Arsenal: Injury crisis more than just bad luck

Arsenal, Calum Chambers (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Arsenal, Calum Chambers (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images) /

Injuries have plagued the Arsenal squad. But while it is yet to reach true crisis point, there is a deeper problem at the club that should be addressed.

One fan comment I read earlier this week stated: ‘Look at how [Calum] Chambers yesterday got injured as if he is made of eggshells.’ Other commenters went on to cite the recurring muscular injuries of Rob Holding, Hector Bellerin, Nicolas Pepe, Dani Ceballos, and now Gabriel Martinelli. Their point is that there is a deeper-rooted injury problem at Arsenal, that these injuries are not fully on the players.

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No other top team seems to struggle with regular injuries like Arsenal do. Season-ending injuries, like Aymeric Laporte’s knee injury, are rare across the top flight, and when they occur it is a tragedy. But when it comes to the ‘tight hamstrings’ and ‘unexpected illnesses’, the Gunners seem horrendously susceptible.

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But back to Calum Chambers. How often do you see Connor Coady or Lewis Dunk or Ben Mee go down with a torn muscle after sliding into a challenge as Sead Kolasinac did or after being bowled over from behind as Chambers was? And those are just the bottom sides. When is the last time Virgil Van Dijk or Harry Maguire or Cesar Azpilicueta missed a game or took a month to recover from a common cold?

Then there is Kieran Tierney, who is currently recovering from a dislocated shoulder. He arrived with a sports hernia and missed the latter part of last season after surgery on his groin. The three-month time period for recovery seems a little bloated — though the medical team at the club will, of course, have more information and insight — and his extended absence is majorly problematic at a position that is currently being manned by an 18-year-old winger playing out of position.

There is more to uncover in the Arsenal backroom. This squad possesses an extraordinary brittleness in comparison to others. Part of that might be due to the types of players that the club has signed in recent years, but could an argument be made the medical staff is not doing the one thing it must: keep the players fit.

Injuries are related to misfortune, of course, especially freak, season-ending ones, but you can prepare your body such that it becomes less susceptible to suffering such problems. And at Arsenal, the number of injuries and severity of them suggests that perhaps these players are not best prepared for the increased physicality of the modern game.

And for those who would argue that the current injury problems do not necessarily denote a crisis, I would agree. There is capable squad depth to cover, for now, with the notable exception of centre-back and left-back. But the underlying process of physically preparing players should be considered.

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Perhaps the medical staff should take no blame. Perhaps it is just bad luck. Or perhaps it is the types of players that Arsenal buy. But the injury problem is a real one and it needs to be addressed.