Do we get more injuries now than in the past?

If you read the daily ramblings on UNTOLD ARSENAL you’ll know that we’ve been talking on occasion about injuries, and whether Liverpool’s manager is right when he says that they have been hit by them like never before.

The general feeling on the Untold blog is that over the last three years Arsenal have had more injuries than Liverpool.


But, I hear you ask (yes, well, I’ve used that line before, I know) what about 100 years ago?  What were injuries like then?


The problem we have in answering a question like that is that although I have the Arsenal team sheets for each game 100 years ago, I don’t have much in the way of information as to why players came and went.


I wrote a few days ago about the way in which Woolwich Arsenal played a very injured keeper in a game in 1909, but such information is hard to come by.


If we look at the team sheet for Woolwich Arsenal in the 1st division for the whole 1909-10 season the club used 28 different players – which seems a slightly higher number than later on.  Travel forward to 1987/88 and the club used 21 different players – but that included substitutes.   But in  1964/65 – the last season without substitutes Arsenal used 24 players.  So maybe things have not changed.


In the second match of the 1909/10 season Arsenal brought in four players who were not there in the first game.  By the last game of the season only seven of the players who started the first game were on the pitch.


But one of the things we notice 100 years ago is not just that players changed around but that there was a fair old number of players who played one or two games and vanished.  GR Hoare played once in the 1909/1910 season, and was never seen again.  McKeller played three games.  Oliver played one.  (What linked them was that all of them were tried at centre forward – obviously a problem for the club in that season).


S Bassett played one game at right half (number 4) and Fisher came in twice as goalkeeper – as we considered the other day.


So overall it looks like a fairly settled group of around 16 players who came in and out with injuries and then a collection of juniors who got a few games each.


Take out all the players who played four or less games in the season and we see not 28 different players but 20 players – which looks a much more modest number.


Overall I would suggest that there were injuries and changes through the year, and probably at a similar level to now.  The cause might be difference (the roughness of the ground, the heaviness of the ball 100 years ago, the speed of the game today) but the numbers were probably much the same.


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