It’s Liverpool’s Knee!
English Premier League injury report very much in the spotlight
It’s hard to think of a week where reports of Premier League injuries have harnessed so many headlines. José Mourinho got the ball rolling on Sunday when he launched a scathing attack on some of his Manchester United players, sending a clear message that they needed to ‘man-up‘.
It was perhaps ironic that Phil Jones was singled out for special praise, since the former Blackburn Rovers defender is as injury prone as they come but Mourinho was clearly trying to make a point.
We often hear tales of how footballers from bygone days would play through the pain barrier and there is a famous story about the late Bill Shankly and Liverpool’s notorious hard-man Tommy Smith. The former Liverpool manager was reported to have once told him ”Take that bandage off! And what do you mean YOUR knee? It’s LIVERPOOL’S knee!”, so it was somewhat refreshing to hear Mourinho’s comments and perhaps signals that Jones still has time on side and may yet resurrect his Manchester United career, under his new manager’s influence.
The other thing in his favour is that he cares about the shirt – it’s not that long ago that he was seen celebrating in the away end, with the visiting supporters, when Manchester United scored a goal at Anfield.
Club vs Country
The spate of international withdrawals that we see today would have been almost unthinkable in Shankly’s time, when playing for your country was regarded as the ultimate honour. However, hot on the heels of Mourinho’s criticism of Chris Smalling and Luke Shaw, for which PFA chief Gordon Taylor has now waded in, another row has erupted. This time Everton football club were on the receiving end of a Roy Keane tirade. The Irishman never needs a second invitation and he was quick to suggest that Everton players need to ‘toughen up’.
One manager who must be cursing his luck and the international break, is Arsène Wenger. Arsenal have a tendency to struggle in November so the last thing the Frenchman needed was more injury problems.
Alexis Sánchez, Arsenal’s highest rated player on WhoScored this season, had barely touched down for training with the Chile national team, when he picked up a low-grade calf injury. Initial reports suggest that the forward, who has 6 goals and 3 assists to his name in the Premier League this season, will face a spell on the sidelines.
Arsenal travel to Old Trafford when the Premier League resumes following the international break, so in view of Sánchez’s likely absence, Olivier Giroud may will lead the line for the Gunners and he could come up against the aforementioned Jones, who pulled off that incredible ‘head’ tackle to dispossess the Frenchman back in May 2015.
Fantasy football implications
Fantasy managers know full well that selecting line-ups following the international break is fraught with difficulty. There are many more connotations to factor in and failure to do so can leave you with a team packed with non-starters.
Staying on top of mounting injury lists is no mean feat but it is absolutely critical, so it makes sense to reference any resources available that highlight Premier League injuries. Twitter can also provide a rich source of knowledge, with injury guru @BenDinnery very much one to follow, since he is always more than happy to provide player updates.
Try to second-guess what managers are thinking, based on what personnel are likely to be available. More managers are showing greater flexibility these days. Mauricio Pochettino was the latest to go with a 3-man defence, in the North London derby against Arsenal and Spurs are in the midst of their very own injury crisis.
Liverpool fans will be also be sweating on the fitness and availability of star men Coutinho and Firmino, ahead of their trip to St Mary’s. The duo are away on international duty with Brazil, so keep a close eye on pre-match press conferences as well for any additional clues that might signal a manager’s intentions when we get closer to those Gameweek 12 fixtures.
Do modern day footballer’s need to ‘man-up’ ? Let us know what you think.