Sad stories – How many Arsenal players have had their careers ruined by injury before Kieran Tierney?

Kieran Tierney’s Euro 2024 is over after he left the pitch Wednesday night on a stretcher needing gas and air to support him.

While we await confirmation on how serious his injury is, he won’t be kicking another ball in the tournament.

While Arsenal will never publicly admit this, they will only care about how this latest setback impacts on the left back’s value. If he’s on the sidelines long term it will force the player to remain a Gunner longer then employer and employee intended. The more issues the defender has it equally becomes difficult to find a club willing to invest a transfer fee and wages on a talent who isn’t reliable.

When fit the 27-year-old remains our best left back in the art of defending. The key word is when.

Although unlucky how his foot got planted on the field, events in Germany will confirm why Mikel Arteta doesn’t consider the Scot in his long-term plans. He can’t be trusted to remain healthy and that’s been the case heading back to his Celtic days.

He’s not the only one ….

Sadly, in putting together this list there are so many names I could have included.

I decided the criteria will be who’s injury seriously impacted on their career?

Matthew Upson – 1997-2003

 Not just unlucky in terms of an anterior cruciate ligament injury followed by a broken leg, the timing was horrible on the defender.

Having used loan moves to prove his fitness the centre back played 22 times in our 2002 Double Winning season. This put Upson in pole position to fill the upcoming vacancy left by Tony Adam’s impending retirement. The leg break ended that dream with the 23 year-old never playing in the League for us again.

Proved at Birmingham and West Ham he could have offered something to us.

Lauren – 2000-2007

The most successful African ever to be a Gunner, Lauren was out for a year in 2006 with a knee issue.

He and the club were able to downplay the issue enough to convince Portsmouth to invest in the right back when in reality he had no business being on the pitch anymore.

Van Bronckhorst – 2001-2004

 Despite lifting the Premier League and 2 FA Cups in North London it’s clear the Dutchman never quite felt part of the furniture at Highbury, having suffered cruciate ligament damage in his debut season in England.

The one positive is it forced him to change position which rejuvenated his career. By the time he regained fitness there was no room in midfield, so Mr Wenger asked him to fill in at left back.

This would be his role for the rest of his career, eventually winning the Champions League ironically against Arsenal.

 Van Persie 2004-2012

 One of the reasons many Gooners were so hurt by Van Persie’s exit to Old Trafford was, while appreciating his goals almost single handedly keeping us in the top 4 in 2011- 2012, that felt like his only season as a Gunner where he stayed fit for a whole campaign.

For the majority of his 8 years in North London the striker always seemed to have long spells on the sidelines.

Mr Wenger showed patience that other managers wouldn’t have shown to give the Dutchman the stage to prove his ability.

 Theo Walcott 2006-2018

 Often accused as being ‘too nice’ for the sport, Theo Walcott doesn’t get enough credit for the mental strength he kept showing.

It felt like in his 12 years as a Gunner he never had a settled season. Every time he got on a roll there would be a setback.

As a teenager he required shoulder surgery, and his most serious injury was tearing a cruciate ligament which meant he missed an FA Cup Final and a World Cup.

Each time he showed resilience to bounce back but couldn’t be relied on to be the central striker he wanted to be.

Too many muscle strains meant that by his late twenties he had lost his biggest weapon …. his pace.

Abou Diaby

Statistically one of most injured players in the history of the division, missing 314 games with 21 different injuries.

Sadly, he’s become more famous for that then for anything he did on the pitch.

Predicted at the time and since as the ‘next Patrick Viera’ Arsene Wenger gave him every opportunity to prove the midfielder could stay healthy, but in reality, his body never recovered from when his ankle was fractured at Sunderland.

He would require numerous operations over the years to try and fix it.

In loyalty he wouldn’t find elsewhere, Diaby was even given a contract extension when he had been unavailable for over 300 days.

That’s how much his manager recognised his talent if he could stay fit.

In his last two seasons at the Emirates the Frenchman played in the Prem…..once

 Rosicky 2006- 2016

 The midfielder didn’t play enough in his decade in England to be considered a great but in many ways that’s exactly why he’s a cult hero.

Gooners and his peers recognised when he was on the pitch what a talent he was. The key word though being when.

Beginning with in 2008 with torn tendons in his knees which was career threatening, the Czech would miss in total 990 days of action.

There were still moments that will last forever such as two goals in North London Derbies and lifting two FA Cups.

If he had stayed fit would have been one of our best players but sadly his final 12 months in North London summed up his entire spell, he didn’t play a minute in the League. The second season that had happened to him.

He was essentially being paid to sit at home for a year.

