Following up on the highly researched, completely serious and not at all tongue-in-cheek Gulliver Theory posited yesterday by the Guardian’s Barney Ronay, we’ve come up with five more completely serious and not at all tongue-in-cheek literary-based theories as to why Arsenal pick up so many injuries.
Please note that use of these theories in academic papers or over-earnest blog posts about the current injury situation is not only welcome, but highly recommended. It will make you look super smart and stuff.
1 – The Captain Ahab Theory
Wenger’s attempts to sign French Under 19 international Ishmael Pequod should have been a dead give-away here. In the great novel, Moby Dick, Captain Ahab seeks out the white whale who bit off his leg on a previous voyage, leaving with him a whalebone falsey.
It’s a metaphor for the way that Arsenal’s seasons have been brutally undone by injury. Think of the broken legs suffered by Eduardo and Aaron Ramsey, while after the 1-1 draw with Norwich on Sunday, Wenger said that Santi Cazorla ‘played the second half on one leg’.
Cazorla is Ahab, seeking revenge in his tiny, always smiling way, on the whale that cost him both limbs, ultimately doomed to a watery death as the great creature sinks to the bottom of the ocean while he is trapped by his own harpoon.
Joel Campbell, the last man alive, floats about on some flotsam until rescued by a free transfer to Huddersfield Town.
2 – The Stand Theory
In Stephen King’s epic post-apocalyptic novel, The Stand, the world has to rebuild following the outbreak of a virus from a secret military facility. The pandemic kills off 99.4% of the world’s population, bringing about a battle between good and evil as Randall Flagg seeks to gain dominion.
The virus, known as ‘Captain Trips’, is eerily reminiscent of the problems suffered by Arsenal captain Mikel Arteta. His calf problems affect his balance, thus causing him to stumble or, indeed, trip.
It’s also highly likely that Stan Kroenke is the darkness that lurks in this world, using his wealth to build a secret underground laboratory beneath the Arsenal training ground. From time to time tiny amounts of the virus are released, this debilitating certain players, making them more susceptible to muscular injuries.
What we’re witnessing is the precursor to the end of days. Arsenal players are Guinea Pigs until Standall Flagg, dare we say it, unleashes the virus on the rest of us, leaving Robbie Savage wandering the desolate wastelands ‘M-O-O-N, that spells … er … I dunno …’
3 – The Game of Thrones Theory
In George RR Martin’s novels, nobody is safe. Your favourite character can end up being slit from belly to throat just when you least expect it.
In the Kingdom of Wengeros, the quest for the Iron Throne (Premier League), comes with many casualties. The Red Wedding is what happened when Mathieu Flamini and Mesut Ozil invited the team to their nuptials, many men were lost that day.
Arsenal are a team of Tyrions, tiny little men who consistently have the shit kicked out of them by oafs, ogres and bullies. Even their own version of The Mountain, Per Mertesacker (The Tree), can’t protect them.
Aryan Ramsey has to survive with his tiny Needle, set upon by Roose Bolton Wanderers, while Jack Wilshae is forced to sell his body for medicine.
Ultimately, they’re all Littlefinger because that’s the only bit of them not broken.
4 – The Catch 22 Theory
Arsenal get a lot of injuries, thus are reliant on a smaller group of players. Lacking the depth to rotate properly, those players are more likely to succumb to problems based on fatigue and over-playing, and thus spend time on the sidelines. The previously injured players come back but because there are other players out injured, they’re over-played and get injured, just in time for the other injured players to return and take their places but because there’s little in the way of rotation they end up getting injured again because they’re playing too often. So when the other players find some fitness again … and so it goes.
5 – The Ulysses Theory
Arsenal are one of the richest clubs in world football with fantastic resources. They have a supremely intelligent, deep-thinking manager at the helm. They have state of the art training facilities, the best equipment, highly qualified medical staff and the best in sports scientists.
They have invested heavily in data, performance management and the latest technologies when it comes to treatment such as weightless treadmills, cryo-pools and more.
A veritable glut of new staff have been recruited, including Head of Performance Enhancement Shad Forsythe and a number of new specialised physios, strength and conditioning coaches, muscle mavens and fitness experts. Yet still, season after the season the injury situation never gets any better.
Like Ulysses, it’s f**king baffling.
Feel free to chip in with your own theories below.