Will winning the title next season be determined by Arsenal’s injury list?

I recently saw a clip of Guardiola sarcastically clapping his medical team during a league game against Leverkusen.

It was reported that the relationship between the club’s doctor and manager has been visibly strained this season. When Benatia went off injured against Bayer Leverkusen in the German Cup recently, a furious Guardiola walked straight over to the chief doctor Hans-Wilhelm Müller-Wohlfahrt on the bench and clapped sarcastically in his face.

Bayern fielded a weakened team against Porto in the CL and were beaten 3:1 without the injured Arjen Robben, Franck Ribery, Mehdi Benatia, Bastian Schweinsteiger, David Alaba and Javi Martinez. Even the best teams fail when the injury list is too long.

Müller-Wohlfahrt released this statement “After the Champions League match of Bayern Munich against Porto the medical department was for some inexplicable reason made primarily responsible. The bond of trust has been damaged.”

The following day, the whole medical team resigned claiming that it had been scapegoated for the poor performance.

This got me wondering how many of the repeat injuries that players suffer are down to the poor quality of the medical staff and physios and how much to do with managers wanting players ‘patched up’ to be sent out onto the pitch when not fully recovered? It looks like Guardiola was unhappy that a player had become injured during a game, not that he was throwing a paddy because his best payers were in the treatment room.

What is apparent is that the medical staff and physios play a huge part in team management these days and can make the difference between winning titles and falling short.

We all know that Arsenal has suffered a disproportional number of injuries in recent years and we also know that Arsene has identified this as a problem and brought in new medical personnel and the medical centre at London Colney has been upgraded. At the start of Sundays FA Cup semi final, there was only one squad player missing through injury – The Ox, and he is due back in 2 weeks. I can’t remember the last time we had so many players available.

Could it be that we have at last come to grips with the underlying cause of our injury problems? Well I certainly hope so because with the quality we have in the squad, rotation for the sake of resting players rather than covering for injury will be key to our success next season.


86 Responses to Will winning the title next season be determined by Arsenal’s injury list?

  1. ‘morning all,

    To answer your question Rasp, Injuries may well play a part but there are so many other factors that come into the equation, that picking just one is nigh on impossible.

    In view of the number of injuries during the current, and passed, seasons Wenger must have been under pressure to bring back players before they were fully fit.

    The medical staff and the player concerned obviously have a say but the final decision is the manager’s. Except, perhaps in the case of Leeds United, where six players recently declared that they were unfit to play in the next day’s match.

    No matter how good the medical staff and facilities are, and how fit the players are, there will always be the injuries caused by the foul play of opponents, as in the example of Wilshere’s latest episode when he was crocked by some buffoon in a Man. U. shirt.

    I like to think that we will win the Premiership next season despite our injury list.

    I’m 67.25% confident 😀

    I’ve just re-read my coment and realised that I have not in fact answered your question Rasp.

    Put me down as a don’t know!

  2. RC78 says:

    I think that a team has a core/spine of players that have to remain fit for most part of the season.

    If this core is injury-prone, it just affects the team’s ability to get titles. In recent years, the teams that have won the league and CL always had a strong and fit core that played almost all games…

    For us, a core is starting to emerge:
    Ospina – Kos – Coq – Sanchez – Giroud and this core needs to be fit at all time

    I would also like to add OX to this core as he is a cracking player 🙂 When it comes to Ramsey, Cazorla and Ozil, I think thaured at the same time, we shuld be able to cope…

    Then there is the issue of Walcott – when fit, he adds another dimension to our game and can be quite an asset so there you go – my extended core:

    Ospina – Kos – Ox, Coq, + Ramsey or Santi or Ozil – Walcott, Sanchez – Giroud

    If this core stays fit throughout the season, we will be fine and contending.

