Analysis – Was Arsene Wenger right to stick by Arsenal’s long term injuries?


We have recently been told that one of the many faults during the last fifteen years of our club’s history, has been standing by players who had been injured while playing for our club and how much money the club has lost because of this…let’s delve a little deeper on both claims.

Names such as Diaby, Cazorla, Ramsey, Wilshere and Eduardo have been cited as examples of this and, of course, to add insult to injury for some, they happened under the reign of Arsene Wenger.

First of all, I want to look at each player and what he brought to The Arsenal when he was fit:

Diaby – there is no doubt whatsoever, that this was the perfect replacement for Patrick Vieira in every way. His style of play, his skill levels and commitment to our club was on par with Patrick.
Current status – Now retired, due to consistent injury problems.

Cazorla – one of the most skilful and committed players I have ever had the privilege to see in an Arsenal shirt. He was absolute class and we never even got to say goodbye to him!!!
Current status – Still playing for Villarreal.

Wilshere – he started at an early age and was another wonderful player, who was never afraid to “get stuck in”, as well as producing great close contact skills and beautifully weighted passes that would split defences in an instant.
Current status – Still playing for WHU, but suffering again from injuries.

Eduardo – a proper centre forward, who had really started to grow into the role of leading our attack and some of his goals were breathtaking. He was brutally tackled in an unexcusable act of violence by a thug who was masquerading as a footballer. He was loved by the crowd and when he returned to play against us, his name was chanted loud and clear in recognition of his service to the club.
Current status – Still playing for Shakhtar Donetsk.

Ramsey – it was Pulis and his thug-like way of playing football that robbed us of this man’s talents for well over a year and some say he was never the same player again – I disagree with that view completely, Aaron was a £45 million (+ or – according to one’s views) player.
Current status – Still playing for Juventus.

That brings me nicely on to what it would have cost to replace these players like for like and why it was in the club’s best interest to try and resolve their injury problems.

I believe the club would be looking at well over £200 million to replace them and, under Kroenke, that would never had happened, as we all well know!!!

I have used players who we eventually signed to replace them as a reported sterling guideline for comparison:
Ramsey = £45 million (re. Transfermarket valuation before coronavirus)
Cazorla £42.5 million (re. Ozil’s reported cost)
Eduardo £46.5 million (re. Lacazette’s reported cost)
Diaby £35 million (re. Xhaka’s reported cost)
Wilshere £35 million (re. the reported Ox transfer paid by Liverpool)
Total guideline comparison equals £204 million.

As of this season, all the above, bar Diaby, are still playing football and, before anyone compares where they are plying their trade today, remember where we stand at present and would they all not improve the squad we have today????

Perhaps the only one would be Wilshere, simply because he is still being plagued with his injury problems, but let’s compare with what we have today:

Cazorla versus Guendouzi?
Wilshere versus Willock?
Diaby versus Torreira?
Eduardo versus Lacazette?
Ramsey versus Mkhitaryan?

So, in my opinion, it made perfect sense to try and get every one of these long term injuries back to playing for our club – not only because of the cost it would have taken to replace them, but also because of the talent they had all proven to have had, before the injuries took place.

Now, the main reason I decided to write this, was a headline that caught my attention and an article concerning three Villarreal players – Santi Cazorla, Bruno Soriano and Sergio Asenjo.

As we are all aware, Santi was injured for over 636 days while with us and told he would be lucky if he was ever able to walk again. In his total career to date, he has missed 899 days through injury, from the 08/09 to the 19/20 season.

Both The Arsenal and Villarreal kept faith in him and just as he was on the cusp of returning to full fitness, the new Arsenal regime decided to let him go for nothing, as his contract had finished. He returned to Villarreal and has been a consistent and important player ever since, also playing in the CL and hoped to play in the local derby against Valencia on Sunday the 28th June.

Bruno Soriano – out injured for three years and one month, from May 2017, before returning to the Villarreal team. A total of 1227 days from the 12/13 to the 17/18 season was lost through injuries. Three times during that period, he was ready to return to action, only for the injury to return. Finally, he pulled on the famous yellow shirt yet again and he is hoping to play on the 28th.

Sergio Asenjo – four different injuries saw him lose 1034 days in his career from the 08/09 season until the 17/18 season. He has formed an obviously real and lasting friendship with the two above and they refer to their injury experiences as “To hell and back.” He also hopes to play on the 28th.

