With games coming thick and fast this season, both at club and international level, injuries seem almost inevitable, and this past weekend was no exception.
Matchday five’s slate of Premier League games saw some key players go down with injury — most notably Liverpool’s defensive stalwart and arguably the best central defender in the world, Virgil van Dijk — while some were not able to feature at all, having returned from international duty with various nicks and agitations.
With that, here’s a rundown of the major injuries affecting Premier League clubs at the minute, with my added insight into severity, return timelines, and other key factors to be aware of.
Arsenal centre-back Rob Holding was scheduled to start for the Gunners vs Manchester City but picked up a hamstring injury during the warm-up. It’s reported that Holding may miss three to four weeks with the injury which potentially indicates a grade two hamstring tear.
The key concern following a hamstring tear is the risk of re-injury, particularly for a player in Holding, who is likely to still be dealing with compensatory injury risk from his ACL repair, having ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament of his left knee in December 2018.
Liverpool suffered a double impact of key injuries vs Everton over the weekend. Firstly, Van Dijk was scissor tackled by Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford (who avoided a VAR red card during the match, adding more gasoline to the ‘VAR use needs to improve’ fire) with Liverpool confirming the Netherlands international has damaged multiple knee ligaments — the most severe of which is a grade three full rupture of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) — and will undergo surgery.
Since Virgil van Dijk made his Premier League debut for Liverpool, he has played 98.6% of all available PL minutes and appeared in all 95 possible games.
This is completely new territory for Liverpool. 😳 pic.twitter.com/dY2fjxETo1
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) October 18, 2020
The club are yet to announce a return timeline and will likely wait to do so until after surgery when the full extent of damage is known. Typically, elite footballers return in 7-9 months following ACL repair but that timeline can be extended depending on if key structures, such as meniscus or other major ligaments like the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) are damaged.
To that point, Aston Villa’s Wesley Moraes had an injury similar in mechanism to Van Dijk and was found to have damaged three ligaments and his meniscus; resulting in a lay-off that is roughly 10 months and counting.
For a more detailed look at Van Dijk’s return timeline considerations and career implications, I made this video:
Secondly, Liverpool’s new midfield maestro Thiago Alcantara was on the receiving end of a studs-up challenge from Richarlison, which resulted in the Everton forward picking up a red card. Although Thiago saw out the final few minutes of the Merseyside derby, the after-effects of that challenge have been felt.
The Spaniard came out much more fortunate than his Dutch teammate as Thiago is reported to have avoided major injury, and although he will miss Liverpool’s Champions League clash vs Ajax on Wednesday, he isn’t expected to miss much time after that.
Reigning PFA Players’ Player of the Year Kevin De Bruyne departed from international duty early with an injury to the thigh, according to Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola. The most common thigh injury for footballers is the rectus femoris quadriceps muscle.
The team is being very cautious with its superstar, planning on holding De Bruyne out for one to two weeks. It’s the right move from a risk/reward perspective as thigh muscle injuries are easily irritable in the early stages — even if mild — and the player is simply too important to City’s high aspirations to risk missing significant game time.
Chelsea’s latest acquisition — goalkeeper Edouard Mendy — reportedly suffered a thigh muscle injury while training with Senegal and was unavailable over the weekend. However, Mendy has now returned to training with the Chelsea first team but is unlikely to be risked for Tuesday’s Champions League match against Sevilla.
Dynamic striker Jamie Vardy missed the Foxes’ match over the weekend with a calf concern that the medical and training staff deemed to be too high risk to play with, and potentially risk an over-tear in the muscle.
Calf issues are — according to manager Brendan Rogers — something Vardy has dealt with for some time now. Considering the condensed schedules and the amount of running Vardy puts in on a game-to-game basis, it doesn’t surprise me to see these soft tissue issues popping up again.
On a scale of much higher severity, centre-back Caglar Soyuncu suffered a grade three full adductor tear that allegedly ripped right off the bone. He faces roughly three months on the sidelines as a result.
Midfielder John Fleck will reportedly miss four to six weeks of action due to landing hard on a pinpoint spot on his back. He was due to play against Fulham over the weekend but will now miss considerable playing time for the Blades. Based on the hard contact mechanism of injury, this may potentially be a stable vertebral fracture (a bone in the spinal column).
Lastly, promising left-back Max Lowe suffered a concussion (aka mild traumatic brain injury, mild-TBI) after taking a hit to the head. He has entered Premier League concussion protocol which typically lasts 7-10 days.
Dr Rajpal Brar, DPT, is a physiotherapist, movement and mindfulness coach. He runs the LA-based wellness and athletic development/performance clinic 3CB Performance, and you can subscribe to his Youtube channel (which posts analyses of Lionel Messi and more) by going here.