    If not, which is most likely the case, we need to bulk up our back-up options especially at:

    GK, CB, DM and Winger position

  3. RC78 says:

    And yes – teams that can keep their core players fit usually win the EPL title (Chelsea, Man Utd and Man City) and our 2003-2004 run…

  4. Rasp says:

    Hi RC78, I agree. Many are blaming Chelski’s recent drop off in form on the fact that Maureen likes a settled team and rotates as little as possible – consequently his players are on ‘burn-out’ by the end of the season. The answer has to lie somewhere between a settled team and giving pitch time to the second choice players to keep them match fit.

    Incidentally, it looks like the pressure is getting to Guardiola again – what’s the betting he resigns at the end of the season if they don’t reach the CL final?

  5. RC78 says:

    Guardiola is supposed to do one more season at Bayern before joining Man City…according to Spanish media.

    I think Man City may appoint a due composed of P. Vieira and someone else in the current coaching team in the end for a year and then they will get Guardiola.

  6. Rasp says:

    This is good news ……

    ….. Michael Johnson has been recruited to improve the speed and strength of players in the Gunners’ youth structure, so they are better equipped for first-team football.

    The 400m world record holder won the 200m and 400m Olympic titles at the 1996 games, as well as the 4x400m relay gold four years earlier, and a further 400m title in Sydney in 2000.

    He also has eight World Championship gold medals to his name, and believes he can be of assistance at the Emirates.

    “It’s about developing athletes. How do you bring an athlete from seven or eight years old all the way through to their full development as a 17 or 18 year-old,” he said.

    “We don’t work with the first-team players. We specialise in youth athletics development and are seen as the experts in that”

  7. RA says:

    Well done, Rasper, a very nice Post. 🙂

    I understand that the Guardiola incident is multifaceted, and probably specific to Bayern.

    Dr Müller-Wohlfahrt has been the medical supremo at Bayern for some 40 years or so, and is highly respected by athletes and footballers from all over the world. As a consequence, his practise is based some 5 miles from the club.

    Bayern, as you said, have experienced a number of high profile injuries, and I suspect that the nice, composed Guardiola used this and the non-exclusivity of Müller-Wohlfart as an excuse when Porto larruped Bayern in the CL.

    This pettiness has not gone down well at the club.

    When you compare his behaviour with AW’s when he did not publicly berate anyone for Arsenal’s appalling list of injuries in the last few years – you can tell who is the class act.

    In answer to your question, you need to first separate the cause of injuries from the speed of recovery, or the breakdown in recovery from injuries.

    The cause of the injuries is down to football being a physical game and can also happen quite accidentally, even in a pre-game warm up, or fooling around at home, or after smoking too much weed.

    The treatment of the injuries has become more and more specialised and all clubs now try to keep abreast of new techniques, and it would take a brave blogger to comment one way or another on how well, or not, specific injuries are being treated, or what causes break downs when some players – usually long-term patients – try to get back.

    Injuries obviously interfere with a team’s ability to win — but, in the case of the Gunners, there is a clique of idiots around, who in their ignorance look for any reason to upbraid Arsene Wenger, and choose to blame him for the cause of the injuries, the treatment of the injuries and for pressurising the players to come back too soon — however, the question is – how would they know?
    All specialist doctors – presumably.

    I would have to ask NG. 🙂

  8. RC78 says:

    excellent news indeed
    now i d be happy to see these guys come as Part-Time coaches:
    – Seaman – GK coach
    – Sol Campbell – CB Coach
    – Lauren join – FB Coach
    – Parlour join – DM/CM coach
    – Pires or Ljunberg – Wingers coach
    – Bergkamp and Henry – Forward coach

    They would bring in their Arsenal DNA, their experience, skills and also their winning history and hunger to see the club do well

  9. Rasp says:

    Thanks Redders, this was another hasty effort in my attempt to satisfy Raddy’s ‘one post per week’ criterion.

    It seems that AW is systematically dispelling all the myths that grew during our years of ‘austerity’ post Emirates construction. We can no longer say he won’t pay big bucks for players, and now it looks like he is doing his best to address the injuries situation.

