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Is Fixture Congestion Causing Unnecessary Injuries?

Monday 25th September 2017
As Arsenal's Danny Welbeck will be out for yet another extended period with a groin injury, is it time to re-consider the fixture congestion clubs struggle with throughout the early part of the season? Most clubs are playing at least twice a week and is this just too much?
If we take Arsenal as a key example, most of their squad played some part in the international break that bored us all in the opening week of September. Add in six games across the Premier League, a Carabao Cup fixture and the Europa League and it's been a busy old time for the Gunners and their unusually shallow first-team squad. Wenger doesn't have the quality or numbers to rotate for every game at present.

Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur are similarly afflicted as their continental aspirations continue to clash with the domestic competitions at this early stage of the season - it might be too much for some, quite frankly.

Whilst City and United have impressive squad depth with two players, at least, for every position; Chelsea are looking rather vulnerable when compared to last season and Spurs are a law unto themselves as they persist with the 'on-a-budget' skeleton crew approach - something that cannot be advised with so many games to play, training to factor in and internationals on the horizon yet again.

The question could be asked as to whether the players are suffering from 'over-fitness' as Danny Welbeck has been accused of this in the past. If the England striker is in peak physical condition, his muscles are likely to be more vulnerable than a less athletic player such as Wayne Rooney - funnily enough, the bulk of Welbeck's injury troubles have been muscular but Arsenal simply will not introduce more rest days for the former Manchester United attacker.

The congested fixture schedule is almost certainly to blame as more exertion on the pitch and on the training ground will continue to put players at risk of injury. It doesn't necessarily mean contact injuries are more likely, that tends to depend on the opponent, but muscular issues and suchlike are far more likely to happen.

Take Zlatan Ibrahimovic as an example to contrast with Welbeck's tribulations. The big Swede played a lot of games last season as United suffered from congestion throughout the year and his hyper-fit body gave out on him in the Europa League semi-final as his ACL tore under stress of over-extension.

As one of the fittest athletes in the game, Zlatan has spent little time in the medical room of any of his former clubs and you have to ask if that is down to more relaxed schedules in the Continental divisions. Cristiano Ronaldo is probably the pinnacle of football fitness and yet he so rarely succumbs to injury in La Liga, do you see where this is going?

The heavy-duty fixture list scuppers English clubs and should be scaled back to prolong player's careers and prevent the heightened risk of nasty injuries - whilst the games will remain very intense and fast-paced, less in a short time frame will ease the obvious pressure on players and managers alike.
Kristian Webb
A Manchester United fan who actually knows where Manchester is; I'm the chief writer for AccumulatorTips, ForzaSwansea and a contributor to WhatCulture's video game section. I'm a professional proofreader, content author and SEO Expert but that doesn't mean there won't be the odd grammatical error!

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