Monday, December 4, 2023

Premier League injuries state of play: Rise in absences and hamstring problems

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But as the breakdown shows, both Manchester United and Newcastle United have had the worst luck with injuries this season. This probably explains why both have struggled for form, sitting sixth and seventh in the Premier League table respectively. There is a caveat to this, though, with Manchester United and Newcastle among the teams to have played the most games in all competitions.

And Newcastle suffered 15 injuries across the same period in 2022-23, so they are down one from last campaign. They had 15.1 injuries per 1,000 minutes last season, while in 2023-24 this figure drops to 9.7 injuries per 1,000 minutes. It is also worth noting that incidences of muscle injuries tend to cause the most concern, as they can be seen as somewhat avoidable, while other knocks are part of playing a contact sport. Newcastle only have five game-missing muscle injuries, which puts them ninth.

There has also been injury trouble at Nottingham Forest, Sheffield United and Crystal Palace, who are next highest on the list with 13 injuries. At the other end, West Ham United are considered the Premier League’s healthiest side, with only five injuries that have caused players to miss games.

At the start of this season, new rules were implemented that would see added time with more accurate accounting for goals, substitutions, injuries and time-wasting. There were immediate concerns that this would lead to more injuries due to increased playing time.

While there is no established link between the total of injuries and the number of extra minutes played, the amount of injuries has increased overall when compared both to last season and the four-season average.

The four-season injury average at this stage of the campaign is 170 — and compared to this season’s total of 196 that is an increase of around 15 per cent.

This is also a 30 per cent rise from last season (151). However, it is worth mentioning that incidence rates had dropped by 11 per cent before the World Cup and the spacing of fixtures last campaign was impacted by game postponements following the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

Over the last few weeks, there have also been a significant number of players suffering hamstring injuries. Tottenham Hotspur’s Micky van de Ven was one of them, pulling up during his side’s 4-1 loss to Chelsea earlier this month. It feels like it could be a growing problem, and the data backs that up.

Hamstring injuries are up 55 per cent on the four-season average — with 53 by this stage of the season compared to an average of 34. They have also increased by 96 per cent when compared to last season (27).

This data suggests that injuries and specifically hamstring injuries are on the up — and that concerns over changes to the added-time rules have been borne out. But what is the individual state of play of injuries at every Premier League club?


Arsenal

Arsenal have not been fully hit by an injury crisis, but there has been an ominous cloud over them all season with players picking up knocks weekly. Three players were ruled out for definite ahead of their 3-1 win over Burnley, but that number rose to eight when including ‘injury doubts’.

Jurrien Timber (anterior cruciate ligament), Thomas Partey (thigh) and Emile Smith Rowe (knee) were the definites. Bukayo Saka, Takehiro Tomiyasu and Eddie Nketiah were the three doubts who featured, while Martin Odegaard and Gabriel Jesus (hamstring) continued their respective absences.

Ben White also missed out due to discomfort in training, taking Arsenal’s injury tally to six for the international break.

Art de Roche

Aston Villa

Villa suffered a double hit of injury misfortune at the start of the season with Tyrone Mings and Emi Buendia suffering ACL injuries — ruling them out of the campaign — within four days of each other.


Mings suffered the injury in his side’s 5-1 defeat to Newcastle (Owen Humphreys/PA Images via Getty Images)

Both continue to do their work at Bodymoor Heath, while Diego Carlos missed the 3-1 victory against Fulham due to an unspecified injury.

However, Jacob Ramsey will return to first-team training over the international break following a metatarsal injury and Alex Moreno, who has been on the bench in recent weeks, hopes to accrue more minutes having not played since May due to a hamstring issue.

Jacob Tanswell

Bournemouth

Andoni Iraola’s Premier League tactical revolution may require him to find a way to win games without a central midfield. In a summer that saw the club accrue wingers and attacking midfielders like they were a Black Friday doorbuster, Tyler Adams arrived as the sole defensive midfield cover.

His long-awaited debut from the bench against Stoke City saw him a suffer further hamstring injury that’ll keep him out until February or March at the earliest. Alex Scott’s promising start to life at Dean Court was also abruptly cut by an MCL (medial collateral ligament) sprain that’ll likely keep him out until the new year.