  10. RC78 says:

    RA- Sometimes coaches have to play a player due to other players’ injuries, which is not ideal but it happens…AW did it with Ramsey this and last year…

    In the end – there is also the player’s own physical structure that is a big component in minor/muscular injuries…You look at Ramsey and Ox with their thighs and groin injuries – same with Rosicky and Wilshere and their ankles and Kos and his Achilles…

    Some players are naturally more prone to injuries than others…I think that somehow, you can detect that when they start building up their EPL Frame so between 18 and 22…If you know the weakness of a player, then you may be able to have specific trainings and all…But if a plyer is too injury prone or can become injury prone, you may want to get rid of him in time and/or offer him contracts that reflect these weaknesses…

    Diaby can be outstanding when fit but he is fit 20 games over 5 years…

  11. RA says:


    I am not convinced that Wenger ever ‘tells’ an unfit player to turn out for the team – whatever the pressure – as it would be counter-productive.

    Some players have later admitted that they told lies, and said they were OK when they were not. The reason? Because they were concerned that in a competitive squad they did not want someone else to take their place.
    If, as a consequence, they break down it would be Wenger’s fault in the eyes of some.

    Other players, such as Sanchez, are said to sulk if they are rested, because they want to play every game – and the result is they can look tired (as Sanchez has on occasion) or are not fully fit when they insist on returning (Jack and Rambo) and in my opinion that should carry a health warning, as an unfit player risks further injury.

  12. gart66 says:

    Everyone likes to attach significance to things but I really feel injuries in any sport come down to luck or lack thereof. Blaming the medical staff just reeks of idiocy on Pep’s part.

  13. Rasp says:

    Hi gart, welcome. I think you’re right in Pep’s case, it was probably just petulance, but nevertheless resulted in high profile staff resigning.

    The stats of Arsenal’s injuries in the last 6 years cannot just be down to bad luck. There are many reasons why players get soft tissue injuries beyond the tackles that can’t be avoided. I’m sure there isn’t one single reason in Arsenal’s case, but a combination of factors. Not the least style of play (inviting tackles) and lack of protection by referees. The physios, fitness coaches and medical staff all play their part as well and it is those areas where AW has concentrated recently.

  14. RA says:

    Was I right at 12:30 then, Rasp? 🙂

  15. Rasp says:

    Spot on as per usual Redders 😀

  16. Rasp says:

    I’m delighting in the manner that Micheal Owen is making such a complete fool of himself by his criticism of Ozil. You’d have thought that someone who played the game for as long as Owen would appreciate the brilliantly subtle efficacy of Ozil’s play – but no, the new gift to the increasingly lengthy list of lame commentators thinks Ozil is overrated and Sterling is a better player ……. what a twat 😕

  17. Gööner In Exile says:

    Download this weeks Guardian Football Weekly podcast, Amy Lawrence makes a valid point about the appointment of our new man at the start of the season, she apparently wrote an article that was thrown back in her face when we started to suffer all the injuries again.

    She said that the guys that have come in are focussed on altering movement styles that our players have probably had since young to avoid pressurising certain parts of their body, this is an individual approach, she says the fact that we only have one or two out presently is testament to the new medical team.

    So for arguments sake the way Ox runs could create a problem with his thighs/groin. So changing his movement could improve this.

    I’m pretty sure when I glanced across at our subs warming up on the weekend Jack Wilshere was hopping on his ankles 5 or 6 each side before a series of left/right hops it’s an exercise I have not seen many players do in warm ups before so wondered whether this was due to new medical team trying to find away to loosen his ankles before taking the pitch and also to give him some confidence in their strength. Maybe also to strengthen the muscles around the weak ligaments.

    I’d say our current position bodes well in term of fitness, obviously you cannot avoid the kicks, and hard landings and the occasional freakish ones where a change of direction stretches a muscle the way you don’t normally but you can do your best to avoid the day to day strains and also to ensure players come back quickly.

    The interesting thing from this is that now we maybe don’t need to have 25 men in the squad maybe we can start to focus on 15 top earners, 5 good earners and the rest gambles this could help us shift our squad dynamic too.

    Then again Jordan Henderson just got a £100k a week five year deal at Anfiels so god knows what you have to pay the top players!

