Arsenal have not suffered the injury problems this season that we have previous. It is just that we have less injury prone players.
Arguably just Kieran Gibbs, Aaron Ramsey and Theo Walcott.
The likes of Vincent Kompany, Daniel Sturridge, Andy Carroll & Jack Wilshere highlight that injuries are often more to do with the players own individual make up, rather than anything more serious than that.
Think of history. Arjen Robben, Darren Anderton, Jamie Redknapp, and many, many more. Players who were always injured. Whilst team mates barely missed a game.
For me, Santi Cazorla and Danny Welbeck are in last chance saloon. Both have now missed a lot of game time over 12 months injured. If they can not get fit, and stay fit, then they should be shipped out, replaced with players who can stay fit.
Chelsea won the league a few years back using hardly any players. They kept everyone fit. The same with Leicester last year. Spurs only fell away when they started to lose players in the last 10 games. Fitness is key in the Premier League. You need to keep your players fit.
And to keep your players fit, you need to recruit fit players.
It does not matter how talented you are, if you can not stay fit, you are useless.