Just to confirm,all three players are fit and in contention to play in the local derby against Valencia on the 28th June.

Villarreal have shown, with these three players, the kind of faith that AW had in the five Arsenal players mentioned above and how the La Liga club have reaped the rewards.

Of course it’s a gamble when a player has such awful injuries as the seven highlighted above have had, but no-one has the ability of hindsight regarding the length of lay-off and/or the extent and final outcome of said lay-off.

Villarreal has shown how it is impossible to know what will happen, with this fantastic story of three players who overcame horrendous injuries and played professional football at a high level once again.

If some of our fans want to treat our players simply as commodities, then that is their right, but I prefer to think that keeping faith with great players who were injured while playing for our club, reap the benefits in the long run, even if it’s not on the field of play – five players who tell the world just what a great club The Arsenal is to sign for, and three Villarreal players who prove patience is a virtue and, likewise, a great club who looks after and respects its players.

As for the claim that our injured players cost the club money, the PFA representative Simon Barker (also ex Blackburn and QPR player) said that all its members are entitled to eighteen months full pay, from the PFA (after which it is reviewed by them, the club and the player), if the injury was sustained while playing for the club. If they are injured outside of the game the PFA cover them for twelve months.

Thank you Phil 25/8/2018 at for this information…I didn’t know this as I thought clubs had their own insurance policies to cover the time that players are out injured, defined by who they are and what they earn and cost the club, but I couldn’t verify this. I never believed or thought that a professional club didn’t have an insurance policy covering injuries of course, even local Saturday/Sunday league players were urged to have their own policies, way back in the last century!!!

Once again, a different view on a subject, a positive one that has faith in the club, it’s treatment of our players and the hope that a final outcome sees wonderfully gifted players return to a playing career that could have ended through no fault of their own.

Some you win, some you lose, but (for me) this is “The Arsenal Way” and long may it last.



  1. Good one! I believe in sticking with good players who suffers long term or consistent injuries. Some would one day hit the ground and reach their potentials, others may not. Either way, it’s good to keep the faith.

  2. Very good article. Related to leadership, people commitment and team motivation – not only relevant to a football team. If you want people to fight for you, you should fight for them first.

    BTW, please include Van Persie and Kos in your list.

  3. Thanks for the information, it’s a well written and we’ll research article. Am sure you spent a lot of time and resources on this as I can see the date proposed for publication should have been Saturday (before Villarreal game).
    Now on the article, myself and other fans allover the word thinks arsenal FC isn’t ruthless enough, especially with injury prone player, at the time however, my major annoyance was on the physio and medical teams and up till date I still feel our medical teams are lagging behind, for Villarreal to take such huge gamble shows they have special medics that are giving the confidence to the management which arsenal totally lack, our players never leave the injury list earlier than scheduled, except in recent years, and we loose too many players to injury, hardly do we have 2players to play all 38matches in a season during wenger last 10yrs, those injuries are more reason our competitors fair better, they have at least 5regular players that plays over 30epl games, such stability is what win you a league.
    How do you feel Liverpool will fair with d likes of sallah, van dyke, playing max 25epl games like our players.
    I dont know the source of the problems but it’s part of the issues UE face too and now MA, 8 players already in less than 3wks, it’s frustrating

  4. Ken, Due to my time being very limited right now, I will write a full post later today rebutting much of what you write, as I disagree with the principle behind your arguments basis theme. I will soon fully outline exactly what I think on all your points but must go now. Sorry!

    1. I agree complete with you Jon. Not being disrespectful to Ken but this logic is completely flawed in my opinion.

  5. Luckily la liga never had player such as robbie savage, roy keane, lee catermole, mark noble, duncan fergusen, joe barton, ben thatcher etc

    Except for pepe and ramos


    Well the title is very misleading as only a player himself decides when his career is over, not a club.
    In regards to whether Wenger was right to stick with injury-prone players, well it was an absolute disaster, as history as shown us. It’s not even up for debate!

    1. Well actually, it is up for debate, that’s why I wrote the article.

      As an update to the three players I mentioned, after checking the team sheet, both Cazorla and Asenjo played yesterday in their win against Valencia.

      Adajim, I understand your frustrations.

      arie82, your point is particularly important when assessing how Wilshere was injured so many times and in the same manner.
      No protection from the referees and too skillful for his opponents to handle.

