Before Marten Skrtel was allowed free rein in the Arsenal penalty box to snatch an injury time leveller and deny the Gunners a famous and vital away win at Anfield, there may still have been a few Gooners who were hanging on to the hope that this could be the season when Arsenal win the Premier League title again.
Those same optimistic fans are probably hoping for a Ferrari and an ocean going yacht for christmas as well and they have more chance of getting those from Santa than they do of seeing Arsenal crowned as EPL champions in May. There are lots of theories and debates about what has gone wrong for us this season, when we were supposed to build on the promise of last year and with Alexis Sanchez hitting the ground running like Usain Bolt.
Inevitably the manager will take a massive portion of the blame, but there is a report in The Telegraph today that gives us a stark and worrying explanation of how our squad has been devastated by injury problems. The article is well worth a read and explores the difference between types of injury and how there are different ideas about the reasons for our problems.
It does not seem like the so-called over playing of players is all that significant and it seems that we suffer more impact injuries and are fouled and tackled more than other teams, perhaps because of Wenger’s style of play or perhaps because of the perception that we don’t like the rough stuff and it puts us off our game.
Anyway, it won’t surprise you to hear that Arsenal have lost a lot more player days to injury since 2004 than any of our rivals and that we have lost more injury days this season than any other club in the division, a massive 874 already. Compare that to Chelsea with just 256.
And the report shows how important this is, with only three of the last titles being won by clubs having had more than 27 injuries in a whole season. Arsenal are on 25 already so even if we have an almost injury free second half of the campaign, Arsenal are going to be well over that figure and the stats show that this makes it almost impossible to win the Premier League.
One more little pointer as to the significance of injury on a title challenge is the fact that out invincibles capmpaign of 2003-04 was also the year we had the fewest injury problems. So let’s hope that all the work being done behind the scenes to solve the problem and a change of luck like we had in the Champions League draw can help the Gunners to finish this season strongly and have a real go next time.