The Gunners are by far the most injury-affected Premier League team this whole season, and in my opinion, that is a key factor in their doubtful performance, being eliminated from Champions League and at the present time, in fifth place in the Premier League. Fortunately, they’ve managed to reach the FA Cup final in which they’ll face Hull City, and winning that tournament is a must in order to have a respectable season.
Returning to the injuries issue, the Gunners have been suffering from them since the very beginning of the season in the middle of August. For example, Mikel Arteta missed the first five weeks due to a thigh injury, and Nacho Monreal the first one (back injury).
Moreover, midfielders Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (knee ligaments) and Lukas Podolski (hamstring) got injured in August and they came back after three months (Chamberlain) or two and a half (Podolski).
Other long-term injuries that the Gunners suffered were: Aaron Ramsey (thigh, out from December 26 to April 5, more than three months), Yaya Sanogo (back injury, from September 9 to February 11, five months), Santi Cazorla (ankle, five weeks out between September and October) Thomas Vermaelen twice (two and one month, back and calf injuries respectively).
Furthermore, they’ve got many middle-term injuries (between one and three weeks): Laurent Koscielny (knee, two weeks out in December), Nacho Monreal (foot, three weeks out between February and March), Tomas Rosicky (three times, thigh and knock twice), Jack Wilshere (twice, both ankle injuries, in November and February), Bacary Sagna (twice, both hamstring, in October and December), Chamberlain (calf, one week out in March), Kieran Gibbs four times, Nicklas Bendtner twice, and so on. You can see the full list here.
In the last match against Wigan, seven players were out due to injuries: Wilshere, Gnabry, Özil, Rosicky (all midfielders), Walcott (striker but he usually plays as an offensive midfielder in Wenger’s scheme), Koscielny and Abou Diaby (cruciate ligament tear, he got injured in March 2013 and has been out of the pitch for more than one year). And that big number of players out isn’t a thing of the last match. It’s the common thing in the Arsenal 2013/14 season.
Anyway, I show these facts in order to give a correct panorama of the situation. It’s true that the Gunners faced many competitions in the season, but other teams did too and they didn’t have so many injured players.
The point is that, in my opinion, a team cannot fight for a title like the Premier League or Champions League with those injury problems. And it’s not about having a large squad in order to have a good replacement of the injured players.
If your players got injured all weeks, you would never have a definite lineup, and that’s very important in order to win trophies. The players must know their partners, and having more or less the same lineup in all matches in the same tournament is the best way to achieve that (it’s impossible to play with the same lineup in all the competitions, because it’s very physically demanding and the players would get injured for sure).
Now, Arsenal players and their manager Arsène Wenger have to focus in the present, think about how to defeat Hull City in the FA Cup final, and also about getting the fourth place in the Premier League in order to qualify for the next Champions League. But when this season is gone, they’ll have to contemplate how can they avoid having so many injured players in the next season and solve that problem. Otherwise, I believe that they can’t win either the Champions League or the Premier League next year.
Fortunately for Arsenal, Wenger knows the problem and doesn’t underestimate it, as he said a few days before: “Our main task [next summer] will be to keep the team together and think where did we go wrong. There are a lot of positives in our season as well, but we have dropped off when we lost our players at an important moment of the season. That is what we don’t want to repeat.” (source: http://www.espn.co.uk/football/sport/story/298835.html). And that’s what all Arsenal fans hope for next season.