      1. The only reason I said it wasn’t up for debate, is because we’ve already been given the answer. There’s no possible way to spin years, and millions wasted on players Wenger knew were crocked, into a positive.

        It’s such a shame some of our best players keep getting long term injuries. Santi one hurt the most, although I loved Rosicky as well.

        1. Well said. I mean, great info gathered for the article, but we keep losing sight of our actual goal which is silverware & trophies. How many times have we passed on other players because we were nursing long term injured players back to full health? Wilshere was a promise that failed to deliver over and over and over again. Same with Diaby, and several others mentioned there. That leads to never having a squad that is actually prepared for a title challenge, because it relies on players coming back from their injuries and not getting injured again. Good amount of these players were here during our 9yr trophy drought, and its great that AW got us in top 4 consistently, but this is also when we were also falling behind our rivals (due to many other factors of course). But look at where we are now and it wouldve been smarter to let go of a lot of these players much sooner no matter how much we liked some of them.

        2. TMJW, please explain the “millions wasted” when the players salaries were covered by the PFA and/or the clubs insurance?
          Arsene Wenger didn’t waste a penny of our club’s money and that is where your argument is flawed, simply because you want to make it a AW issue… as the PFA representative clearly pointed out, they pay injured players salaries, whether as a result of sustaining said injury inside or outside of the game.

          1. Very easy to answer Ken. Millions wasted in not selling these players when we had a chance, even if it was a small window. So no, my argument is not flawed in the slightest. Like I already said, you cannot spin this one!

          2. Why do you insist I keep spinning something, when I ask you a question!

            Here’s another one to follow up your answer – how on earth do you think we could have sold any of these players when they were suffering from long term injuries that, according to you, was costing the club millions?
            Unless you think we should have sold the likes of Santi when he was fit and healthy?

            By the way, what was your answer to the PFA saying that all their players were covered by their union?

          3. Furthermore TMJW, you’ve turned the discussion completely on it’s head, by saying we should have sold them – so it was nothing to do with them being injured then?
            Now who’s trying to spin?

          4. Again Ken, very easy to answer. Doesn’t matter how bad or injured a player is, if they’ve got half a name, or from a big club, there will always be one club somewhere that would sign them. No Ken, it is you that always try and spin Wenger related stuff.

          5. Yet you go on and on about us signing players who are injured and expect other clubs to do what you condemn our club for doing?!?!
            Still waiting, S usual, for a reply to the simple question about the PFA – any chance you can explain that one away?

  7. I just feel that the players stayed too long after showing how injury prone they were.
    Ramsey always gets injured, usually a hamstring injury or something else where he misses multiple weeks every year.
    JW has fragile ankles and missed multiple weeks every year too. In hindsight it was a mistake to keep them for years kbowing they always get injured.
    Santi was and is a class player; I wouldn’t put JW or Ramsey in the same category. We are worse off without Santi obviously, but can’t same we are worse off without Jack or Ramsey.
    Lastly, I would just mention all the players we missed out on that we read about. Is there a correlation there? How many did we pass on by keeping the injured players? We’ll never know and we can debate it forever. Perhaps we never saw anymore titles or CL finals IN PART due to persisting with average injury prone players.
    Wenger was a good man for his loyalty to the players, but perhaps it affected him as a manger by not knowing when to cut bait and let them go for the benefit of the club

    1. Good point regarding the players we might have missed out on Durand, that is an unknown consequence perhaps.
      However, my main point is that no one can tell how long any serious injury will take, as each individual reacts differently… and that’s why the article regarding the Villarreal players caught my attention.
      We could have had Cazorla for another two seasons with just a little more patience and, so far, no one has commented on the “waste of money” angle – that should also be taken into consideration.
      Hope you are safe and well Durand.

      1. Excellent article Ken, and I like everyone discussing the possibilities. A very true point about not knowing that Ramsey and Jack would prove to be so injury prone.
        I would just say that after 2 or 3 years of constant injuries they suffered, no need to keep them on for more years thinking things would change.
        Wenger clearly saw something in those two, but it never materialized due to their constant injuries. A manager has to know when to move on for the benefit of the club, and hindsight shows keeping them was a mistake.
        However, AT THAT TIME Wenger earned the benefit of the doubt by his success, and I imagine Kronke was happy to extend their contracts rather than open his wallet to replace them.
        For me the real shame was Diaby and what could have been. I’ve never been a fan of Jack or Ramsey, thought them both very overrated, and unable to deliver compared to the midfielders Wenger had before them.
        Well written Ken, I’m sure you knew you would stir up quite the debate bringing up Jack and Aaron and anything Wenger!

