If someone was counting the number of times a stretcher has come on the pitch this Premier League season, I have a strong suspicion that this would be a record breaking season for all the wrong reasons.
Watching the very physical game between Everton and Fulham this past Sunday was like seeing a boxing match unfold before my eyes. Hefty collisions. Plenty of blood pouring from cuts and fouls galore. It reminded me how this season, particularly the last few months, have seen so many serious injuries on the pitch. In all my years of watching top flight English football, I’ve never seen so many stretchers on the pitch and so much oxygen administered to players.
Take this past weekend just as one example. It was like watching the film “Band Of Brother.” Manchester City goalkeeper Shay Given dislocated his shoulder and is out for the rest of the season. Stoke goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen dislocated his elbow and may miss out on playing for Denmark in the World Cup.
Then there were the injuries from previous weeks. The nasty kick in the face by Tuncay on George Boateng which knocked him unconscious. Of course, we can’t forget the injury that happened to Aaron Ramsey after the foul by Ryan Shawcross. And there have been many more. It just seems that this season more than any other has resulted in so many serious injuries.
But why? Personally, I think it’s because the league is as competitive as it has ever has been and players, week-in week out, know what bonuses are available if they score goals or if their team finishes in a certain position in the league table. There’s more to play for, which means that players are more desperate to win.
It’s also the nature of the English football season for many clubs to “get stuck in” and to try the physical approach to win 50/50 balls and to stop the opposition from advancing. It also doesn’t help when referees are seemingly more lenient to allow certain things to happen without blowing the whistle. Maybe it’s me but it seems that the pushing, shoving and holding are getting worse in the penalty box when corners happen. At this rate, it’ll resemble a rugby scrum before you know it.
The sad result of all of these physical fouls and freak accidents is that the number of players who have been ruled out of this summer’s World Cup is growing. And those who are not injured must feel as if they’ve had chunks taken out of their bodies this season after a very grueling Premier League season. Yes, injuries happen. They always happen, but this season it seems they’ve been happening more frequently.