Almost on the dot of a few minutes past 2pm every Saturday afternoon the football media sends and receives updates on the latest team sheets for the 3pm kick offs. Occasionally a reporter may accidentally-on-purpose doorstep the manager to ask for “a few words” if they hang around outside the dressing room for long enough. Although the reporter will usually be as welcome as a tooth ache we often get more than just a few words from the 30 second pre-match interview. “Any fresh injury concerns?” is a guaranteed ice-breaker in this situation with the answer being as familiar as the question itself. My casual observations indicate that managers always seem to have ‘fresh injury concerns’.
Some footballers have been referred to as ‘sick note’ by the footballing intelligentsia for the common absence through injury during their careers. Players can easily be singled out but perhaps what is less well observed is how teams suffer season after with repeated ‘fresh injury doubts’.
Since the start of the 2004/2005 season – a period covering the last decade - Wenger has been the worst affected regarding players having to sit out games. The Gunners have totalled close to 750 injuries during this time, nearly 15% more than Manchester United.
During the 2013-14 season Arsenal lost a combined 1,716 player days to injuries. Chelsea had less than a third of this figure at 554 player days.
Data source: Physioroom & Opta