  18. RC78 says:

    I wish we would get less footballers as commentators and more football specialists…I would rather have a former coach or a sports journalist than the Nevilles, Shearers and other Savage and Owen…They think they are “authorities” on everything…So infuriating. I would say that most AAers seem to understand footie a lot better than these so-called pundits…

  19. No argument there Rasp.

    Redders, I didn’t actually say that the nice Monsieur Wenger had brought back players before they were fully recovered. “In view of the number of injuries during the current, and passed, seasons Wenger must have been under pressure to bring back players before they were fully fit”. I’m sure he would do no such thing. 😀

  20. RC78 says:

    I d take Henderson over Wilshere any day…despite really liking Wilshere…Henderson is better defensively and is more decisive offensively with both assists and goals…He really blossomed last year

  21. Gööner In Exile says:

    Rasp good question by the way.

    And on Owen well it’s hard to understand how foolish he can be must have been hanging around with Savage for too long.

    Watching Ozil on the weekend was a real eye opener, I know now why he does so many yards that go unnoticed on TV, he was always showing and changing position but too often Gibbs and Rambo and some others refused to give him the ball. He had a man on, so they had erred on side of caution but you could see afterwards that what he was then gesticulating was “give me the f’ing ball, and I can play it there first time” (or something like that).

    The problem is Owens view point will gain weight because 90% of people watching are only watching the TV so miss what else he brings. As I said on the weekend I could see the run of Sanchez and the passing route through the defence, and that Ozil could at pitch level being closed down and not just see it but deliver it perfectly is why he is better than most other sin the PL.

  22. RC78 says:

    My England squad at the moment:

    Hart – Walker, Cahill, Jagielka, Baines – Henderson, Carrick – Barkley – Sterling, Rooney, Sturridge

    Foster – Johnson, Chambers, Cline, Shaw – Wilshere, Barry, Milner – Walcott, Kane, Lallana

  23. Gööner In Exile says:

    Henderson is two years older than Wilshere and a lot less time on the injury list, I’d wait a while before doing away with the latter.

  24. RC78 says:

    Ozil is one of the best passers around…Few players like him…I think Kroos, Pastore, Pirlo can compare but he is definitely up there

  25. RC78 says:

    GiE – I hope for us that you are right 🙂

  26. Could injuries be caused by the lack of sufficient warm up time.

    At the start of the game the players have to hang about in the tunnel, then walk out and stand around until it’s time to shake hands with the opposition, before waiting for the ref to be given the signal to start the game.

    In planned substitutions, the subs “warm up” with a few sprints along the touchline, a bit of stretching, or in Wilshere’s case, hopping from foot to foot as GiE has said.

    In the case of a substition due to injury, we see the sub coming on with virtually no warm up whatsoever. just a quick glance at the coaches picture book and out into the fray. So a trained and valuable athlete is expected to perform instantly after sitting huddled on the bench for maybe half an hour with minimal warm up time. Extraordinary!

  27. RC78, why don’t more players like him?

  28. RA says:


    I was relying more on your astute summing up of the situation, in general, rather than anything you said. 🙂

    Now if it was GB, the Wormer, or Large Animal Vet ………. well that could have been different! 🙂

  29. Rasp says:

    Thanks GiE, very interesting article about our new fitness regimes, I’m pretty sure they have made a difference – at least we can’t be accused of not addressing the situation.

  30. Redders, OK….I think. 😀

  31. Rasp says:

    GiE, I quite like the fact that Ozil’s quality is too clever and subtle for some – unfortunately a significant number of Arsenal supporters fall into this category. I just hope he doesn’t take any notice of the rubbish written about him.

    I’m sure Arsene is very supportive, and Maureen is also a big fan. If managers with opposing philosophies rate the same player he must be something special.

  32. Big Raddy says:

    Rasp. Thank you for the post. To a certain extent I agree with Gart – it is luck. However, the players are extraordinary fit which we can see by the fact they can play at 100% from the first whistle to the last.

    Let’s see how we are for injuries after Xmas.