Eduardo 2007-2010

 Sadly, there was a period where too many of our players were victims of leg breaking tackles.

Arsenal were 5 points clear at the top of the table when they went to Birmingham in February 2008 with Eduardo in red hot form.

It’s often been cited that a young dressing room didn’t have the mentality to recover from the striker having his fibula broken and ankle dislocated. An injury so sickening it’s never been shown on TV.

While other Gunners recovered from leg breaks to play for years, Mr Wenger clearly felt his forward had lost his powers when he returned a year later.

 Thomas Vermaelen 2009-2014

Started his Arsenal career on fire. A goal scoring defender with obvious leadership qualities, he was the natural choice for captain when Van Persie left.

Yet in what became a worrying occurrence, Mr Wenger wasn’t transparent when the Belgian was injured (either unwilling or on purpose).

First, we were told our skipper was out for a few weeks, then the season, then he required surgery on an Achilles problem.

He missed 267 games meaning when it was confirmed we had accepted an offer from Barcelona, it seemed a good deal for all parties.

He would play 34 times in La Liga in 4 seasons.

 Oxlade Chamberlain 2011-2017

 It’s never been explained why so many of our British youngsters at this time had so many injury issues, but the Ox is another player who never seemed to have a season free from niggles.

It’s why many Gooners were happy to take 35 million for a talent with only 12 months left on his deal. While the man himself expressed wanting more opportunities to prove he could play as a CM, he was never fit enough to prove that at the Emirates or Anfield. He missed 180 games.

There’s a reason why at the age of 30 he’s now playing in Turkey.

Cazorla 2012-2018

You could make a movie regarding Cazorla’s story both in terms of his injury in 2016 and his recovery.

At the age of 32, at the peak of his powers the Spaniard suffered an injury which was assumed would keep him out for a few weeks.

Little did we know that night he went off in the Champions League that we would never see him play for Arsenal again!

He would require 8 operations on his ankle and nearly lost his leg when he contracted gangrene.

Having been told by more than one doctor he was in danger of never walking again, an eventual return to Villarreal and being capped again by Spain is one of football’s great stories.

 Jack Wilshere 2008-2018

One of the saddest names on this list as Super Jack was playing against the likes of Xavi and Iniesta in a manner which suggested he would be a future captain for club and country.

Having missed 214 games, he’s in the Premier League’s top 4 for most injured player.

He spent the final years trying to prove his fitness but mentally it took him a while to accept what the rest had accepted.

His mind was still willing, but his body was not.

Aaron Ramsey 2008-2019

 When we sold Fabregas and Nasri in the same window (which we were promised would never happen) clearly the plan was for Wilshere and Ramsey to be our future midfield.

Yet neither would have a season where they didn’t have a spell on the sidelines.

Rambo did well to recover from a broken leg at Stoke in 2010 but would always have some kind of muscle issues.

While Mr Wenger promised the Welshman a contract extension in 2018 that changed when Unai Emery arrived. The club decided that the player’s injury record made it hard to justify the pay rise. To be fair they have been proven correct since.

Yet 2 winners in the 3 FA Cup Finals he lifted and taking his country to 2 Euros and a World Cup are moments that will live forever.

 Koscielny 2010-2019

A solid defender who spent nearly 10 years at the club, it’s a shame his time at the Emirates ended the way it did.

An Achilles injury in 2018 (which cost him a place at the World Cup) meant that when he returned his training and game time had to be managed. His body could no longer cope with playing every few days.

Hence why Arsene Wenger had promised he could return to France if a club met a certain valuation.

With a new regime unaware of that agreement the centre back felt betrayed when he felt Arsenal were trying to price him out of returning to his homeland.

 Bellerin 2013- 2022

Is it me or did Bellerin not get as much sympathy as other Gunners unlucky with injuries?

For someone who moved to North London as a 16-year-old and grew into a man at Arsenal, winning 3 FA Cups, you would think there would have been more fanfare when he left after 9 years.

Instead, he had his contract ripped up and he was mocked by some Gooners for being vegan and being an advocate for looking after the environment.

His crime?

Serious knee injuries that by the age of 29 has robbed him of his pace.

 Welbeck 2014-2019

 Sadly, will mostly be remembered for being injury prone instead of his undoubted talent.

Issues have been so serious he’s done well at 33 to still be playing at the highest level.

A knee issue plagued him for nearly two years at the Emirates and once finally recovered broke his ankle in his final year of his deal making an extension already unlikely, impossible.

 Elneny 2016 -2024

 Now officially a free agent ends Elneny’s run as our longest serving player.

In reality though the Egyptian’s days of being in Arsenal’s first team have been numbered for a while now.

As early as 2019 he was being loaned to Turkey for a year.

