Arsenal have a long history with players whose careers have suffered due to a string of injuries - from Jack Wilshere's constant ankle injuries to Aaron Ramsey's multitude of muscular injuries following his nasty leg break to the notorious case of Abou Diaby's unfulfilled potential due to suffering 18 distinct injuries during his time with the Gunners.
These cases along with a recent string of anterior cruciate ligament injuries and the multiple setbacks for midfielder Thomas Partey who came with such high expectations have unfairly colored many Arsenal fans' views of the physio and training staff.
This season has featured an extremely truncated off-season and heavy fixture congestion unlike anything we've ever seen before, with the Premier League fitting in it's normal schedule over a shorter period of time and international qualifiers for EuroCup and Copa America still taking place. Player health and safety has never been at more risk physically and likely compounded by the mental burnout and strain from the games and pandemic measures.
However, the physio and training staff have nothing been short of remarkable this season when faced with those unprecedented variables, possibly due to the additions of highly touted former-PSG and South American physio Bruno Mazzioti and the promotion of Jordan Reece who worked his way from Academy Physiotherapist to Lead Physiotherapist. Here are some key highlights:
1 - According to the injury data from Premier League injuries, Arsenal have one of the lowest injury totals in the Premier League this season - both in terms of overall injuries and games missed.
2 - The team has dealt with multiple highly sensitive injuries - particularly hamstring strains to Rob Holding and Thomas Partey - extremely well, with both players coming back earlier than expected and not suffering a recurrence to the most highly recurring muscular injury, according to the research. The latter - Partey - was particularly impressive as he had just returned from two extended stints out due to thigh issues and thus the physio and training staff wasn't only dealing with the hamstring problem but also fitness deficits.
3 - As of yesterday, we received an update from manager Mikel Arteta that each of the currently injured players - David Luiz, Kieran Tierney, Martin Ødegaard, and Alexander Lacazette are currently ahead of schedule on their rehab timelines. A huge boost for a team that faces a critical Europa League semi-finals vs Villareal and potential qualification for Champions League football next season.
Arsenal's physio and training staff have navigated this season's maelstrom of injury risk astutely and I hope fans will give credit where it is due and some benefit of the doubt moving forward. Regardless of that, the ongoing development and excellence of the backroom staff will be critical for Arsenal as many players wont realistically have a break until the summer of 2022, nearly two straight years of high level football.