  8. Ken, it’s not often I disagree with you so let me explain why:

    Eduardo: Never a prolific scorer for any club he played for. In 41 EPL appearances for us he scored 6 goals. I don’t think he would enhance our current squad. By the way, he left Shakhtar in 2017 and currently plays for Legia Warsaw.

    Cazorla: A great player for us but I have my doubts whether he could withstand the rigours of our EPL.

    Diaby: Talented player when fit but too fragile for the EPL.

    Wilshere: A great prospect whose career was affected by many serious injuries. In my opinion he was on the wane when he left us to join the Hammers where he is still struggling. I think we were right to let him go.

    Ramsey: He would definitely enhance our current squad and should have had his contract extended by AW well before his final year, after which it became impossible to match what Juve offered him (reportedly more than we pay Ozil).

    My opinions Ken for what they are worth.

    1. Andrew, thanks for your I put, always appreciated.

      Can I ask you to compare again, Lacs and eduardo?
      I am really disappointed with llacs, but eduardo always seemed to give his best.
      Thanks for the update on his current club.

      I’d like to know your views on the main thrust of article.

      1. Hi Ken sorry I ran out of time earlier but now here goes with my views. Firstly congrats on a well researche d and easy to understnd article. RThough I disgre ithit smain thrust on na principle I still thought it a good article from your ppoint of view. My take is that I ahve always followed thr club and never EVER put thr welfare of anyb player , no matter how great of moderate above the needs of the club andteam.

        Consequently I disgree with your principle of keeping perenially injured players at the club for years in the hope that they may one day regain regular fitness. In my view that very rarely happens back to top level at their previous best, leaving us with damaged goods which cost wages for no return. That is a poor policy and has proven to be one of Wengers worst policy mistakes.
        Though like all Gooners I also love those who really earn their stripes in our team, I also call out those like Ozil, Walcott, and Mkh who are lazy and overall harm the team . I tell the truth about them and do not kid myself they are helping the club when all evidence of laziness and /or injury shows they are not. To me AFC is paramount and far more important in my life than the welfare of ANY player / manager/ coach /director/ owner.
        With that always in my mind, I totally dissent from your view of keeping proven injury types in vain hope they will become fit. Your own examples let your own argument down and I could add more names too but the principle, not the individual details, is where I want to rest my case.

        1. Ken, I should have also said that I agree on all the examples Andrew Elder uses in his own fine post above this one, though I will say that personally I wanted Ramsey sold for being an injury type well before his new contract saga became rife. The only one I truly regret leaving for injury isssues was Santi, BUT the decision to let him go, given his age and the toughness of a highly physical Prem, was still the correct one.
          I would always seek out physically more robust types( and taller CBs in general than we have of late) in ALL positions, purely because the Prem is so physically tough.

          1. Thanks for the reply Jon.

            I’m not sure if you picked up that two of the three Villerreal players I mentioned played a full game in their victory over Valencia?

            Did you not also read that all the salaries of our injured players were covered by the PFA?
            So it didn’t cost our club a penny, except if they were paying for the PFA membership as part of the individual contract negotiation.

            The only “risk” was the one that Durand and RSH pointed out, regarding the holding up of replacing the injured player…. but I reasoned that kronkie would NEVER have given the money to replace like for like, when there was a chance the injured player could return to full fitness.

      2. kEN in reply to your latr post about salaries and the PFA, are you actually saying that the union paisd all the salaries of our perenially injured players that you originally listed? If not that, then whatv exactly DID the pay for andwhat did they not pay. There is no way the PFA can possibly cover normalsalary payments to injured players and that must be obvious(pror to Covid, I mean). They are reportedly sitting on around£50 mill intotal but that would go nowhere IF used to pay injured players. Nor will all player be fully insured against long term injuries, as that would not be financaily viable from the insurers position, given the many regular injuries in football. So I don’t get your point on insurers/ union with injuries.

        1. Jon please look up my link for this information – angry of Islington. com – he explains in detail how a representative of THE PFA explained this to him.
          You also know, of corse, that professional clubs have to have insurance policies for their players.
          Going back to the last century, I ran a Sunday club that had to have insurance to cover players if they were injured during a game.

