Football Nerd: How Premier League's suspension could negate season-deciding injury problems

Daniel Zeqiri
Tottenham Hotspur v Crvena Zvezda - Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London, Britain - October 22, 2019 Tottenham Hotspur's Harry Kane celebrates scoring their fifth goa - HANNAH MCKAY/REUTERS

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Here is an extract from this week's Football Nerd, giving you a taste of what to expect.

Those supporting the argument that the season must be completed at any cost are fond of claiming the 'integrity' of the Premier League must be preserved.

The integrity of this season will be unavoidably compromised however, by the number of injured players who would have missed the closing stretch of the campaign but could be fit when football resumes. Given the human, social and economic cost of the coronavirus pandemic such concerns are frivolous trivialities, but interesting to consider nonetheless.

Tottenham Hotspur are the most obvious beneficiaries from the delay, with Jose Mourinho on record as saying he could not wait for the season to end such were their injury problems. Heung-Min Son and Harry Kane faced an uphill battle to play again this season due to a broken arm and a hamstring injury, likewise January signing Steven Bergwijn after straining ankle ligaments.

All three key attackers could be available if the season is completed in June and July. Opponents who have already played Tottenham twice would undeniably have an advantage over those who have not, but there are no perfect solutions to this unprecedented problem.

Graph showing which clubs benefit from the Premier League suspension

Key injuries were looking like defining the race for Champions League football and the Europa League places, with Chelsea and Manchester United missing 13 first-team players between them when football was suspended just over a fortnight ago.

Frank Lampard's squad were badly creaking, with N'Golo Kante, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Tammy Abraham all suffering recurring problems and setbacks as they tried to return to full fitness and Mateo Kovacic limping off against Liverpool in the FA Cup. Christian Pulisic was also yet to return from injury and Ruben Loftus-Cheek a long-term absentee.

United did not have the same quantity of injuries, but were thriving without their two most talented players. Paul Pogba had barely kicked a ball since the autumn while Marcus Rashford has now been granted extra time to fully recover from a stress fracture to his back.

At the bottom of the league, Bournemouth's chance to recuperate could be bad news for Watford and West Ham in the two places above them outside the relegation zone. Eddie Howe's team had a horrendous spate of injuries this season with eight first-team players absent when the season was paused. Defensive stalwarts Steve Cook and Simon Francis could be back, while all Bournemouth fans will be praying David Brooks finally gets a clean bill of health.

Elsewhere, Everton fans could get their first sight of central midfielder Jean-Philippe Gbamin since August while Arsenal's luckless left-back Kieran Tierney could be back in contention. Both were substantial purchases last summer, but could be like new signings this.