Well there we have it for another year, the 2012/13 Premier League campaign is finally over with the title once again taking pride of place in the Old Trafford trophy cabinet. Granted the season finale may not have had the drama and excitement of a Sergio Aguero injury-time winner to clinch the title, but nevertheless it had its moments. From biting (a peckish Luis Suarez), to bog-roll (think Â£50 and Liam Ridgewell), from the sensational (Michu debut season) to the sublime (Juan Mata 11 goals and 13 assists) the Premier League still had plenty to offer... and of course who could forget the Welsh Wizard himself Gareth Bale, this seasons Player of the Year!? A man who on occasions singlehandedly carried his Spurs side to within a whisker of Champions League qualification.
For Manchester United the signing of Robin van Persie (26 goals and 10 assists) proved pivotal, with many believing his arrival was the difference in tipping the scales. The reality, Sir Alex Ferguson's men epitomise the sheer essence of consistency. Their stats proved very similar to last season, in fact on paper they fared slightly worse, scoring less goals (86 / 89) and conceding more (43 / 33) but no-one could match the level of performance over 9 months to stay with them. United cantered to a historic 20th League title securing the Championship in April, this year's drama was amongst the sides at the bottom.
At the beginning of April, up to ten teams were at risk of possible relegation with the bottom half of the table remaining a closely fought contest. Fulham in 10th place on 36 points were easily within touching distance of an Aston Villa team occupying 18th on 30 points, the scene was set for the end of season run-in. QPR and Reading were long since forgotten about and the challenge was to avoid the third and final spot - Newcastle, Wigan, Stoke, Sunderland, Norwich, West Ham and Southampton were all conceivably on the brink of Championship football next year.
The cup proved a welcome distraction for Newcastle (Europa League) but injuries and fatigue were beginning to take their toll. The geordies had progressed well, but their league form was suffering and it soon became evident they would struggle to secure the wins needed to stay up. A change of manager at Sunderland brought a much-needed lift on Wearside, Martin O'Neill departed with Paolo Di Canio steering his new side to a derby victory at St James Park. While Gabby Agbonlahor and Christian Benteke grabbed those all-important goals to help keep Paul Lambert's Aston Villa side in the Premier League. However come the final round of fixtures, the dream was over for Roberto Martinez and his gallant Wigan team, who only days before had won their first ever piece of major silverware. They will go down in history as the first side to win the FA Cup and be relegated in the same season.
The grand total spent on injured players.
Newcastle United lost the most days to injury this season.
Hamstring problems remain the most common muscular injury accounting for almost half of all those reported - 49.3%
There was a significant increase in the number of joint injuries recorded this season - 197 compared to 101 in 2012/13 almost double!
Southampton had the lowest average numbers of days lost to a muscular injury at 21, the figure represents one of the lowest recorded in a season.
Calf Injuries account for just over a fifth of all muscular injuries at 20.8% while those with a groin problem closely followed with 17.9% of all those reported
In a huge turnaround of fortunes Manchester City lose 954 days to injury, an increase of over 500% compared to last season!
September had the highest injury incidence rate of the season with 61 separate problems recorded in the month, whereas surprisingly December showed the lowest 0.46 per game.
The average number of injuries per club has increased from 20.5 (2011/12) to 24.4 which reflects a 19% rise in the total number of days lost through injury across the Premier League.
Despite playing 69 competitive games this season Chelsea have the joint lowest number of reported injuries (16) and the second lowest number of days lost to injury (565).
Of the bottom six sides only Reading (882) and Sunderland (865) lost less than 1000 days due to injury and were below the total average of 945 days. Aston Villa (1225) and Wigan (1281) were amongst the worst.
Southampton were the only Premier League side not to suffer a hamstring injury
Swansea only lost 6 players to muscular injuries all season, one of the lowest in the Premier League. However their average of 37 days recovery was one of the highest, second only to Everton (53 days).