Given how many players Arteta has paid to have their contracts ripped up, it seemed bizarre to extend the 31 year olds deal while he was out long term with an ACL injury.

What’s the point of releasing talent to reduce the wage bill just to pay someone to play three League games?

That’s 8 Prem matches in two seasons!

 Smith Rowe 2018 – Current

We know that Arteta originally trusted Smith Rowe to start every week.

Yet since surgery to sort a long-standing groin problem the 23 year old wasn’t trusted in last year’s title race and is no longer even our first attacking option off our bench.

There can only be one theory.

Our manager sees the player every day in training and clearly feels since the procedure Smith Rowe has lost his powers.

If that’s the case though why not sell him?

Thomas Partey – 2020-Current

 When Partey is fit he can be a crucial player for Arsenal. The key word is when.

He’s in danger of his legacy at the Emirates being always injury prone rather then what he’s done on the pitch.

It’s why some Gooners are content with him being sold this summer and others would be against his deal being extended.

The assumption is that at some point next season the 31-year-old will again spend a period on the treatment table.

In 4 seasons the midfielder has only played more than 24 league fixtures once

Tierney 2019 – current

Another example of how once Mikel Arteta thinks you don’t fit into his ethos he will. Wash his hands of you.

Our manager used to trust Tierney especially in a back 5 where the defender will start in the middle and time when to wander out to the left.

The 27 year-old’s time in England has been dogged by shoulder and knees injuries which eventually required surgery.

The irony being in the season he was mostly healthy Zinchenko was picked ahead of him as a hybrid full back while Tomiyasu was a preference when seeing out a lead.

A loan to Real Sociedad was set up purely to get him off the wage bill.


This period just covers how long I’ve supported Arsenal, so any older Gooners feel free to add names onto the comments.



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  1. there is difference between broken legs/ACL and the niggly not clear what the problem is injuries

    example: Eduardo and Partey are not the same

    also the premise Tierney on the outside due to injury, no, that is not the case, even Tierney himself accepts he has no been able to adapt to Arteta system, the injuries are more latter to get in the way of a move away

    in the last two seasons Arsenal have actually been quite fortunate on injuries, i am sure that is lighting a JA fuse – every team has injuries, Arsenal in the last two years have actually been better than most, probably for the first time i can remember we had a full squad available injury free at times, or just Timber long term ACL, in seasons gone by never remember that

    last season we had the mysterious back injury to Saliba that kept him out until the end of the season, every week expected back but never did – massive impact on our run in

    this season our best XI available nearly every week – imagine how different if Odegaard, Gabriel and Saka were out for 2 months – we would have been no where near

    the importance of injury free players though can’t be understated, not talikng about broken legs/ACL which is no ones fault, but those that play week in week out apparently immune from the knocks that keep ‘made of glass’ Tomy, Partey, Zinc, Jesus, Martinelli et al out too frequently vs Odegaard, Saka, White, Rice, Havertz, Saliba who seem to be immune, and they are players who put themselves about too!

    rightly part of Edu recruitment profile

    1. Jesus!

      Do you have to turn every article into Edu/Arteta praisefest?

      Just for your information Partey and Timber were never injured at their former clubs.

  2. Partey
    Smith Rowe
    in the last two seasons Arsenal have actually been quite fortunate on injuries?

  3. We were robbed of Diaby, Eduardo and Ramsey talents by thugs challenges. Even though Ramsey recovered he became injury prone.

  4. I thought Eduardo could have been one of the top strikers in Europe. Solid all round but brilliant box instincts and finishing skills, plus his record suggests he barely missed any games until that injury. Probably the one that stuck with me the most – had that injury not happened, we’d very likely have won the league (against a ridiculous utd squad tbf) and may have avoided the mass talent exodus that followed. Might have been the turning point for Wenger as well – we were never serious challengers after ’08 but had he won that title, he might’ve kept more talent or had a greater ability to attract better replacements. Who knows.

    1. Agreed.. he was just finding form and on the the way to become the deadliest cf in that time. He was a very unique player and could have been one of Wenger’s best signing. That injury really done him bad. One of my favorite striker.. same goes with Abou Diaby. He would have definitely to be one of the best midfielder in epl if not for all those injuries.

      1. He and Adebayor were playing really well together and the whole team was clicking too. They were so dominant in the league and everything got disrupted after that injury. Van Persie was not available too. A really sad year.

  5. I guess that’s why Eduardo got such a fantastic welcome when he returned to the Emirates, with, it seemed, every Arsenal fan cheering when he scored against us.

    People seem to forget what he and Diaby brought to the club and, as Davi says, we could have added another title if they had stayed fit.

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