Manchester City provided a glimpse of what could have been in a decisive two-leg victory over favored PSG. The Blues looked well-organized, motivated and up for the fight in both legs of the quarterfinal and have justifiably advanced to the semifinals of the UEFA Champions League for the first time in club history. We have since Tuesday been told by some City fans that if Kevin De Bruyne had remained fit and other injuries had not happened, the Blues would have cruised to the league title.
When you field an aging squad and buy poorly over the course of several years you begin to experience seasons like this. That's the bottom line, and by the way Sergio Aguero has been healthier this season than in either the Blues other non-title winning campaigns since he arrived at the club in August 2011. Certainly Samir Nasri's injury didn't help the Blues but the other injuries were either to chronically injured-prone players or the type of short term issues every other club in the league with few exceptions have faced.
It is very true that Leicester City has had fantastic luck with injuries this season and the one game they faced in the campaign without N'Golo Kante they drew with West Bromwich Albion at the King Power Stadium. But Spurs have managed to cope without Jan Vertonghen for a long period of time and have also lost Moussa Dembele and Christian Eriksen for many games and have generally operated with a thinner squad than Manchester City for much of the year. Yet with a much lower payroll and a number of unproven young players they sit ahead of the Blues in the table having collected 17 more points than Manchester City in Premier League play since September 1. That Spurs run of course includes wins over the Blues, home and away.
Arsenal also sit ahead of the Blues in the league table. As usual the Gunners have had a spate of injuries. While Jack Wilshere seems to always get the headlines since he's English and perennially injured a case could be made that the injury to Santi Cazorla was the single most significant in the Premier League this season forcing Arsene Wenger to reshape his midfield completely. Danny Welbeck's long-term injury limited Wenger's options up front and the usual array of niggling injuries to Aaron Ramsey, Alexis Sanchez etc didn't help either.
The Blues local rival Manchester United have had to play a remarkable number of youth players due to injuries all over the pitch. Luke Shaw's early season injury has faded from memory but has had a catastrophic impact on the Red Devils and could be devastating for England's chances this summer. Given the open nature of this season's Premier League it is not inconceivable that Manchester United would have been much better with Shaw, and a regularly fit Wayne Rooney among others.
As for Liverpool they have a lengthy injury list that has just begun to shrink..
So every team who had preseason ambitions of finishing in the top four outside of Chelsea who have just been wholly mismanaged felt an injury bug. But some teams cope better than others. It's been since 2009 that the Premier League had imposed a limit of 25 senior players with 8 of those being "trained" in England or Wales.
Manchester City's management since Tixi Begiristain became the director of football is the real culprit in this disappointing domestic campaign. Given the resources at his disposal, the vast majority of buys from the Begiristain regime have either been too expensive or just ill-advised. Homegrown buys like Scott Sinclair and Jack Rodwell were unimaginative while the majority of continental buys just haven't been to the level of similarly priced ones in the 2009 to 2011 time period.
Lack of suitable English or Welsh trained players in the team left the club with a senior squad of only 21 players which included several aging stars like Yaya Toure and David Silva in addition the injury prone Aguero and Vincent Kompany. Handcuffed by a largely ineffectual transfer strategy, any number of injuries this club faced was going to seem disproportionate because of the poor buying and squad replenishment policy.
The squad was left undermanned more due to Tixi Begiristain and City's buying policy than injuries or any other factor. That is the painful and difficult reality of the Blues poor domestic campaign.