Prior to signing Mario Balotelli, Liverpool were in desperate need of a new striker. Why? Because Daniel Sturridge is injury prone and will inevitably miss a sizeable chunk of the 2014/15 campaign at some point.
Or will he? I’ve looked at the injury stats on the physioroom website to try to put into context how often he (and the rest of Liverpool’s squad, where possible) pick up knocks, niggles and strains.
Before we get to the figures, here are the inevitable caveats. The figures here are very much just to be viewed as a guideline, and not a robust statistical assessment. In terms of comparing the players, it’s fair to say that there are massive discrepancies in the sample sizes too, which is far from ideal.
This is a simple analysis, so I can’t take account of how or when a player gets injured. I will be using the number of games that a player has played for Liverpool, and whilst playing for a team in the top flight of English football, when in reality they could get injured on international duty, playing for the reserves or in pre-season, or away from football entirely; who can forget when Fabio Aurelio crocked himself whilst playing on the beach with his kids, for instance?
It’s also important to remember that some injuries are obviously far more serious (and even career threatening/ending) than others, and I have not taken account of that here either. This is a look at how many first team games it takes for a player to pick up an injury on average, not how many they missed through injury; thanks to loss of form, rotation and tactical choices by managers, players can miss games whilst being fit and healthy to play anyway, so it would be hard to account for that here.
Finally, as physioroom.com only covers the Premier League I have been unable to include Liverpool’s recent recruits who have only played overseas, and the players are sorted below by their injury rate for all teams, not Liverpool. Please also note that the figures are correct prior to the start of the 2014/15 season.
Perhaps part of the reason that Lovren has been brought in is that he doesn’t appear to get injured as frequently as Sakh0 does? The Frenchman would need to play a further forty-three games without picking up a knock before he could match the Croatian’s injury rate.
It’s no surprise to see Daniel Agger near the top of the chart, and his fellow Daniel, Mr Sturridge, also features highly. Notice how the striker has been injured more frequently for Liverpool than across his career as a whole; presumably this is down to more starts and fewer substitute appearances.
If Balotelli has been signed in-part to cover for Sturridge then it’s not good to see that he suffered injuries for Manchester City at a very similar rate to his new strike partner has across his career.
Moving down the table, it’s interesting to see that Adam Lallana does not appear to be as injury prone as his reputation suggests (at least in relation to his new team mates), and considering the speed and volume of running that Sterling and Henderson do respectively, their injury records are to be admired. Lucas’ presence at the bottom illustrates how this is based on number of injuries without any consideration of how serious they have been.
As my starting point for this was Daniel Sturridge, I thought it’d be interesting to see how he compares injury-wise to other top Premier League strikers of recent years.
The Liverpool number fifteen is at the top end of the table, and don’t forget that he’s averaging an injury every 4.9 games for the Reds too. I also thought I’d look at how Liverpool’s managers since the summer of 2002 have fared with injuries to their squad.
Brendan Rodgers is the only manager here to pick up more than one injury per game on average, and I have to say, that surprised me; on the whole, it hasn’t felt like Liverpool have been especially injury-prone during his tenure. Perhaps the injuries have been mostly minor, or it could be that more are reported these days and so find their way into the physioroom database? Whatever the reason is, if Liverpool are to have a good campaign then they’ll need to sustain fewer injuries, particularly to their key players.
To finish, a look at a breakdown of the types of injury that Liverpool have suffered over the past twelve years.
The biggest culprit has been knees, and the likes of Lucas Leiva (who suffered the most serious kind of knee damage) and Daniel Agger (who has sustained knee injuries most often, on six separate occasions) can both lay claim to being the most affected victim.
If the career injury rates are to be believed, then Daniel Sturridge is due to pick up another injury any game now; watch this space…