Max Aarons left with a limp following the win over Newcastle, while Philip Billing is also reportedly carrying a knock.

Jeff Rueter

Brentford

Five minutes after coming off the bench in Brentford’s 3-0 victory over Fulham on the second weekend of the season, Josh Dasilva pulled his hamstring and triggered the start of an injury crisis for the club.

A month later, Rico Henry tore his ACL against Newcastle and was ruled out for the rest of the season. Mikkel Damsgaard underwent keyhole surgery on a knee issue while Kevin Schade needed a thigh operation after getting injured in the warm-up ahead of a 3-1 loss to Everton.

Keane Lewis-Potter was finding his feet in the top flight and then picked up a calf injury. Did we mention Shandon Baptiste dislocated his shoulder in training?

Just when it looked like things were improving with the return of Ben Mee from a muscle injury, Aaron Hickey suffered a high-grade hamstring injury in training and will be unavailable until next year.

It means Brentford have to survive the next two months, which include fixtures against Arsenal, Brighton & Hove Albion and Aston Villa, without a recognised left-back.

Jay Harris

Brighton

Brighton were without eight players against Sheffield United, including regular left-back Pervis Estupinan and the next three options for that position.

Estupinan, Tariq Lamptey, and James Milner are all likely to return before Christmas from various muscle injuries, but Solly March is out for the season with a ruptured ACL and meniscus damage.

Lewis Dunk pulled out of the England squad with a groin injury sustained in the win at Ajax last week. He could be back for the next game at Nottingham Forest on November 25.

Three forwards were also missing against Sheffield United: Evan Ferguson (back), Danny Welbeck (hamstring) and Julio Enciso (meniscus tear).

Ferguson is short-term, but Welbeck and Enciso are unlikely to return before January.

Andy Naylor

Burnley

The injury room at Burnley is becoming less populated but the club will remain without striker Lyle Foster for the foreseeable future as he is taking time away from the game to receive treatment for his mental health.

Fellow forward Michael Obafemi made a timely return to action, featuring for the first time this season against Arsenal following hamstring surgery in the summer. Aaron Ramsey also returned to the matchday squad after a minor muscle problem.

Hjalmar Ekdal (knee) and Manuel Benson (ankle) both featured for the under-21s earlier this month as they stepped up their recovery. They are expected back after the international break.

Darko Churlinov — who was out with blood poisoning — has also featured for the under-21s. He is likely to play for North Macedonia during the international break after being called up.

Andy Jones

Chelsea

It is a measure of Chelsea’s terrible injury record that the list of players on the treatment table now feels quite small.

Ben Chilwell, Wesley Fofana and Trevoh Chalobah are still going to be ruled out for some time, while Carney Chukwuemeka’s knee injury is taking longer to recover from than initially expected. At one point this season, though, the amount of Chelsea absentees had reached double figures.

Chelsea have had a lot more good news of late with several players, including captain Reece James, returning to the squad.


Reece James’ minutes have been carefully managed since his return from injury (Chris Lee – Chelsea FC/Chelsea FC via Getty Images)

The club now also have high hopes that summer signings Christopher Nkunku and Romeo Lavia will be able to feature for the first time after the international break.

Nkunku sustained a knee injury during a pre-season game against Borussia Dortmund, while Lavia suffered an ankle problem.

Defender Levi Colwill missed the 4-4 draw with Manchester City with a shoulder injury but it has been described as ‘minor’.

Simon Johnson

Crystal Palace

Palace’s injury crisis was so severe that manager Roy Hodgson needed to write the names on a piece of paper before his pre-match press conference for Palace’s game with Nottingham Forest last month to ensure he didn’t forget any.

Fortunately for Hodgson, that list has significantly reduced in size. He remains without goalkeeper Dean Henderson with a thigh injury sustained on his debut against Manchester United in the Carabao Cup.

James Tomkins is expected to return after the international break, while Jesurun Rak-Sakyi is absent with a hamstring injury. Nathan Ferguson will be out for a lengthy period with his own hamstring problem but has played just eight minutes of senior football since signing for Palace in July 2020.

Matt Woosnam

Everton

Club captain Seamus Coleman is edging closer to a return after completing over 60 minutes for the under-21s in a recent EFL Trophy win over Mansfield Town. The Republic of Ireland international has not played since sustaining knee ligament damage against Leicester City in May.

