FIFPRO, the representative organisation for 66 player associations, reported that nearly half (44%) of professional footballers had experienced an increase in fatigue during 2022/23, largely due to an increased workload.
The report echoes sentiments from Manchester United’s Raphel Varane, who recently described amendments to injury time rules as ‘dangerous’ due to the number of extra minutes players would need to spend on the field.
Liverpool Doing Comparatively Well
United, who are 80/1 outsiders in the Premier League odds for the title, courtesy of repeated transfer disasters and the negative influence of the Glazers, currently have one of the longest injury lists in the top flight with seven. A bet on football with Paddy Power for the top six is no guarantee for United either.
Liverpool are doing comparatively well, with four players sidelined at the moment in Andy Robertson (shoulder), Stefan Bajčetić (lower leg), Thiago Alcantara (pelvis) and Cody Gakpo (knee). Curtis Jones is also suspended until November after being sent off for a tackle on Yves Bissouma in the defeat to Tottenham at the end of September.
Chelsea are struggling both in the league and the infirmary, with seven players sidelined, while Manchester City have just one injured player of note in Kevin De Bruyne (thigh).
While it’d be easy to state that a packed injury list is detrimental to a club’s domestic performances (especially as Sheffield United, with ten players out, have just one point from this campaign), Tottenham seem to be the exception to the rule.
Currently top of the Premier League, Spurs are stuck with eight absences, including one with no return date in Alfie Whiteman.
The Worst Records
Of course, injuries are an unfortunate reality of life in the Premier League.
Since the turn of the decade, European clubs have posted a 20% increase in injuries, as schedules get heavier with seemingly no consideration for players’ welfare.
Liverpool had one of the worst records for injuries in the league during 2022/23. The Premier Injuries website reported a tally of 36 players out, 184 games missed and 1,574 days lost to knocks and illness by the end of the campaign.
The same source notes that hamstring injuries had the biggest impact on the Premier League in 2022/23. A total of 145 hamstring problems cost clubs more than £70m. Liverpool suffered ten.
As for our current injury list, Gakpo’s knee injury is part of a grouping which resulted in losses of around £15m last season, while calf strains like Bajcetic’s were slightly more costly at £20m.
Hamstring injuries were by far the most common concern affecting modern footballers. The British Journal of Sports Medicine reports that incidences of injured hamstrings doubled between 2001/02 and 2021/22, from 12% of all injuries to 24%.
This brings us right back to scheduling. It’s reasonable to expect things to get worse at Anfield – and elsewhere – before they get better. The Reds played 51 matches in 2022/23, including ten matches in 22 days during one period last year. We’ll also play four games in 11 days between today and 9 November.
Last season, Jurgen Klopp, Virgil van Dijk and Alisson Becker all made their thoughts on the matter clear but nobody – especially Alan Shearer, who called the Dutchman’s claims ‘nonsense‘ – seemed too interested in listening.
Things have to break – or snap – eventually.