The Premier League is now 3 games in so still early days, but what can we take from the injury league table at this stage of the season?
Who is suffering most? Do injuries result in failure? What are the most common injuries? Will the international break help or hinder teams? Who are the long term casualties?
These are some of the questions we attempt to answer in this post.
Who is suffering the most?
Even at this early stage of the season there are currently 89 players who are out of action, whether through injury or suspension. This has caused problems with some teams frantically scouring the transfer market in need of replacements to plug the gaps.
Just look at the defensive frailties of Arsenal in their first match against Liverpool with more holes in their defense than a colander. I don’t think you can portion blame on the centre backs as they simply lack experience and in one of the most competitive and fast paced leagues in the world, experience is everything at the back when you’re faced with some of the best attackers in the world.
Currently sat at the top of the injury league table with 9 injuries. Obviously Andy Carroll is one of those injured, but aside from this they have been dealt a blow with quite a few injuries in pre-season and most notably that of Andre Ayew who, after signing for £20.5 million, injured himself on his debut and will now be sidelined until the end of November…bad luck.
On the plus side 5 of their players are scheduled to be back in action this month, 4 of which should be in available to be in the squad for the first game back after the international break.
The team went into the last game with just 14 fit first team players, a headache for the caretaker manager Phelan, but this has not stopped them from taking 6 points and almost a draw against United until they conceded a stoppage time winner.
Unfortunately for Hull 3 of their casualties are long term with return dates not listed until January 2017, a major blow when they include some of the key players who helped them out of the Championship last season.
Third place is tied
Liverpool, Sunderland & Manchester City all have 7 injuries each.
Liverpool should have 5 of these players back in action before the end of the month whilst Joe Gomez and Oviemuno Ejaria still have no confirmed return date following Achilles tendonitis and a groin strain respectively.
Like last season, Sunderland are close to the top of the injury league table but close to the bottom of the Premier League table. After a successful back half of the season in 2015/16 things have gone downhill with Big Sam taking on the England role and the club being left to frantically seek reinforcements. Sebastian Larsson is a long term casualty and will be out of action with an MCL injury until February 2017 and Vito Mannone has an arm injury putting him out until December but everyone else is expected back by the end of September / start of October.
Manchester City have quite a large squad which allows them to cope with the odd injury as they currently sit at the top of the table. Of those injured 5 players are set to be back following the end of the international break whilst we are still awaiting news on Sergio Aguero following his injury last weekend.
Do injuries result in failure?
Yes and no.
It depends on a few things:
- The players who are injured (if it is your one and only goalscorer then perhaps more of a problem than your backup goalkeeper)
- The depth of your squad (teams like City have almost 2 world class players for every position so whilst an injury to a star player is not good news, the replacement is good enough to get in most Premier League starting elevens)
- The number of injuries (the odd one here and there is fine but if you get a bus load of injuries then even the best teams will find it hard to weather the storm)
Despite 6 injuries City are still leading the way at the top of the table but typically the bigger teams can cope with injuries better than the smaller teams because of squad size and depth so in answer to the question posed there is a caveat for the size of club.
So let’s get back to the teams where injuries could potentially be the difference between Premier League survival and a drop to the Championship.
Hull are second place in the injury league table but astonishingly they have done a great job following Steve Bruce’s resignation with Mike Phelan taking 6 points which is more than any pundit would have expected. They are playing great football and getting the job done, but without a larger squad they are 1 or 2 injuries away from having a major problem given there are 35 games left.
We might only be 3 games in but Stoke have clocked up 6 injuries and currently sitting at the bottom of the table with just 1 point. In looking at the list of those injured they are mainly pivotal players but the likes of Jack Butland, Glen Johnson and Xherdan Shaqiri will all be back in action this month. They only have 2 long term casualties with Stephen Ireland and Ibrahim Afellay out until early 2017.
David Moyes has already admitted that Sunderland will be in a relegation battle again this season and with 7 injuries to date in an already small squad it is no wonder why. Last season Big Sam worked miracles despite a high number of injuries but in the early days of the season it seems that a few of the key players being injured has proved too much and they sit in 16th.
We’ve looked at the teams with the highest number of injuries, but what about those with a small number of injuries? Bournemouth have just 2 players out of action but sit 2nd bottom with 1 point, just behind Watford who have the same number of injuries and points as the Cherries.
So perhaps we need to have a 4th point to the question of whether injuries result in failure:
- The quality of the players in the team to begin with (sometimes a fully fit squad is still not as good as a squad hit with injuries)
What are the most common injuries?
The same injuries surface time and time again.
Out of the 89 injuries listed, 23 of these relate to the knee, 17 to the thigh and 11 to the groin / hip / pelvis region.
Damage to one of the 4 ligaments in the joint is extremely common, with ACL injuries topping the table every month. This time there are 5 instances of ACL damage and almost half of the total number of injuries consisting of some form of ligament damage.
The extent of the damage will determine the length of time spent on the sidelines, from a couple of days with a grade one strain to an entire season and more with a grade 3 rupture. Your ligaments are designed to support you as you walk, run and jump and without them (especially the ACL) you’re pretty much no use on a football pitch. For a complete rupture a surgeon will need to replace the ligament by taking a graft from your groin or hamstring and then screw it into place so that, once you’ve recovered from the surgery, you can start working on strengthening the ligament and your knee before taking to the field once again.
Hamstring injuries are the main complaint here followed by quadriceps strains.
As with all muscle / ligament injuries they are graded 1 to 3 depending on severity so you’re looking at anything from a couple of weeks (Bacary Sagna – 10th September) to a few months (Andre Ayew – 27th November) out of action.
Hamstring strains are common in sports involving sprinting as you are relying on your hamstring to drive you forward, so it just takes a slip, an ill-timed sprint or just an over stretch and you could end up on the deck.
Groin / hip / pelvis injuries
There are currently 7 players out of action following groin strains, again a common compliant of runners. The other 4 are attributed to 3 cases of an Inguinal hernia and 1 hip injury but all players should be back in action by the end of month, though Baily Cargill, Oviemuno Ejaria and Fabio Borini are still being assessed.
Will the international break help or hinder teams?
Again, no obvious answer but in theory it will help.
We say in theory as it depends on the number of injuries their players may pick up on international duty, the biggest worry of all managers.
The next round of Premier League matches will take place on the 10th September so in looking at the injury list 34 of the 89 players currently out of action are set to return to action by this date.
Based on this the international break can be beneficial to many teams who have players sat in the treatment room, giving them an extra week to rest (along with non-injured non-international players) so that they have the best possible chance of fielding a full strength team on the next outing.
Who are the long term casualties?
A quick look at http://premierinjuries.com/ tells us that Jeremy Pied of Southampton is scheduled to be out of action until 1st June 2017 following an ACL injury, one of the most serious a player can sustain which can lead to further problems in the future like osteoarthritis of the knee.
Muhamed Besic of Everton is another player who is currently recovering following knee ligament surgery and is only scheduled to return in February 2016. In fact, out of the 10 players who are only set to return in 2017, 7 are as a result of knee injuries and specifically ligament damage.
A mention must go out to Stephen Ireland of Stoke City is who currently sidelined with a double leg fracture which is a horrific injury to sustain and will be out of action until early February 2017.
The final 2 players in the 10 2017 returnees are Diafra Sakho and Allan McGregor, both of whom are suffering from a lower back injury.
The Premier League is now the richest league in the world, as shown with some mad summer spending (even from teams who don’t normally splash the cash) so owners will be doing everything they can to keep their team from making the drop which normally means to spend, spend, spend.
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