  33. Rasp says:

    Thanks Raddy, don’t take this the wrong way 🙂 but how many times does something have to be repeated before you would consider it to be more than luck based?

    My son is currently doing his Masters in applied sports physiology. He is specialising in training top level endurance athletes. We’re talking about making miniscule adjustments that may only produce a less than 1% improvement. The stuff he has been telling me about the technical level of assessment and resultant individually tailored training, diet and exercise is mind blowing. I’m sure Arsenal perform at the same level or higher than the athletes he tests.

    My son has attended seminars and conferences and works with professors who advise top organisations and football clubs and it has been widely known that there were some flaws in Arsenal’s methodology that have now been rectified.

  34. Rasp says:

    Incidentally, he’s running the London Marathon on Sunday to raise money for Leukaemia Care and expects to complete the course in less than 3 hours. There is a link to his Just Giving page half way up the right hand column on this page if anyone is feeling generous 😀

  35. mickydidit89 says:

    Thank you Rasp. Very interesting read and topic.

    ps If your son has a spare moment, I need help. A complete shambles could accurately describe my current state of fitness as I discovered while surfing today.

    Delighted to learn what an utter drip that pipsqueak Pep is. I can now add him to my hate list.

    Being overweight as well as shattered, I need food. Nose bag on right this minute.

  36. chas says:

    Cheers, Rasp.

    I’d guess that the answer to the question you pose is

    ‘yes’ if we have lots of injuries and don’t win the League next year


    ‘no’ if we escape relatively unscathed and have a proper chance of demonstrating our superiority. 🙂

  37. mickydidit89 says:

    I should add that you missed a golden opportunity to heap praise on…..ME
    Thing is, after one particular stinker of a game earlier in the season, I demanded that not only Ollie be sent to Hartlepool, but also our fitness guru.
    Well, the turnaround in their attitudes and form has been little short of stunning.
    So well done me.

  38. Rasp says:

    Absolutely Micky, you are the sole reason we’ve turned things around 🙂

  39. Big Raddy says:

    Typical. Young Didit shows once again he is from the Me Generation.

    Rasp. Impact injuries are luck. It was pure bad luck that OG broke his leg. If he had been fitter, better trained etc it would have made no difference.

    Soft tissue injuries are preventable which is why Guardiola was so upset.

    BTW the reason I go to Sweden to watch Malmo is because their fitness coach is a good friend of mine. He was fitness assistant with S’ton earlier in his career.

  40. chas says:

    Well done, Micky.
    See, I told you booing works.

  41. chas says:

  42. chas says:

  43. chas says:

  44. chas says:

    Morning, BR.
    We’re only over-achieving because those in 3rd and 4th are shite this season. 🙂

  45. Morning all

    Need a post for today, has anyone got any ideas?

  46. mickydidit89 says:

    Morning all
    Wow, Bayern, what a turnaround.

  47. mickydidit89 says:

    We massively under achieved in Europe. Seethe. Grrrr 🙂

  48. Big Raddy says:

    Micky . That we did.Today we could have been sunning ourselves in the coffee bars of Turin

    chas. 7.15 😀

  49. Big Raddy says:

    Wrong. They are in Monaco tonight – where I shall be in a little over two weeks time 🙂

    Is 7.26 Lauren?

  50. Big Raddy says:

    7.14 Dennis Irwin?

  51. mickydidit89 says:

    Oh Raddy, what a depressing thought.

    Thing is, if Arsene really believes we have good enough forwards to go to the next level, we will miss out on a holiday again next season.

    Hopefully, we won’t be seeded and get someone really tasty in the group stages.

  52. mickydidit89 says:

    Actually, this could get depressing. How about some low level smut

  53. mickydidit89 says:

    Ha ha
    I thought 7:14 was just a scouser by a dustbin

  54. chas says:

    Someone on twitter was doing a Wikipedia player profile photos thing.

    7.14 is Dennis Irwin
    7.26 is an angry looking Dalian Atkinson

  55. chas says:

    Turin’s a shithole, ain’t it?

