The English Premier League Injury Crisis Deepens

AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - OCTOBER 21: (BILD ZEITUNG OUT) head coach Juergen Klopp of FC Liverpool gestures during the UEFA Champions League Group D stage match between Ajax Amsterdam and Liverpool FC at Johan Cruijff Arena on October 21, 2020 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. (Photo by Alex Gottschalk/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)
AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - OCTOBER 21: (BILD ZEITUNG OUT) head coach Juergen Klopp of FC Liverpool gestures during the UEFA Champions League Group D stage match between Ajax Amsterdam and Liverpool FC at Johan Cruijff Arena on October 21, 2020 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. (Photo by Alex Gottschalk/DeFodi Images via Getty Images) /

The English Premier League Injury Crisis Deepens with each week that passes. The international break hasn’t exactly aided in any way positive as well.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp blasted English Premier League leadership for the current and deepening injury crisis, citing the unprecedented fixture congestion, incoherent scheduling, and the baffling decision to only allow three substitutions per match while all other major leagues in Europe elected to use five.

Klopp is not, and never has been, one afraid to stir the pot if something needs saying. He’s not shy about speaking his mind either. With Trent Alexander-Arnold sidelined with a calf strain for approximately four weeks and the news coming out this morning that Joe Gomez had undergone successful surgery on a knee tendon, one has to imagine that Klopp’s inner monologue would be deemed unfit for younger audiences.

Liverpool, while seemingly hit harder than most, are not the only team in the English Premier League suffering through this situation, however.

The injury crisis deepens, so much so that it is beginning to reach biblical plague proportions.

Nothing supernatural is at work here, however. Only negligence and incompetence, if Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp are to be believed.

The sheer number of games in such rapid succession is the more logical diagnosis. With the number of European clubs and domestic matches per season sometimes reaching into the high 40’s, some players are playing almost 50 or even 60 plus matches a season when you factor in international friendlies and competitive tournaments.

That is an absolutely staggering number of games when you consider there are only 52 weeks in a year and all clubs give players an average of two to three weeks as an offseason. It’s stats like these that have Klopp and Guardiola so upset over the conditions that their players are facing.

Speaking to the media after Liverpool’s 1-1 draw with Manchester City, Klopp said:

"Everything has changed, apart from the fixture list. Usually in the season we all have an October, November and then a very, very tricky December…This year, the October is like a December, the November is like the December and December is still like December…It is completely normal we play a Saturday, it is the 12.30pm game that is a killer.Tottenham played in Ludogorets (in Bulgaria) Thursday night and today played at 12…People may like it and think it is a proper competition that gives other teams a chance, the only problem is we injured the players. (Via:"

It’s not often that Manchester United and Liverpool fans would be on the same page about anything, but in this case, the Red Devils boss, Ole Gunnar Solskjær summed up the sentiments of both fans.

The United boss said:

"The authorities set us up to fail. How can I set us up after a Champions League game, Wednesday night, in Turkey, and set us up for a Saturday 12:30 kick-off?You’ve got Liverpool and City, yeah fair play, they play against each other. They played on Tuesday, they play Sunday. Who is responsible? We’ve had enough of that. I’ve had enough.“You have to understand how these players in these times, pandemic, how mentally draining that is, how physically draining that is and they set them up like this.We’ve lost Luke Shaw because of that. (Via:"

Not all managers or fans agree, however, that the current injury crisis within the Premier League couldn’t have been avoided. The sentiment from managers like Carlo Ancelotti, Sean Dyche, and others is, put most simply, rotate your players.

Furthermore, Klopp has regularly used his substitutes, but he doesn’t always use all three allotted to him. Neither does Pep Guardiola. There are many in and outside the game that thinks this is mostly a “rich club” issue and that the playing field has been leveled, so to speak.

But even England Manager Gareth Southgate has indicated that he believes that the Gomez injury and others for players across Europe comes down to the number of games in a condensed period of time.

Liverpool Echo correspondent Paul Gorst is entirely correct. One has to ask why International friendlies are happening amidst a global pandemic that makes travel unsafe, and when Premier League players are being asked to consistently play a game every three or four days.

Player safety and the quality of the game are being recklessly endangered by those who have or had the power to do something they didn’t. Rather than impugn motives and make accusations, it’s simple enough to say that it’s disappointing in the very least that the people who had the responsibility to try and balance player safety and the quality of the game with market demands and economic concern clearly favored the latter.

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Economic concerns are valid. Football is the biggest sport on the planet. The global demand for the game is insatiable. But it is also a game played by people—incredible people with sublime talent and graft. A game played by physical specimens and children alike.

We forget all too easily that these players are human beings, who are extremely fortunate to play a game and be recompensed handsomely for it. But they have lives outside of football that obviously will be affected by the kinds of demands placed on them.

In our thirst for the game we love, we must not forget that the heroes we love to watch on the pitch need to be looked after and handled responsibly so that the cruelty of the sport, which rears its ugly head more than enough through injuries occurring in the normal course of play, is not needlessly or greedily made worse.

The solution to a problem such as this is unclear, but make no mistake: the Premier League has a real crisis on its hands. Do they alter the rules and allow five substitutions?

There are valid points on both sides of the five substitution rule: it would help with player rotation without compromising the competitiveness of the teams involved, but it is a clear advantage for teams with higher wage bills and deeper squads.

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Unfortunately for fans and players, the damage done already can’t be undone, but the Premier League leadership has an obligation to listen to managers like Klopp and Guardiola and find a solution that works best for everyone involved.