Following Theo Walcott’s worrying injury against San Marino (who knew you could bruise a lung?) this seems like a good time to ask what has been the most damaging injury we have ever suffered.
I don’t mean damaging to the player (because surely Ramsey and Eduardo would jointly walk away with that one… well, hop away at any rate).
I mean damaging to Arsenal’s fortunes at the time.
Yes I know it’s a downbeat subject, but I’m feeling downbeat during this ridiculous two-week interlull*.
I know we’re supposed to be all “Cry God for Harry, England and Saint George” when Ingurland are on international duty, but I really couldn’t give a Gareth Bale’s uncle.
And so to the injuries which, given our abysmal history in recent years, should be a topic close to the hearts of most of us.
In the 2009-10 season Cesc Fabregas is proving to be an inspirational player. As the final day of March arrives, we are entertaining his DNA buddies from Barcelona in the Champions League quarter final (first leg); we are also sitting just four points behind Manchester United in the EPL, with six games to go. The Barca game finishes a 2-2 draw, with Captain Fabregas grabbing a memorable equalizer.
Unfortunately it emerges afterwards that even as he hit that goal to send the Emirates into ecstasy, he was suffering a leg fracture. Cesc misses the rest of the season and, without him, our form slumps. We lose the second leg in Barcelona and in the EPL we win only two of our remaining six matches to finish the season in third place, 11 points behind United.
If Fabregas had stayed fit, might we have ousted Barca and pushed on to CL and league glory? The answer to the first question is almost certainly “no” and to the second… “maybe.”
Van Persie (1)
Same season, 2009-10, and Robin van Persie is in fine form. He is named Player of the Month for October after a string of goals and assists. On November 14th he turns out for Holland in a “friendly’ against Italy.
A nasty tackle by the Italian defender Chiellini leaves him with an injured ankle and, supposedly, a six week lay-off. Clearly not wanting to become another of the “Disappeared Ones” in the Arsenal treatment centre, Robin pops over to Europe for some treatment with horse placenta and – Bingo! – six weeks out becomes five months.
Would a fit Robin have potentially sent us into the final run-in several points AHEAD of United rather than behind them? With the form he was in – very possibly.
Eduardo Horror Tackle
We probably all remember that day at Birmingham a bit too well. Arsenal are top of the league, the team are looking strong and, surely, glory awaits. Then, within minutes of the kick off, a lumbering Brummie oaf – Martin Taylor – dives in on our in-form Crozillian striker Eduardo and snaps his ankle in two.
The team are traumatised; captain William Gallas sits in the centre circle crying at the end of the game and, subsequently, our form drops quicker then a Towie girl’s knickers on a night out in Basildon.
Could we have won the league in 2008 but for Eduardo’s break? Most definitely YES.
Snap! Ramsey Horror Tackle
It is unbelievable when our boys have to experience an almost identical assault on another of their team mates, Aaron Ramsey, two years (almost to the day) later. In this case the offender is the Orc’s Orc, Ryan Shawcross, and the venue is the Britannia Ground where those classy Stoke fans boo young Aaron as he’s stretchered off to hospital.
In fairness, the team’s reaction was stronger this time round but we still had a disappointing finish to the 2009-10 season.
Did Aaron’s injury make a crucial difference? Given his youth and inexperience, probably not – but with the subsequent loss of Fabregas a month later it certainly didn’t help our midfield options.
Van Persie (2)
Come to think about it, this whole Post could have been about Brave Sir Robin, but I’ll keep it to two. In 2007-08, following the departure of Thierry Henry, it’s BSR’s turn to step into the limelight. He starts just as we would have hoped, with seven goals in 10 games. Then – yes, you’ve guessed – he goes off on international duty and comes back crocked. His involvement for the rest of the season is sporadic, to say the least.
Notwithstanding the trauma following the Eduardo injury, Robin’s full time presence in 2007-08 might well have given us the edge to find our way to silverware.
Football’s most charming man misses most of the 2005-06 season through injury, before following the smell of Maureen’s filthy lucre over to West London. We finish third that year, just ahead of the Spuds.
Flamini does a good job filling in in an unfamiliar position, but we undoubtedly lose something with not having Cole’s defensive solidity and attacking threat.
Could we have won silverware with him? A long shot, but it’s a possibility.
Those are the most telling ones from recent memory. There must have been devastating injuries from previous eras but I can’t seem to recall them.
Players just didn’t seem to get injured so much in the pre-Premier League age. Or maybe they did, but they were just pumped full of cortisone and sent out to get on with it: “Bruised lung? You’re havin’ a larf. Here, hold still while I give you this jab… that’s it – now get out there and kick someone.”
For what it’s worth, I believe the Eduardo injury was the most damaging of the ones I have listed.
The team was cooking on gas and I – and many Gooners – really felt the title was there for the taking.
The collapse in the team’s morale after the injury was disappointing (whatever happened to “let’s win it for Stumpy”?) but I do feel that we might have celebrated a 14th league title if it hadn’t happened.
What do you think?
And what injury blows have I missed off?
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