Comparing teams injury records has recently become a thing on twitter. “Man City have been unlucky with injuries”, “fire the physio”, “europe causes injuries” cry the same Man City fans who then go on to say Liverpool have suffered no injuries and that is why they are currently top. Liverpool fans say that they too have suffered a good few injuries and that City’s squad, so much larger than Liverpool’s should be able to cope.
Let’s see if we can answer some of the questions and statements currently doing the rounds.
Do teams that play in Europe suffer more injuries?
*This is an old graph, note the y axis is shortened. I was stupid 1 year ago.
So teams that play in europe tend to suffer more injuries according to the data I collect. That this happens isn’t surprising. Teams who play in europe play more games at higher intensity with fewer recovery days inbetween games. Bodies break down due to frequency of games and lack of rest. If your team plays in europe then it is likely to lose more man games to injury than a team who doesn’t play in europe.
Do Man City Have a much bigger squad than Liverpool?
Not true. According to transfermarkt.de Man City have 24 senior proffesionals (3 GK’s) and Liverpool have 22 (2 GK’s). The squad players – players 18-23 in the batting order – for both clubs are lightly used, for whatever reasons, despite the transfer fee’s paid for those players.
Which Club Suffers More Injuries?
Well, it’s close to a dead heat. Liverpool have played one game than City.
*Injury data scraped from a famous dataprovider website. Previews and game reviews are checked and injury totals counted per game. There may well be issues with undercounting by said website or certain teams not disclosing details on injured players (Chelsea).
Man City fans are crazy to complain about injuries. Yes, City have suffered injuries to high profile and important players but the total number of games lost could have been much worse. Arsenal’s number is bordering on the criminal and has been for years. System training or overworking issues are responsible for some of Arsenal’s issues.
So City and Liverpool have suffered the same number of injuries but the distribution of those injuries between squad players and key players and certain positions within each squad varies.
Which Players Get Injured For Man City & Liverpool?
I could trawl back through the data and work out which positions have suffered the most injuries but it seems far too time consuming right now. Instead we’ll use the following charts as proxies:
City have a core (>60% time on pitch%) of 7 players: 2 center mids, 2 wide attacking players, a right back and 2 center backs. Zero forwards. Only Dzeko has featured more than the simple squad average of 47.5% of minutes.
Now look how that contrasts with Liverpool’s data.
8 players >60% ToP%. 2 defenders, 3 midfielders, 3 forwards. Johnson, Skrtel, Coutinho, Henderson, Gerrard, Sterling, Suarez and STurridge. That is Liverpool’s core and it has remained relatively untouched this season with, especially, Henderson, Skrtel, Suarez and Gerrard playing north of 80% of Liverpool’s league minutes.
Liverpool and Man City may have suffered similar numbers of injuries this season, despite one team facing the far heavier workload in terms of games played. All the injury numbers are very similar, the way each squad has been affected by thse injuries is different.
Liverpool’s core, especially the midfield and forward group, have all played over 60% of league minutes whilst Liverpool’s defense has suffered through injuries and absence.
Conversely, City doesn’t have a single one of its 4 forwards having played over 60% of the minutes, but City has relatively good health from Toure, Fernandinho and the creative wide players. Zabaleta is a near ever present, whilst Kompany and Demichelis clear 60% of the minutes played.
Not all of the minutes missed are solely due to injury, some players are rotated for tactical or maintenance reasons (Dzeko, Kolarov, Sterling, Kolo Toure) but injury hass affected both teams in different ways: Liverpool has seen its front six remain intact whilst City’s forward core has missed significant time due to injury and rotation. David Silva likely being done for the season certainly doesn’t help.