Arsenal currently sit fourth in the Premier League table, just a single win off the top spot that houses local rivals Chelsea. However, had they changed their approach to convalescents, they could as well be the table toppers, never mind winning the title at least once in the past decade.
Arsenal’s treatment room currently features unfamiliar faces such as Per Mertesacker, Santi Cazorla and Hector Bellerin, but Aaron Ramsey, who only recently parted ways with his injuried colleagues to hit the ground running, is not an infrequent visitor as he has spent 314 days (according to Arsenal Report) with them since August 2013.
To put things into perspective, he has spent almost one-thirds of the past three years away from the pitch.
He has, indeed, produced some amazing displays such as the one in the 2014 Football Association Cup finals that saw him grab an extra time winner; however, for such moments to arrive, the Gunners have oft-times been forced to wait for him to gain match fitness after his recuperation period ends.
The Walcott worries
However, the issue is not restricted only to the former Cardiff City midfielder as Theo Walcott has had his share of stays in the treatment room.
Sidelined for over 410 days since August 2013, he surpasses his Welsh teammate in terms of time spent on the sidelines by some margin.
In addition to the timeframe, the aftermath of recuperation has also been more significant in Walcott’s case as he has been known to underperform for extended periods right after gaining enough fitness to rack up appearances for Arsenal.
For an instance, his latest calf injury in October 2015 that saw him be on the sidelines for over a month had a lasting effect on his performance as he managed just five goals and three assists in 28 competitive appearances upon returning.
Reduced to cameo appearances, the former wunderkind’s Arsenal career seemed dead until he reinvented himself at the start of the nascent season.
Although he has been directly involved in 10 goals in 13 starts this season, his poor form indirectly led to the Gunners squandering arguably their easiest opportunity to end the title drought.
Not the only anomaly
The above-mentioned British boys are not anomalies as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who was once touted to fill Wayne Rooney’s shoes in the national team, has been unavailable for just 18 days short of half a century days since August 2013.
With 11 injuries speckling his underwhelming career with the London outfit, he may never reach the heights he was pencilled in to. However, Arsene Wenger, provided he extends his stay at Ashburton Grove, will keep him at the club with hopes of molding him into what he will likely never become.
While the Ox manages a string of games a string of games at least every now and then, his national teammate Danny Welbeck exemplifies everything that is wrong with Arsene Wenger’s management.
Spending over 520 days away from the first team since November 2014, he has hardly justified his then-hefty transfer fee of £16 million.
While muscular injuries, if not, injuries in general are inevitable in football, Arsenals’ reliance on perennially injured players and highly injury-prone players is denting their progress greatly.
Ben Dinnery, a renowned injury data analyst, revealed that the Emirates Stadium club has suffered the most number of injuries in the first seven gameweeks of the last five seasons, at 14.2. However, despite that, they have managed to lift two FA Cups and two Community Shield trophies in that span.
Here is wondering how much more they will proceed to achieve in the event of them changing their attitude toward injuries.
Written by Praveen Paramasivam
Follow Praveen on Twitter @49Praveen
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