Ranking the 10 Injuries That Had the Biggest Impact on the Premier League Season
Injuries come part and parcel of any football club's season, a circumstance often based on good or bad fortune as much as anything else but which can have a dramatic effect on the campaign of any outfit.
It's the manner in which a side deals with their squad absences that often dictates how a season fares, with some teams adapting better to the changes in personnel than others.
The 2013-14 Premier League term was once again influenced heavily by these injury blows, with Arsenal's Theo Walcott even having his World Cup hopes torn asunder as a result of his mid-season misfortune.
Ranking the top 10 most influential injuries of the current campaign, here we count down some of those most hurtful blows, with the teams competing for title honours and relegation, respectively, taking precedence.
But as we'll see, there were ramifications that emerged from across the board.
All injury details and figures come courtesy of Transfermarkt.
Sergio Aguero, Manchester City
Were Manchester City not the proud owners of one of the most devastating attacking line-ups in Europe, Sergio Aguero may well have found himself making our top 10, but as things are, Manuel Pellegrini has been well able to deal with his absences.
When he's played, the Argentine has been prolific, bagging 17 goals and 10 assists in the 22 fixtures he's featured in, but the likes of Edin Dzeko, Alvaro Negredo and Yaya Toure have succeeded in picking up the slack—and then some.
Asmir Begovic, Stoke City
One might think that at the Premier League standard, sides are well able to deal with the temporary absence of their first-choice goalkeeper, but Stoke City struggled for results during the five-game spell missed by Asmir Begovic.
Mark Hughes' side have lost 14 Premier League games this season, more than a third of which (four) came over the New Year period, where Thomas Sorensen and Jack Butland failed to live up to the Bosnian's stellar standards.
The Potters have been easily saved this term under Hughes' new regime, involving a greater focus of playing in possession, but Begovic is one piece of the puzzle detrimental to maintaining their old defensive gluttony.
Matija Nastasic, Manchester City
It's not just the first names on the teamsheet who make for impacting absences, and Matija Mastasic was prevented from taking the next step in his Manchester City development thanks to a calf issue, shortly followed by a more serious knee injury in February.
While not Pellegrini's most talented centre-back, it was noticed when Nastasic's cover wasn't available, with Javi Garcia having to shift into defence while Martin Demichelis couldn't partner captain Vincent Kompany.
10. Jose Enrique: Knee
2013-14 Premier League Appearances: 8
The one positive of Jose Enrique's minuscule appearance record this season is that's it's paved the way for Jon Flanagan's growth in becoming a top-quality full-back, but that doesn't mean the Spaniard hasn't been missed.
The official Liverpool website reported in November that Enrique was expected to be out for 10 weeks after electing to correct an existing knee issue with arthroscopic surgery. Six months later and the defender is yet to make his return.
Liverpool's Premier League title chase has been mainly due to solid and consistent scoring, with defence sitting as their weakness if there was one to be picked. Had Enrique been available more regularly, one might argue that their goal difference would look more agreeable.
9. Robert Huth: Knee
2013-14 Premier League Appearances: 12
Stoke City have gone without the talents of Robert Huth for the vast majority of their season, having seen the German pick a knee injury in November that required surgery.
In February, Huth attempted to make his return in a friendly for the Potters, but Sky Sports confirmed a month later that a second operation would be required, ruling the defender out until the 2014-15 campaign.
In the 12 games Huth did manage to start, Hughes' men kept four clean sheets, giving them a ratio of 33.3 percent. The 25 fixtures in which he's been absent have led to just five more clean sheets at a ratio of 20 percent.
Although mid-table is far from the most heated section of the standings, the Potters may well have been able to make a run further into the top half of the table with a healthy back line.
8. Jan Vertonghen: Toe, Ankle
2013-14 Premier League Appearances: 23
Tottenham have found no great forte in attack nor defence this season, scoring 52 goals after 37 games but conceding 51 in what's been their leakiest term since 2007-08.
Jan Vertonghen's ability to adapt to the Premier League was an inspiration last year, and the Belgian was fully deserving of his Team of the Year honours.
However, it's mainly a toe injury picked up in December that has frustrated the versatile defensive totem this time around just when Spurs have been in direst need of arguably their more consistent talisman.
Although the North Londoners have dropped just 13 points when Vertonghen has been out of their squad—as opposed to 30 with him starting—his ability at centre-back and left-back when needed is a valuable asset which would have undoubtedly helped push Tim Sherwood's men further in the race for a top-four finish were he more present.
7. Christian Benteke: Achilles
2013-14 Premier League Appearances: 26
Although he's missed a third of their season, Christian Benteke remains Aston Villa's top scorer after netting 10 Premier League goals in his 26 appearances, Andreas Weimann and Leandro Bacuna the next highest with five apiece.
And that gulf in scoring numbers shows just how desperate Paul Lambert has been to have his scoring marvel present and accounted for in the team, with the rest of his strikers some way off by the Belgian's standards.
Having taken 38 points from their 37 games thus far, Aston Villa will retain their Premier League status for another campaign, but just three more points would have been enough to ease them as high as 12th.
