Here we all are, nearing the end of the season, and there are a lot of “what if”s floating around. What if so-and-so hadn’t been injured at that crucial moment? What if Arsenal’s preferred starting XI had been fit for most of the matches? There’s obviously no use in dwelling on these questions, but if you’ve ever wondered about the extent of our first team’s injuries like I have, here’s a visual depiction of it:
(Only Premier League matches have been included in this analysis in order to simplify it. Click to make it larger!)
The text below the image should all be self-explanatory, but here are some more things to note: The first international break was between matches #3 and 4. Stoke City at home was match #27. Note the extra blank spaces (injuries) after those two matches. The only match where Arsenal’s preferred starting XI all started and the result wasn’t a win (#21) was Manchester City at home. The Carling Cup final took place after the 27th match, the second leg against Barcelona after the 28th match.
If you bring in the statistics, it gets more interesting:
(Ignore the roughness of this chart; it was 4 am and I grew a bit lazy after how tedious the first image was.)
Van Persie has only been available for one match fewer than Fabregas this entire season; 21 compared with 22. If you look at the first image, too, his injury was for the most part a single, six-match injury. He took a while to recover from it and was mainly substituted in from the bench – but once he did, he went on a goal-scoring spree and also scored his first hat trick for the club. Fabregas on the other hand has had sporadic injuries throughout the season. It’s been much more difficult for him to recover from an injury and then begin playing to the best of his ability again, because once he does, he aggravates his injury and is out once more. If we decide that van Persie is a luxury player and that he should be sold because he’s injured too often, shouldn’t we say the same of Fabregas as well? (I’m sure that some people do, but that isn’t the point here.)