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PhysioRoom’s Most Significant Injuries of the Season So Far

As this season’s final international break of any real significance begins to disappear from our rear-view and the bountiful pastures of the Premier League roll back in to view, PhysioRoom thought it an appropriate time to ponder some of this season’s most significant injuries.

It may be over-egging things to say trophies can be won and lost as a direct result of something as innocuous as a hamstring strain, but certainly an accumulation of ailments or a long-term injury to a star player enters the territory of starting to swing the pendulum.

And we need look no further than last season for the exception that proves the rule, as Antonio Conte’s Chelsea marched to the title with a treatment room so bare, that visitors on one of John Terry’s Magical Mystery Training Ground Tours, having been promised real life footballers to look at, felt understandably short changed.

Who knows, one stray kick to Eden Hazard’s ankle, a rough tackle on N’Golo Kante, and we could be sitting here talking about Spurs as a genuinely big club.

That’s why we’ve decided to pick out some of this season’s more intriguing injured players, and asked what could the consequences be of their continued absence, as well as what a return might do for their team.

To begin, we’re going to look at Paul Pogba, not only because he’s one of the best midfielders in the league, but because ‘Man Utd’ and ‘Paul Pogba’ rank really highly in all that SEO business.

But let’s ignore the trappings of our increasingly technology focused lives and talk about some footballers with sore bits, shall we…

 

Image via Reuters/Jason Cairnduff

Paul Pogba

Jose Mourinho said (29/9/17):

“He’s injured, he cannot play and it’s not an injury that I can have the hope like I have with Antonio Valencia or Phil Jones,” said Mourinho.

“I have the hope to see them in training and to have a positive answer, so long-term injuries I don’t speak about them. So Ibra [Zlatan Ibrahimovic] and Pogba and Marcos Rojo, these players I don’t think about them.”

It’s always hard to decipher comments from Mourinho, as while the above quotes might indicate a significant amount of time on the side-lines for the Frenchman, the vagueness of it all has some conspiracy theorists suggesting this is all an elaborate rouse and Pogba will be lining up against Liverpool on Saturday.

While we don’t doubt that Mourinho toys with the media regarding injuries, the France midfielder does look set to be out for a decent chunk of time, with some even speculating a 2017 return may be too soon.

The truth is, no one really knows, but what we do know is that he hit the ground running this season after a disjointed, inconsistent 2016/17 following his world record move from Juventus.

The stars had previously all aligned this season; no more transfer fee scrutinisation, the signing of Matic enabling an unleashing of his attacking talents, it was all in place for him to have a tremendous season.

But this mystery hamstring strain has put a stop to that for now, with United almost certainly set to feel his absence in the coming weeks as their fixture list becomes markedly tougher.

Matic may be the anchor, the main cog of the midfield, but Pogba is the lever, he ensures all the cogs turn in unison, and gives Mourinho’s team another level of fluidity they simply don’t have when he’s not on the pitch.

 

 

Image via Reuters / Andrew Yates

Ross Barkley

Ronald Koeman said (7/9/17):

“He was open to making a move to another club and I heard from the board that there was an agreement between Chelsea and Everton.

“But finally the decision was by the player. And that was what happened at that time.

“Of course, the player at this time is injured and it will take another two or two-and-a-half months before he is available.

“So I don’t need to take that decision now and I can wait and see what will happen. Then we will see what the decision will be at that time.”

Thanks to the timing of his injury and the plethora of new arrivals at Goodison Park, you could be forgiven for forgetting about Ross Barkley.

Out with a thigh injury all season, the homegrown Evertonian’s pre-season consisted of trying to secure a move away from The Toffees, but a reported change of heart during a Chelsea medical, and a telling lack of interest from Spurs meant the midfielder remained among Ronald Koeman’s squad.

With question marks over his commitment due to the whole “I really, really don’t want to be here anymore” thing, it’s easy to overlook just how much Everton could have used Barkley in these opening seven fixtures.

Suffering from a stunning lack of pace thanks to a transfer strategy that consisted of “errrrrm, buy me every slow no. 10 you can find!”, Barkley, while not possessing searing pace, at least would have added some sorely lacking direct running and urgency to their so far turgid play.

Sure, sometimes that direct running is straight in to an opposition defender to be tackled, but Barkley is capable of the unpredictability that Everton are sorely missing right now.

Barkley is expected back sometime in mid to late November.

 

 

Image via REUTERS/Phil Noble

Benjamin Mendy

Pep Guardiola said (29/09/17):

“We can’t replace him. In the way he plays, the way he goes up and down you can’t. We have to do it in a different way.

“Nobody in the world has his energy, his mood on the pitch in the locker room. We have to try to replace – but we have other qualities in other players and we have to find a balance among the other ones.”

Eyebrows were raised and teeth were kissed when Pep Guardiola insisted Manchester City spend £52million on a left-back, especially so soon after the £50m spent on the opposite flank in the shape of Kyle Walker.

But the opening salvos of the Premier League season proved, if only with a small sample size, that the Spaniard was completely justified in the outlay.

Walker and Benjamin Mendy are the final pieces of the Manchester City puzzle, the missing sprinkle of yeast in Pep’s total football loaf.

It has to be said, never is a full-back ever more ‘full’ than when playing in a Guardiola team, but it also means the position requires special players with certain skill sets to pull off.

And that’s why when Mendy dropped to the turf against Crystal Palace back in September with an ACL injury, hands started to wringing among the City faithful as the realisation dawned that while they had bought a top quality left-back, they had only bought one of them.

The true effects of the Frenchman’s injury have yet to materialise in any tangible way, leaving the likes of traditional central-midfielder Fabian Delph and the primarily right-sided Danilo to cover.

But as the season trudges on and the three games a week schedule really kicks in, his long-term absence will invariably be felt.

Mendy is expected to return some time around April 2018.

 

 

Image via Reuters/Craig Brough

Adam Lallana

Jurgen Klopp said (29/09/17):

“Adam is completely normal, that’s how it was from the first day [of being injured] – how we thought it would be. He is now outside running and obviously improves a lot.

“He has no problems anymore. We just have to wait until the tendon is a tendon again, if you want.

“You cannot rush this. But so far, no setbacks and everything is fine.”

There’s a theme developing among our significant injuries, which is that they are all vital in making their respective teams tick, as well as click.

And Adam Lallana, who ruptured his thigh in August, is yet another example of player who when his team has him, they reach another level of fluidity. And without, they miss one or more vital components of their play.

On the ball Adam Lallana is paradoxically both very un-English in the traditional sense, but also very representative of where the English game is going in terms of developing players, in that he is solid if not spectacular, tidy of both mind and feet and very much a ‘link player’ as Gareth Southgate called him.

And nowhere is this more witnessed than in Liverpool’s prowess without the ball, the old Gegen press.

The England midfielder slips seamlessly in to Klopp’s plan of heavy metal football by being both hard working off the ball, then quick in transition when back on it, the keys to the German’s strategy.

A lot has been said about Liverpool’s defence this season and rightly so, but it’s worth reminding ourselves of the old ‘defend from the front’ attitude which Lallana contributes towards immensely, meaning he’s been a massive miss so far this campaign.

Adam Lallana was last known to be heading to Qatar to see a specialist to continue his recovery.

 

 

 

Author: Chris Coates | @Coates_17