The Premier League is special. Not just because it’s the most competitive league in the world, but also due to its unique festive fixture tradition wherein, around Christmas and New Year, all teams have to go through a gruelling fixture congestion.
Such is the impact of this tradition that Pep Guardiola stated that the festive fixtures were “killing” his players and it is, indeed, backed by statistics. Last year, according to injury data analyst Ben Dinnery, injuries in the month of December 2017 went up by 32% as compared to previous months.
Unfortunately, Chelsea are beginning to feel the effect of this fixture congestion as the Blues have now lost their third attacking player, Olivier Giroud, to an injury in the last two matches.
“Giroud’s problem is his ankle. We have to wait for tomorrow. In the past days we were a bit unlucky. Yesterday in 10 minutes we had three injuries. Fabregas, Loftus-Cheek and Drinkwater. Then today, Giroud, and we were without Pedro and Hudson-Odoi.”
-Maurizio Sarri; Source: football.London
In Chelsea’s win over Watford, we lost Pedro and Callum Hudson-Odoi to hamstring injuries in the same match. While Callum’s injury was not that serious, Pedro was ruled out for 10 days.
As Sarri points out, Chelsea’s midfield is also ravaged by injuries picked up by Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Danny Drinkwater and Cesc Fàbregas. That makes it a total of six injuries with three being in attack and three in midfield.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek has been training but he is struggling with a back problem. He's had the problem a while but isn't able to run freely at the moment #CFC— CarefreeYouth (@CarefreeYouth) December 30, 2018
Fortunately, most of these issues are not severe injuries which would keep these players out for a long time. In midfield, we still have four great options in the form of Jorginho, Kanté, Barkley and Kovacic.
However, we can’t say the same about out attacking options. With Pedro, Hudson-Odoi and now Olivier Giroud out injured, Willian, Eden Hazard and Morata are the only fit attacking option in the squad. Victor Moses is in the mix, but he has not featured for Chelsea since the back injury he suffered in November.
As aforementioned, none of these injuries are severe. The issue is the time at which they’ve arrived. With these players being out for most of these festive fixtures, our fit players will have to be played more than anyone would have liked to, leading to them being exposed to a higher risk of injuries.
The impact of these injuries were evident from Sarri’s substitution during the Crystal Palace game, where the Italian subbed off Willian and replaced him with Emerson. That was likely an attempt to give Willian as much of a rest as he could afford to give.
We have to keep in mind that we are only halfway through the fixture congestion, and our attack has been reduced to its bare bones. And so, we hope Giroud is the last one to enter our medical department, especially with key matches in the League Cup and FA Cup next week.