Did injuries cost Arsenal the title?
Arsenal were without first-team players for a combined 1,716 days during the past season, in contrast to Chelsea who lost just 556 days
Arsenal had the worst injury record of any Premier League club during the 2013-14 season, with Arsene Wenger having ordered a comprehensive review of the team’s medical and training procedures.
Research by the website physioroom.com has shown that Arsenal were without first-team players for a combined 1,716 days during this past season, almost 300 more than Tottenham who had the next worse injury record. By contrast, Chelsea were without key players for just 556 days this season, while champions Manchester City and runners-up Liverpool endured a similar injury toll of respectively 978 and 997 days lost.
Wenger has repeatedly blamed Arsenal’s injury toll for the club’s failure to sustain their Premier League title challenge following the loss for much of the second half of the season of Theo Walcott, Mesut Ozil, Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey.
Although statistics do support Wenger’s theory, the wider issue is how Arsenal have consistently struggled with injuries during recent seasons.
Physioroom.com has also conducted research for the 2010-11, 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons and, in each of those years, Arsenal were among the seven worst affected clubs. In 2010-11, they lost 1,478 days to injury, second behind only Tottenham on 1,486. In 2011-12, Arsenal’s tally was 1,343 (the 3rd worse) and in 2012-13, it was the seventh worse on 955 days. Over the four year period, the club who have lost players for the most days to injury is actually Newcastle United on 5,645, followed by Arsenal on 5,492 and Tottenham on 5,330.
Indeed, with club record signing Erik Lamela having not played since December, Totternham’s 2013 summer arrivals contributed to a combined loss of 500 days through injury during this past season.
The contrast with Chelsea and Manchester City, who have respectively lost only 2,164 and 2,895 days during the past four seasons, is particularly stark.
Wenger promised a review in March “to see if there is a link between all these injuries”. Asked whether he would review his training and medical procedures, Wenger said "everything" but admitted that, on first inspection, it had been difficult to find an obvious reason.
There are numerous theories, such as the training methods, a style of football that might invite dangerous tackles, an over-reliance on certain players because of the size of the squad, a transfer policy that might favour technically gifted but more fragile players or simply bad luck. The statistics since 2010, however, clearly suggest that Arsenal’s injury record is about more than simply ill fortune.
Tottenham Hotspur 1441
Aston Villa 1426
Newcastle United 1303
West Bromwich Albion 1161
Manchester United 1146
West Ham United 1094
Crystal Palace 1061
Hull City 1017
Norwich City 978
Manchester City 929
Swansea City 922
Cardiff City 609
Stoke City 555