The congestion of international, domestic and cup competitions is beginning to show as the injury lists grow longer. Several top stars will be missing from the Matchday 5 stage. Let’s take a look at how this might impact the results and standings.

Eric Abidal – D – Barcelona
The 30-year-old suffered a thigh injury on international duty with France and will miss games against Athletic Club Bilbao at the weekend, Internazionale on Tuesday, and their massive derby with Real Madrid five days later. Barça are third in Group F, a point behind leaders Internazionale and trail second-placed FC Rubin Kazan on head-to-head record, meaning their title defence would end abruptly if they lost to Inter and the Russian team beat FC Dynamo Kyiv in Kazan on Matchday 5.

Robin Van Persie – F – Arsenal
Van Persie’s story has taken a turn into what at first read seems like a subplot from a science fiction or urban fantasy novel. After rupturing ankle ligaments while on international duty for Netherlands, van Persie is reportedly travelling to Belgrade to seek treatment using a horse’s placenta. While sounding bizarre there is scientific evidence that the placenta is rich in proteins and iron as well as a host of other vital nutrients.  This might explain why many animals eat the placenta after giving birth, a practice called placentophagia. Van Persie will miss about six weeks and will not take part in Arsenal’s remaining Group H fixtures against Royal Standard de Liège and Olympiacos FC, although the Gunners now require just a point to book their place in the last 16. Complicating team selection for Arsene Wenger is the fact that forward Nicklas Bendtner, a potential replacement for Van Persie, had a groin operation in Germany last Tuesday and is expected to be out for three to four weeks.

Frank Lampard – M – Chelsea
Lampard will miss Chelsea FC’s trip to FC Porto on November 25 after being ruled out for three weeks with a torn thigh muscle. Chelsea have already secured a first knockout round berth but victory in Porto would clinch first place in Group D. Lampard is also set to miss the Premier League leaders’ fixtures against Wolverhampton Wanderers FC on Saturday week and a massive away game to Arsenal FC on Nov 29th. Chelsea have a deep midfield and should be able to adjust for Lampard’s loss but the real news will be Chelsea demanding compensation from the English FA.

Reports of Lampard’s injury came after a cramped seven-hour plane journey. Many of the English players were reported to have complained of cramps and muscle pain after being forced to take a long-haul flight on a charter plane designed for short-haul only. Reports in the press claim that Chelsea will look to recoup Lampard’s £151,000-a-week wages in compensation from the FA.

Fernando Torres – F – Liverpool
Torres has been plagued with a persistent groin injury, which he has aggravated in recent weeks and he is still struggling with his fitness. Liverpool’s top scorer has been receiving round the clock treatment in a bid to get fit as soon as possible. However, this weekend’s game with Manchester City has come too soon for Torres with Liverpool hoping he will return in time for the Merseyside derby with Everton later this month. He remains doubtful for Liverpool’s must-win game against Debreceni VSC on November 24th. Compounding Liverpool’s problems, Israeli international Yossi Benayoun, 29, and 27-year-old Spain winger Riera have both sustained torn hamstrings. The initial prognosis was that they would be sitting out the trip to Debrecen and would struggle to be fit in time for the ACF Fiorentina home game on December 9th. However, both have also visited the same Serbian physiotherapist that Van Persie will visit. Mariana Kovacevic has been credited with accelerating recovery from injury with the use of placenta cells.

No matter what lineup they are able to field, Liverpool must win both reamaining games in order to have a chance of making the knockout round. They currently trail second-place Fiorentina by 5 points.