Amadou Onana has been nursing a calf injury and was substituted at half-time against Crystal Palace. Fellow midfielder Andre Gomes is back in light training after a calf injury but is still some way from being considered for selection. The same is also true of Dele Alli, who is recovering from a long-term groin problem.

Patrick Boyland

Fulham

Injuries have not been severe at Fulham this season, but they have had some disruptive problems. Right-sided centre-back has been a problem position of late, as both Tosin Adarabioyo and Issa Diop have been unavailable. Tosin is now nearing a return following a groin issue that required surgery after the summer, although Diop’s foot injury may keep him out into December.


Adarabioyo’s absence has caused problems for Fulham (Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Fortunately, other issues are beginning to clear. Both Adama Traore and Kenny Tete have been absent since September with hamstring and groin issues respectively. But both returned against Aston Villa — with Traore stepping off the bench and Tete in the matchday squad.

Striker Rodrigo Muniz suffered a knee injury in the defeat by Manchester United, but he should return next month.

Peter Rutzler

Liverpool

One look at the bench during Liverpool’s last Premier League game was enough to highlight how injuries are starting to bite. Both the midfield and defensive areas were depleted — but the positive is that there aren’t too many long-term setbacks.

Andy Robertson’s shoulder injury is the most concerning and will rule him out until the new year alongside Thiago, who hasn’t featured this season.

Stefan Bajcetic, Ryan Gravenberch and Curtis Jones all missed the last outing but will be assessed before the Premier League return. Joe Gomez and Ibrahima Konate will also be checked after sitting out that game.

So far this season, Liverpool have rotated and managed the squad well. Now, though, is the crunch time as the games arrive thick and fast.

Gregg Evans

Luton Town

Luton have more injury concerns (eight) than they have Premier League points (six).

Summer signing Mads Andersen has been out of action since last month, and is a big loss. The centre-back, who scored against West Ham United in Luton’s first Premier League game at Kenilworth Road, sustained what Rob Edwards described as a “nasty hamstring injury” and could be out until the new year.

Other absentees include Alfie Doughty, who hobbled off during the 1-0 defeat to Manchester United. The left-back has been a revelation for Luton. Republic of Ireland winger Chiedozie Ogbene has emerged as an injury concern while away on international duty; his tight hamstring is being assessed.

Defender Amari’i Bell (thigh) and Arsenal loanee Albert Sambi Lokonga both have hamstring injuries, and all being well they should be back in action later this month or early next.

Dan Potts, Cauley Woodrow and Reece Burke are also out of action. Woodrow could return after the international break but it is looking like it may be a longer wait for Potts and Burke.

Caoimhe O’Neill

Manchester City

After beginning to clear up only a few weeks ago, the Premier League champions’ injury problems are starting to resurface. John Stones was easing his way back in from a thigh issue, only to suffer a recurrence in the Champions League win over Young Boys.

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Stones was greatly missed in the 4-4 draw at Stamford Bridge, which also saw Ederson pick up a foot injury. The goalkeeper, who had displaced Alisson as his country’s No 1, withdrew from the Brazil squad for their World Cup qualifiers.

Mateo Kovacic will also sit out this international break due to a muscle issue and Nathan Ake withdrew from the Netherlands squad after failing to travel for the visit to Chelsea. Sergio Gomez is still struggling with an ankle problem.

At least there is better news on Kevin De Bruyne, who has remained sidelined since picking up a thigh injury on the new season’s opening night at Turf Moor. Pep Guardiola said last week that he is close to returning to training.

Sam Lee

Manchester United

Christian Eriksen and Rasmus Hojlund are the latest additions to Erik ten Hag’s lengthy injury list. Both men hobbled off in United’s most recent game against Luton Town. Eriksen will be unavailable for a month with a knee issue, while Hojlund has a muscle strain that could see him return at the start of December.

Earlier this month, Ten Hag said he did not believe Casemiro (hamstring injury) or Lisandro Martinez (metatarsal issue) would be available before Christmas, and Jonny Evans will be out for three to four weeks due to an undisclosed injury sustained in the Champions League.

Luke Shaw could return from his long-standing injury in United’s next fixture against Everton. Tyrell Malacia and Amad Diallo are still recovering from knee injuries.

