We’re all still sore from getting Orc-swiped at the weekend and there is a temptation to lash out at the players and the manager.
But probably the most significant names in Saturday’s defeat are those of people who weren’t even there: Aaron Ramsey and Theo Walcott. With them available we would probably have won that game.
The truth is, we have become so accustomed to losing key players for large chunks of the season at Arsenal that we barely even question it.
Yet question it we should. We should be shouting, screaming and demanding answers.
Such is the nature of football that all clubs face injuries from time to time. But only Arsenal has an attrition rate to rival the first week of the Somme.
Here’s the current EPL injury league table… and guess who’s top:
That table on its own wouldn’t matter so much – any team can have bad luck – were it not for the fact that we were first or second in the EPL Injury League table for the previous five seasons.
I have heard it said that our high-possession style of play increases the likelihood of our players getting injured (we have more of the ball and we move it quickly, inviting challenges which often come in late, taking the man not the ball).
We’re not the only team in the Premier League that keeps the ball. We’re just the only team that likes to hog the top spot in the Injury Table. In any case, a disproportionate amount of our injuries seem to come from hamstring pulls and muscle issues rather than impact issues.
That tells me that there is something wrong with the way we train or the way our players are monitored by the medical team.
A year or so ago – following repeated criticism of the club’s medical record – journalists and bloggers were invited to Arsenal’s new “state-of-the-art” medical facility.
Even celebrated Arsenal observers like Arseblog came back from being wined and dined to write in glowing terms of how simply awesome the facilities were. And since then the rumblings of discontent about our injury record have mostly been silenced. As a PR exercise by the club it worked brilliantly.
The deafening silence surrounding the issue was disturbed only by the twanging of ligaments and the snapping of tendons as our players dropped like leaves in Autumn.
I don’t claim to have any knowledge of issues medical. I once went to casualty with what I told them was food poisoning only to be admitted for pneumonia.
But I do know that Arsenal’s permanent residency at the summit of the Injury League is an absolute scandal that needs addressing.
There are many reasons why we have underachieved in recent years, but our roll-call of the sick and the damned is surely up there among the very best of them.
I wouldn’t want to traduce the reputations of the medical team at Arsenal. I have no doubt that they are dedicated professionals and are as frustrated as we are that our players seem all to have been manufactured by Swarovski. But surely it’s time for another external evaluation of our training and medical methods?
The current record is simply indefensible and unsustainable.
Ivan, Arsène , Sir French Fries… Sort it out!