That's the equivalent of turning one of Villa's 1-0 defeats this term into a victory or, perhaps more realistically, grabbing victory from a couple of their eight draws, which one would certainly argue might have been within Benteke's grasp.
6. Vincent Kompany: Groin, Hamstring
2013-14 Premier League Appearances: 27
The first 13 matches of Manchester City's season saw captain Vincent Kompany play just 283 minutes of Premier League football, conceding seven goals during the nine games in which he didn't feature.
The Citizens have lost three league games in the 10 fixtures Kompany hasn't played a part in, signifying just how essential he is to their title push when one considers they've suffered the same amount of defeats in the 27 games he has played.
5. Mesut Ozil: Hamstring
2013-14 Premier League Appearances: 25
His £42.5 million arrival at the Emirates Stadium was heralded by some as a new way of things for Arsenal, but Mesut Ozil's maiden season in the Premier League has been more disrupted than Arsene Wenger will have wanted to see.
While one might argue as to what he offers tracking back, Ozil has created more scoring chances than any other Arsenal player, per Squawka, and he's one of those key players the Gunners have had to deal with missing for periods of this term.
Arsenal's most damaging streak of results just so happened to coincide with a stretch for which Ozil was absent.
Between March 25 and April 15, the North London outfit won just two of their six league outings before then establishing a three-match winning streak upon his return to the side.
4. Theo Walcott: Knee
2013-14 Premier League Appearances: 13
Like the aforementioned Benteke, Walcott's 2014 World Cup dreams have also been eradicated as a result of the ruptured cruciate ligament suffered during the FA Cup third-round win over North London rivals Tottenham.
The Gunners will have been laughing along with Walcott as he was stretchered off the pitch with a 2-0 gesture, but the four months' absence and the misery that has come with it perhaps aren't as comical—to them at least.
The 25-year-old has, in the past year or so, really begun to thrive as one of Arsenal's senior attacking figures, and his time out has led to others having to be played out of position. Wenger's unwillingness to conduct business in the winter market meant that the blow was far from ideally timed as well.
So, not only has Walcott's knack for setting up and creating his own scoring opportunities gone astray, but it's meant that others haven't been able to do their regular jobs with as much comfort, ultimately playing a big hand in the club's fall from title contention.
3. Robin Van Persie: Groin, Hamstring, Knee
2013-14 Premier League Appearances: 20
Far from the astronomical highs of his first season at the club, Robin van Persie's second season at Manchester United happened to coincide with David Moyes' miserable regime.
Some argue that were the Dutch striker more readily available for the Scot, Moyes may have at least lasted the season at Old Trafford. But alas, those were the cards dealt.
And what an unfortunate hand it turned out to be as United lost just two of the 17 league games with RVP in their starting line-up, suffering defeat in six of the 17 league displays he missed altogether.
Four of Van Persie's 12 Premier League goals this term have come in results which ended in draws or were decided by a margin of just one goal, showing a propensity to score in clutch situations which may have gone a long way in bettering the campaign.
2. Daniel Sturridge, Ankle
2013-14 Premier League Appearances: 28
With Luis Suarez absent through suspension at the beginning of the season, Daniel Sturridge was reliable in plugging the Uruguayan's scoring void at Liverpool.
And the favour was returned over the course of December when torn ankle ligaments meant that Sturridge was forced to watch on from the sidelines.
The England international has made 28 Premier League appearances this season as the Reds have gone above and beyond in challenging for top honours, losing just three games while he's been on the teamsheet.
And his importance to the side was evidenced during his injured spell, where the club managed to amass the same amount of defeats in the span of just eight Sturridge-less games.
As they head into the final game of their season, Liverpool are two points away from leaders Manchester City, and had Sturridge managed to stay fit and help turn just one of those defeats into a victory, they may have found themselves still in the driving seat.
1. Aaron Ramsey, Thigh
2013-14 Premier League Appearances: 22
It's true that no one man is an island, but had injury not once again blighted the path of Aaron Ramsey this season, Arsenal may have found their 2013-14 Premier League title push last far longer.
The North Londoners will arguably never have an opportunity like this again, with Manchester United adjusting to the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson, Chelsea and Manchester City taking on new helmsmen and Gareth Bale's exit from Spurs creating some disarray.
It's a chance they were gripping with two hands—that's until the winter months started to groan on and injuries took their toll.
Ramsey was forced off with a thigh strain in the Boxing Day win over West Ham and was enjoying his best season in Gunner colours to date, having scored eight goals and made five assists at that stage.
And his engine-room presence was in an area of the pitch that Arsenal might consider to be quite shallow, making it all the more vital that their first-choice options are of a certain standard.
Ramsey played in all 18 league games of Wenger's season up until his major injury, winning 12 of those fixtures for a victory percentage of 66.6. In the 14-game stretch he missed halfway through the campaign, that ratio dropped to just 50 percent, with the club winning seven matches.
Again, the winning ways would become more prevalent when Ramsey returned to fitness, and the likes of Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea may have had a fourth name to contend with for the title this late on in the campaign were Ramsey not ruled out for so long.