          I checked on the PFA story and that is why I brought the “cost to our club” into the article.

          Let me know your thoughts after reading the link and it’s verification – I’m sure you will evaluate your thoughts accordingly.

  9. Hi Ken, sorry it took so long to reply to you, I was on a 2 hour family video call.

    Comparing Eduardo to Laca is a a difficult one but on stats alone Laca is ahead. I am comparing the post injury Eduardo who became a rather tentative player and who would blame him after what he went through. Personally I would cite getting rid of Giroud in favour of Laca as a mistake but hindsight is a wonderful thing.

    I do understand the main thrust of your article which is extremely well thought out and presented. The difficulty in the modern game is the lack of sentimentality and patience when clubs are presented with decision making on the future of injury prone players. My niece, who is a doctor specialising in sports medicine (mainly football related) for over 20 years, said complete recovery from a serious injury is an exception rather than the rule such is the competitive nature of professional sport. Modern football managers (unlike AW) do not have the luxury of time so would make the decision to move injury prone players on and more often than not would probably be right to do so. I am simply considering the practicalities of it, not the rights or wrongs.

    1. Thanks Andrew, take your point on post injury regarding Eduardo.
      I love to discuss facts and what you say about your niece and her experience with sport injuries is very enlightening for me.
      Such information goes into the memory bank and, as they say, your never too old to learn something new!!
      Take care.

  10. Good and well researched article, good points and examples presented, kudos.
    But I disagree with what seems to be your conclusion which I thinks points out that it is better to keep faith with long injury and injury prone players. With your research and examples you can check the crop/caliber of players that made up “The Invincibles”, why were they winning the league and FA cups even winning double. How many of those players played less than 10 matches in two seasons, was AW having the problems of playing with more than five of his key regular players on injury list and recurring? The success we had wouldn’t have come. The moment a non football enthusiast in the name of Kronke fully stepped in and AW went into alliance with him and wrongly redefined Arsenal, ambition nose dived, trophy winning mentality/steam transited. Football supposedly is real business and not leisure like AW and Kronke have turned the club to. The club comes first for any serious Owner and Mgr. Profits will be higher if trophies are coming in. The moment the choice of pampering and keeping long injury and injury prone players over time because the book is still a bit balanced it heralded the era of lack of quality players, no league Laurel/ trophy, clubs image and ability to lure quality players keep diminishing all because of the preference of players welfare over that of club. Owners of clubs who loves and sees football as serious business don’t do that if they still want to be relevant, check it out. All the time you spent waiting on these crop of players to recover you should not forget that you are in a competition and their choice/stand clearly shows that you are not competing to win but just to participate. The same thing affected even AW that when he is supposed to have left he lingered and put the club in what looks like a partially terminal case that needs to be taken serious. Unfortunately the man Kronke that also pampered and over kept him does not understand and is not seeing the seriousness of Arsenal’s sickness to engage a seasoned Doctor – Mgr. and purchase the right prescription – players by the doctor. Perhaps it might interest you to know that these wrong decisions of Kronke and AW plus the disappointing performances of the many cameo players they keep engaging have sent some of their fragile passionate fans to their graves across the globe. They can’t help it and you may not know. That’s why in my area they will tell you if you are a Bp person don’t join Arsenal fan club, if you are before and later developed it better quit and may be join La liga and support either R.Madrid or Barcelona as you can’t see or fathom yourself supporting another premiere league club. So severing their contract and paying them off is not ditching them, they can move to another club which they all did, but I tell you Santi won’t have completed another season for us in the premiere league it is rigorous for his present state. JW, TW and Diaby over stayed and are they doing better where they went. Ramsey also left late and I am not missing him. The likes of Ozi, Xhaka and and Kolasinac should move out within the next 72 hours when this season winds up.

    1. Another good and thoughtful reply in regards to the points linked with my article.
      I’m not getting involved with people who are taking their own lives or whether kronkie and Wenger formed the alliance from hell, that is all supposition and hearsay.

      My opinion is that if Cazorla can still be found playing CL and La Liga football, then hus skill set and fitness would have allowed him to play in the Premier league.
      We simply let him go too early – especially after showing so much patience during his recovery.
      Why did we support him for so long ?
      Because we knew what a great player he was and how much it would cost to replace him, just as my other player like for like showed, perhaps with the exception of Jack Wilshere.

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