Of the total number of days lost to injury (18897) over 30% can be attributed to knee problems. Around a third of these days were due Anterior Cruciate Ligament damage (1884).
West Ham United
Tottenham Hotspur missed out on qualification to the UEFA Champions League by just one point although goal difference would have been a factor. Supporters can pinpoint one specific poor run of form from mid-October last year when the The Lilywhites took just three points from five Premier League games. Fixtures which did include the likes of Manchester City, Arsenal and Chelsea but arguably a home tie against relegated Wigan Athletic should have produced points on the board - the result a 1-0 defeat! Just how much of a factor was the loss of Moussa Dembele due to a hip problem? Spurs lost a total of 8 Premier League games last season, of those games the Belgium midfielder was missing for 5 of those, substituted in 2 and played only one 90 minute game #influential
Wigan Athletic finally relinquished their Premier League status after 8 seasons in the top-flight and Roberto Martinez can consider his side very unlucky in terms of injuries to key personnel. Of the total number of days lost to injury (1281) 46% occurred to players within the defensive third while the loss of Antolin Alcaraz (178) to groin and hamstring problems impacted most. The Lactics manager may also take a moment to consider the losses of Maynor Figueroa (groin), Gary Caldwell (hip) and Jean Beasejour (hamstring) which contributed to the joint worst 'Goals Against' column in the league.
For Newcastle United who were hoping for another successful campaign the season started badly and didn't seem to get much better. Losing Ryan Taylor in August to an ACL injury was a blow , while boss Alan Pardew will point to the absence of their creative spark in Hatam Ben Arfa (140 days) and Yohan Cabaye (62 days) as the reasoning to why the Geordies were amongst the leagues lowest scorers. Combine that with Steven Taylor (77 days), Fabricio Coloccini (114 days) and Tim Krul (116 days) and its easy to see why only three teams conceded more. One area of concern though will be the amount of hamstring injuries Newcastle suffered by far the worst in the Premier League, more than 50% against the next team on our list. Of the 23 muscular injuries this year, 13 were afforded to the hamstring, 410 days out of a total 683 - that's over 60%!
The post-mortem at Manchester City began long before the end of the season as Roberto Mancini and David Platt went their separate ways with two games remaining. But what of the club who last year boasted not a single hamstring injury coupled with one the best injury incidence rates ever recorded. With the total number of days lost (954) representing a 500% increase The Sky Blues have struggled this term keeping players fit and on the pitch. Losing Micah Richards for 172 days to a knee injury had a massive impact, in his seven games this season City have kept five clean sheets and that followed shut-outs in over 40% of the 29 games the defender was involved in during 2011/12. In addition captain Vincent Kompany (59 days), Jack Rodwell (148 days) and Maicon (158 days) contributed to the sizeable increase in traffic to the treatment room over the past nine months.
Chris Morgan and his team at Liverpool have had an unusual flurry of shoulder injuries this season with the Merseyside club contributing to over a third of the Premier League total (36%). Historically shoulder joint issues play a relatively minor part overall but the injuries to Steven Gerrard, Fabio Borini, Joe Allen and Brad Jones this year show an increase to around 5.5% (from 4.0%) with joint injuries increasing by an enormous 95%. Knee (69) and ankle (65) problems respectively have the highest reported incidence rates accounting for 68% of all joint injuries.
And finally, what end-of-season review would be complete without the mention of Champions Manchester United who provided the perfect send-off for Sir Alex Ferguson. Overall a much improved injury performance has contributed to a twentieth title, reducing the total days lost by around 40% (1088) and cutting the number of reported injury incidents by 25% to 27. Although a slight concern would be the high number of hamstring injuries (8) in comparison to the overall number muscular problems (11) which translates to a league high of 73%. Of those Nani spent a total of 67 days on the treatment table while Jonny Evans suffered three separate issues (50 days) and Anderson contributed 43 days back in December.