Carl Anka

Newcastle United

It is almost quicker to list who will be available for Newcastle against Chelsea, given how grave their injury crisis has become…

Newcastle sit top of the table no team wants to lead, namely the Premier League’s injury one, with up to 12 potential absentees next weekend.


Jacob Murphy was the latest Newcastle player to pick up an injury (Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

An alarming 10 of those are sidelined through injury — Sven Botman (knee), Matt Targett (hamstring), Dan Burn (back), Javier Manquillo (groin), Elliot Anderson (back), Miguel Almiron (hamstring), Alexander Isak (groin), Callum Wilson (hamstring), Harvey Barnes (foot) and Jacob Murphy (shoulder) — while Sandro Tonali is serving a 10-month suspension for gambling on football, and Lewis Hall, who was signed on an initial loan with an obligation to buy from Chelsea, is ineligible to play against his parent club.

Worryingly, only Botman and Isak look potentially set to return next weekend — neither is certain to, either — with most of those unavailable for the medium-to-long term.

Chris Waugh

Nottingham Forest

Nottingham Forest’s previously extensive injury problems have eased significantly recently, with only Callum Hudson-Odoi missing from training ahead of the game against West Ham. But even he should return after the international break.

Anthony Elanga picked up an as-yet unspecified problem, causing him to withdraw from the Sweden squad — and Steve Cooper will have a careful eye on the other Forest players who are away on international duty.

Nigeria international Taiwo Awoniyi is still feeling the impact of a groin problem but is able to play through it. Felipe has an ongoing knee issue which limits the amount of training he can do, but Cooper believes he is close to being able to feature.

Paul Taylor

Sheffield United

Injuries have become such a problem this season — a dozen players were unavailable for last month’s 5-0 hammering at Arsenal — that an independent party has been invited in to assess what, if anything, can be done differently.

However, with the injuries being a mixture of muscle, contact and freak occurrences — such as Chris Basham’s horror leg-break against Fulham — it is hard to gauge what the findings will be at a time when many clubs are missing players.

Captain John Egan has been absent along with Anel Ahmedhodzic and Oli McBurnie, while Rhys Norrington-Davies, Tom Davies, Rhian Brewster and Daniel Jebbison have all been on the sidelines. McBurnie should, at least, be back after the international break.

Richard Sutcliffe

Tottenham Hotspur

Over the last few weeks, Spurs have lost James Maddison (ankle) and Micky van de Ven (hamstring) until the new year, while Richarlison has had an operation to cure a longstanding groin issue that will keep him out for another few weeks.


Maddison’s injury sees Spurs without their chief creator (Glyn Kirk/AFP via Getty Images)

In addition, Destiny Udogie was not picked for the Italy squad so that he could focus on shaking off a hamstring problem that forced him to miss the trip to Crystal Palace at the end of October. It’s hoped he’ll be back to face Aston Villa in Spurs’ next match.

Prior to that rash of injuries, Spurs already had many absentees. Ivan Perisic is out for the season (ACL), Manor Solomon is expected back in January (meniscus), and a timeframe hasn’t been given for Ryan Sessegnon (hamstring), though Ange Postecoglou called it “longer-term” than a possible return this month on October 26. Reserve goalkeeper Alfie Whiteman will also be out for a while after having ankle surgery in July.

There is also slight concern over first-choice goalkeeper Guglielmo Vicario, who is suffering from “flu symptoms” while on international duty.

Charlie Eccleshare

West Ham United

Unlike their contemporaries, West Ham had no injury concerns heading into the international break. It is a welcome boost for manager David Moyes, who will hope his side maintains their form — and lack of injuries — in the league game against Burnley after the break.

Roshane Thomas

Wolverhampton Wanderers

Wolves have just one major injury at present — but it is the one they would have wanted least of all.

Pedro Neto told TNT Sports on Saturday that he is scheduled to return from his hamstring injury in “three of four weeks”. Gary O’Neil will be anxious to avoid any setbacks in Neto’s recovery to ensure the Portugal winger is back up to full speed in time for Christmas and New Year.

Young midfielder Joe Hodge is the only other absentee (shoulder) but the Ireland Under-21 captain is a fringe first-teamer at Wolves.

Steve Madeley

(Top photos: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images; Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

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