Chelsea has a strong reputation among the premier league for its low injury rate. This is largely due to the club’s strong training regime, where the emphasis is on long-term fitness. The facilities are also the best available, with major investment by the club over the years in medical and scientific support for its players, in the forms of knowledge and technology.
Nevertheless, studies show that overall there is a steady rise in injury numbers across all premier league teams. This is in spite of increased levels of fitness and improved treatment and support. With clubs playing in both domestic and European leagues, there is greater pressure on players and so a higher risk of fatigue and injury. Overall, the game has also become more demanding. It’s been said that where 50 years ago top footballers would run on average three miles in every match, the average is now six. As a result, more footballers are missing matches, costing clubs millions of pounds. These injuries are generally either contact injuries or soft tissue injuries, with 40% of the latter being hamstring injuries.
The state of the art medical support at clubs like Chelsea, including physiotherapy and biotechnology, means that players get the best treatment available and are able to be back in action as soon as possible. As such, they have the advantage over non-professional players, who could find they suffer severe and long-lasting setbacks in their personal lives and careers because of an accident on the pitch. Many in this position would need to make a legal claim for a football injury to secure anywhere near the same level of treatment.
With 25 players in the first team, Chelsea can of course cope with a few injuries; however, when one or more key players have to miss a match this can heavily influence the Blues’ chances. Recently the defence and midfield have suffered a series of blows, with John Terry’s ankle injury, Branislav Ivanovic suffering a knock during a Serbian International, and Cesc Fabregas out of action with a muscle injury. The Spanish midfielder had his nose broken twice last year, and suffered a broken leg while playing for Arsenal in 2010.
Most dramatically, Kurt Zouma suffered a horrific injury against Manchester united back in February, causing him to miss the end of the 2015-16 season and Euro 2016 due to a ruptured anterior crucial ligament in his knee.
He is expected to return to action at the end of October. Marco Van Ginkel was due to be loaned to PSV Eindhoven this season, but is still at Chelsea recuperating from his persistent knee injury. His first season at Chelsea in 2013 was cut short due to injury, and he’s had recurrent problems since.
Chelsea is a well-oiled machine that works best when all of its players are fit and healthy. The club does its best to ensure this is the case throughout the season. Nevertheless, injuries will happen, especially at the beginning and mid-point of the season, leading to calls for a winter break similar to those enjoyed by most European clubs. Whether this will ever happen remains to be seen.