What if we had our injured players available?

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about what I perceived as a general mediocrity in this year’s La Liga campaign.

I personally feel that many teams have underperformed, including Barcelona, Valencia, and Villareal. As I got to thinking, it occurred to me that all of the above teams have suffered from horrendous injuries to key players.

Barcelona lost Samuel Eto’o, arguably the best striker in the world, for the great majority of the season, as well as less influential players such as Gio Van Bronckhorst and Silvinho, Valencia have gone large periods of time without the services of Del Horno, Marchena (a hugely underrated defensive bulwark), Edu, Baraja and Vicente (as usual), all first team players, and Villareal face(d) the loss of Arruabarrena (whom they have really missed), Pires (who showed what he could have done all season with his goal against Barcelona), Riquelme (in odd circumstances, but a superb and inspirational player), José Mari and, last but not least, of the talented Nihat Kahveci.

So, my question is the following: which teams do you think have been worst affected by injuries, and what might have happened had certain players avoided treatment?

  • Would Watford have stayed up had Marlon King been fit for the whole season?
  • How different would Chelsea’s title challenge have been had Terry and Cech avoided their respective injuries?
  • Has Dean Ashton’s absence contributed largely to West Ham’s demise?
  • Is Tottenham’s laughable defensive record in the main attributable to the consistent absence of talismanic skipper Ledley King?
  • Would Fulham’s season have been greatly improved if Bullard had never been injured?
  • Would Newcastle have escaped mediocrity were it not for their injury problems, particularly if Michael Owen were to have been fit?
  • Would Manchester United have faired better over two legs if Neville, Rio, Vidic and Saha were fit for both Milan games?
  • Would Arsenal’s season have tailed off like this with Henry and van Persie fit?

Your thoughts please.

I understand that this list is hugely Premiership-ocentric (quite a neologism indeed). I’d be happy to hear from Championship and football league fans, as well as foreigners! For example, what’s going to happen to Derby in the play-offs without Giles Barnes? (please sign him Spurs!).

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