Newcastle hit hardest by punishing schedule

By Nick Mashiter, PA

Newcastle were hardest hit by the Premier League’s punishing festive schedule, losing seven players to injury.

Managers have constantly lashed out at the fixture list with some clubs having less than two days between games.

Data supplied by Premier Injuries to the PA news agency showed the Magpies came off worst, with Bournemouth, Chelsea, Liverpool, Norwich and Southampton also suffering.

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Premier League clubs with most injuries Dec 21 2019 – Jan 2 2020.
Premier League clubs with most injuries Dec 21 2019 – Jan 2 2020.

The Magpies lost five players – Jetro Willems, Javier Manquillo, Jonjo Shelvey, Fabian Schar and DeAndre Yedlin – to injury during their 3-0 New Year’s Day defeat to Leicester.

It was the second time Manquillo had been injured having previously suffered a hamstring strain while Paul Dummett was already missing with a groin problem which forced him off in the 1-0 win over Crystal Palace on December 21.

“Asking players to play four games in 10 days is ludicrous and today is the consequence of that,” said Newcastle boss Steve Bruce after the loss to the Foxes.

Newcastle manager Steve Bruce has been frustrated by injuries (Martin Rickett/PA)
Newcastle manager Steve Bruce has been frustrated by injuries (Martin Rickett/PA)

“I was concerned about the number of games but we could have lost five players today. Three of them are hamstrings and one (Jetro Willems) is a groin, while DeAndre Yedlin has broken his hand, we think.

“I didn’t have the bodies to make changes as we had four or five out anyway.”

Bournemouth lost five players during the festive programme – from December 21 to January 2 – while Chelsea, Liverpool, Norwich and Southampton lost four.

Aston Villa’s survival hopes were also hit on Wednesday when striker Wesley and goalkeeper Tom Heaton suffered knee injuries in their win at Burnley.

They were both due to have scans on Thursday and there are growing fears Wesley could miss the rest of the season.

  • Newcastle suffered the most injuries (eight), followed by Bournemouth (five) and then Chelsea, Liverpool, Norwich and Southampton (four).

  • Hamstring injuries are by far the most common, accounting for more than a third of the 53 festive injuries (19, which is 36%).

  • Leicester made the most changes to their line-ups overall (18) with three more than anyone else.

  • Watford made the fewest changes on average with just one per match.

Wolves and Burnley suffered no injuries with Nuno Espirito Santo’s side continuing their fine injury record, despite having now played 35 games after starting their season in July in the Europa League qualifiers.

The Portuguese labelled their fixtures as absurd after they had just 44.5 hours to recover from their stunning 3-2 win over Manchester City on December 27 before facing Liverpool, eventually losing 1-0.

“I’ve never seen (a situation like) playing games against tough teams with 45 hours between games,” said Nuno. “It’s going to be very tough. Of course, it goes against everything – it’s absurd. There’s no explanation.”

Wolves escaped injuries over the festive season but Nuno Espirito Santo was critical of the congested programme (Nick Potts/PA)
Wolves escaped injuries over the festive season but Nuno Espirito Santo was critical of the congested programme (Nick Potts/PA)

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola, who only lost Nicolas Otamendi to injury, also criticised the Premier League and broadcasters following the defeat at Molineux.

“I don’t have any confidence about that. They don’t care,” he said, when asked if he would like to see the Premier League change and look at player welfare.

Hamstring problems are the most common and account for 36 per cent of the 53 festive injuries in the Premier League.

Leicester made the most changes to their line-ups – 18 – three more than anyone else while Watford made the fewest changes on average.

New Nigel Pearson averaged just one per match with the struggling Hornets winning 10 points from the 12 available.

For more information visit http://premierinjuries.com/injury-table.php

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