Coming into this weekend’s fixtures, there had been 78 muscle injuries in the Premier League, a 42% increase from this time last season. Over the weekend, Thomas Partey and Trent Alexander-Arnold were added to the list. Mikel Arteta, Jurgen Klopp, Pep Guardiola, and other mangers have pinned the blame for the rash of injuries on insufficient rest and the decision to revert to three substitutes a match.
The Premier League clubs voted before the season to scrap the five substitutes rule that had been in place during the restart despite permission from FIFA and IFAB to do so. That decision raised eyebrows around Europe. All of the other major European leagues and both the Champions and Europa league kept the expanded substitutes in place.
According to BBC Sport, the clubs have considered the five substitutes rule twice this season and both times the proposal failed to get the required 14-club support. There seems to be momentum among the bigger clubs to take another stab and reinstituting the rule, but there has yet to be an official proposal.
Said Arteta before Arsenal’s match against Molde last Thursday, “I would strongly support [bringing back five substitutes] because we are here to give the best possible show at the end of the day.” He went on to point out that the players aren’t getting enough rest, in part because they play international football during the breaks and the summers and that injuries are going to continue until something changes.
The Premier League managers are also unhappy with the weekend kickoff times for matches following European games midweek. Both Manchester United and Tottenham played at noon following late-night, actually early-morning, returns from far flung midweek matches. The rules mandate teams have two days off between matches, but once teams have had the required time off, broadcasters can set kickoff times as they see fit.