  56. mickydidit89 says:

    That was a shocker Chas 🙂

  57. Big Raddy says:

    I really enjoyed it

  58. mickydidit89 says:

    Things not going well on the domestic front, Raddy? 🙂

  59. ‘morning all,

    I see a court in the good old US of A has decreed that chimpanzes be given human rights. Whatever next? The same for women? 😀

  60. Rasp says:

    Morning all, no offers, no post today 😕

  61. kelsey says:

    Short-term lender Wonga made a pre-tax loss of £37.3m in 2014 amid a major overhaul of the controversial company.

    The lender, which made a pre-tax profit of £39.7m in 2013, witnessed a hefty drop in lending to UK consumers.

    Wonga admitted it needed to address “the problems of the past” and is predicting another loss in 2015.

  62. mickydidit89 says:

    Ha ha ha Crystals

    As Jesus sayeth unto the money lenders “you get what you deserve you low life little shits, and now fuck off the lot of you”

    ps I failed Scripture

  63. mickydidit89 says:

    Apparently Arsene tried to sign Suarez
    Then he did sign Sanchez
    Arsene said Sanchez would move central once Theo was fit

  64. RC78 says:

    Quick note:
    – Barcelona gave a massive spanking to my home team yesterday. It was clear that PSG was not in the same league as Barcelona at all levels: technically, physically, tactically and experience wise…We still have a lot to do before becoming contenders. We are firmly in the Top 8-10 in Europe but there is a gap between:

    Barcelona, Bayern, Real Madrid and
    – narrow gap with teams like Chelsea and Atletico Madrid
    – larger gap with teams like Juventus, Man Utd, PSG, Arsenal, Dortmund, Monaco, Sevilla, Zenith, Valencia, Napoli and maybe Roma, Leverkusen, Man City and Liverpool

    From a PSG perspective, it was clear that the following must happen:

    – David Luiz must play in the middle
    – Van der Wiel, Digne, Cabaye, Lavezzi and Cavani must be sold since they still have a good value on the market
    – Some recruitment is abosultely needed if we are to compete with the big guns…Players that can make a different and that have both the technical and physical impact needed for domestic and interntional jouts…

    – I would trade Cabaye for Pogba, M. Sissoko or M. Schnederlin for example
    – Depay, Pedro even Sterling for Lavezzi
    – Reuss, Hulk or Aguero for Cavani

    What was amazing was the difference in terms of intensity between both team…Barça was comfortable and looked like they could hit another gear easily while we were struggling after 15 mins…

  65. mickydidit89 says:

    Do we speak about RA’s comment/post or hide for a bit?

    Really hope it’s a Bayern Barca Final. That would be epic.

    Pop back in a while

  66. Rasp says:

    Thanks Redders, much appreciated. I have taken your comment off and would prefer to use your post tomorrow if that’s OK with you since today is half over 🙂

  67. chas says:

    Short post sent to Nuts.
    Please use today as time dependent.

  68. RA says:

    That’s fine, Rasper, sorry I was not in earlier.

  69. RA says:


    I spent some time watching both games last night and really they were all over very early on.

    It is odd that two such powerful teams as Bayern and Barca were so poor in the first leg but so terrific in the second leg.

    Just like Arsenal v Monaco in fact.

    Everyone who got on Wenger’s back because of the first leg against Monaco conveniently forgets that nothing is unique in football and errors occur with even the best teams and there is nothing the manager can do about it.

    We almost saved the tie against Monaco – but………..

  70. RA says:

    Hi Chas,

    Are we going to be treated to a tale of the plunge and groan of the clutch and grope variety? 🙂

    Norfolk and GoonerB will be thrilled

  71. chas says:

    Here’s a job for you…..

  72. chas says:


  73. chas says:

    and Groan?

  74. chas says:

    Was it Terry’s ex who looks like Jackie Pallo or was it Mick McManus?

  75. chas says:

  76. We have a New Post everyone …………………

  77. Rasp says:

    Thanks chas, I only just saw your comment. peaches and I have published at the same time – I’ve deleted hers 😆

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