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Why Have There Been More Injuries This Premier League Season?

EPL head injury

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.

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  1. Eric

    April 27, 2010 at 1:46 pm

    I’m I the only one who thinks that the excessive injuries this season have a lot to do witht the World Cup? Between the long grueling EPL season plus the added WC qualifying it’s been a long year. I think players have just been over trained and over played and eventually it weakens the body and leaves it more suseptible to injuries. The body of an athlete really needs some time to rest and recover, but players don’t get the summer off these days with international duty and also all of these world tours and freindlies being played before the season. Is there even an off season anymore?

    Not only is it bad to not have an off season, but normal weeks off during the EPL season have been ruined because of WC qualifying, thus never letting a player fully recover.

    • Scott Alexander

      June 5, 2010 at 6:02 pm

      You’re not the only one, but add the African cup to the WCQs. It seems to be particularly taking a toll on the Chelsea players.

  2. Ringo

    April 27, 2010 at 10:49 am

    I think it’s important to note that there is a difference between playing physical and playing dirty. Yes, there have been some dirty plays this year (kicks to the face are always nasty and there have been some egregious tackles) but many of the injuries have simply come from aggressive yet totally legal play. When going in for a 50/50 ball, it is actually advantageous to go in hard, because the player who pulls up at the last minute is far more likely to get injured. Maybe some of the more flambouyant players need to learn this.

    I agree that there have been an astronomical amount of injuries this year – and to some very significant players – but I don’t think play has been significantly more “dirty.” Some of it is certainly up to bad fortune. As you pointed out in the article, the competitive nature of the league this year with its increased parity has led to this style of play, and it is NOT a bad thing. Perhaps players need to relearn how they go in for loose balls, and soon enough it will be those who bring in a physical element to their game who survive. Surely we do not wish to see the EPL become La Liga, where referees are expected to call ticky-tack fouls and every manager is an Arsene Wenger accusing physical opponents of playing “anti-football.”

  3. Sam

    April 27, 2010 at 9:35 am

    I think this is a troubling trend in English Football right now, and as the dominance of the English clubs in European football wanes it makes sense that the league would get more physical.

    Liverpool this year reverted back to their bruising style after they actually outscored teams last year (case in point Marouane Fellaini’s injury). Man Utd lost Ronaldo, Arsenal has been ravaged by injury in large part because they aren’t equipped to handle this style of play.

    Also, the talent level in the lower half of the table has taken a real hit as well, and you see teams that are rough like Stoke, Blackburn, and Sunderland slated to finish mid-table. If it was your job on the line, wouldn’t you play dirty to secure survival?

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