Arsenal crocks return to fitness as stats highlight injury crisis
Six players could return over Christmas with more in the new year – but how long will they stay fit?
Several of Arsenal's injured stars could make their return to action over the Christmas period, says Arsene Wenger, as new research proves that the Gunners have the worst injury record in the Premier League.
Speaking ahead of the games against QPR, West Ham and Southampton, the Arsenal manager revealed:
- David Ospina, Tomas Rosicky and Yaya Sanogo would be available for QPR on Boxing Day
- Laurent Koscielny and Hector Bellerin should be ready to play against West Ham on Sunday
- Aaron Ramsey could be back for the Southampton match on New Year's Day
- Mikel Arteta has suffered a setback and will not be available until next month, when Mesut Ozil should also make a comeback
Wenger's update comes after French midfielder Mathieu Flamini warned Arsenal's rivals that the Gunners would march up the table next year, stating it would be "crazy" not to expect the team to improve.
His "confident prediction — despite Wenger's team sitting sixth in the table, behind West Ham United and Southampton — is rooted in his conviction that the injury crisis that hangs over them will alleviate in the new year", says The Times.
In addition to the players scheduled to return in the next few weeks, Arsenal are also missing Jack Wilshere, out with an ankle problem, while Serge Gnabry and Abou Diaby have also beens sidelined for most of the season.
Arsenal's problem with injuries is well documented, but the Daily Telegraph has confirmed what many supporters believed by publishing the "most comprehensive available analysis" of injury information. The paper's statistics, prepared by Ben Dinnery of Premier Injuries Ltd, "clearly demonstrate that Arsenal do experience an unusually high number of injuries, even if Newcastle United, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United have also been similarly affected".
It shows that in the 11 seasons up to 2014 Arsenal suffered 312 significant injuries, 100 more than Chelsea. The Gunners have had a higher than average number of serious injuries for each of the last seven seasons.
Arsenal have reassessed their training methods in a bid to address the problem, and Shad Forsythe, who was part of the German coaching staff at the World Cup, has arrived as head of athletic performance enhancement.
But the Telegraph reserves judgement on the changes. "No improvement is yet evident and, indirectly, it is no exaggeration to suspect that Wenger's job may ultimately depend on finding the right solutions," says the paper.
It notes that only three times since 2003-4 has a team ever won the Premier League with more than 27 injuries. Arsenal have had 25 already this season.