First one to make a pun on Timber going down answers to me.


This is why we can’t have nice things, apparently. After a scintillating preseason from Jurriën Timber, one good enough to make certain pundits tout him as Arsenal’s signing of the summer, he now faces an uncertain future after going off injured in the second half against Nottingham Forest. We’ll have to wait for more-certain news, but there are suggestions that, at a minimum, he’s damaged the meniscus. Worse, it’s possible that he’s ruptured his ACL. That would mean at least six months out, which would all but end his season before it even really began. Cue the tar-and-feathers brigade. Sharpen the pitchforks. Light the torches. Before we even know the severity of the injury, clearly, it’s time to point fingers.

Culprit #1: Arteta. Obviously, he should have had the foresight to see that the clumsy tackle that Timber attempted would inevitably lead to a ruptured ACL. That’s Elite Management 101, and Arteta failed. Seriously, there are some who are actually suggesting this. “We were up 2-0 at home to Forest! Why didn’t he take Timber off?” I’m not sure that Prometheus (or would it be Nostradamus?) could have foreseen this. ACL injuries are difficult to diagnose. The physios assessed him and were confident that he was fine. It was later in the second half when Timber felt something funny and had to come off.

Quick personal anecdote: I ruptured my ACL, MCL, and meniscus about ten years ago playing some Sunday league. I wasn’t doing anything fancy. I was running in a straight line, dribbling, and out of nowhere my knee just…buckled. When I went to the surgeon, he was able to wiggle my leg in such a way that my upper leg and lower leg could kind of slide side-to-side at the knee, but this wasn’t enough to prove anything. I’d need an MRI. When I explained what happened, he explained that I had probably suffered a partial tear at some previous point without realising it, and something random—uneven surface, a slight rotation of the ankle, fatigue—led to the tear. The point here is that an ACL injury can come out of nowhere without any direct, identifiable cause. After the initial injury, Timber probably felt fine, nothing worse than having rolled an ankle, and, well, here we are. It might have been nice to arrange an MRI, but very few clubs have those pitchside anymore.

In all likelihood, Timber suffered some damage during that first-half challenge. If you care to watch the clip, you’ll see his knee drop forward while his foot is planted and rotated (heel brought forward/inward, most if not all of his weight on the ball of the foot behind the big toe). That shift of the knee is probably when the injury occurred. Given Timber’s fitness, strength, and adrenaline levels, he was probably able to play through the pain (much as I did, despite not being nearly on his level at any point in my life or imagination). Just a few minutes into the second half, without doing anything special, Timber’s knee buckled, and it’s then that the rupture probably happened.

Having said all that, it’s still entirely possible if not likely that Timber’s injury is something closer to a niggle, and we’ll have to hope for that until we hear from the club. When he went down initially, Timber grabbed at the back of his thigh, as if the pain was in his hamstring. If my own experience is anything to go by, grabbing at the front of the knee (think of placing the butt of your thumb on the knob of your knee while your fingers wrap around the tibia (the big shin-bone)) is a more-natural response—but we’re really reaching here, and that’s my point.

In the absence of certainty or specificity, we’re left grasping at straws. That’s not a criticism of anyone involved. Should Timber have admitted to feeling more discomfort? Should the physios have been more thorough? Should Arteta have exercised more caution? In hindsight, the answer to all three is yes. However, anyone insisting that the answer in the moment should have been yes is mistaking hindsight for foresight.

Until we hear official news, the best advice is to hope for the best (and perhaps prepare for the worst). While Timber is out, we can console ourselves with the knowledge that we still have Benny Blanco as our first-choice RB with Tomiyasu behind him. On the left (which is were Timber was playing when he went down), Zinchenko should be back to full fitness soon. Until then, we have forgotten-man Tierney—and Tomiyasu who can play on the left as well.

We’ll have to play the waiting-game here. Until the club releases a statement, anything you read or hear will have all of the reliability of a mid-July transfer-rumour.

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9 thoughts on “First one to make a pun on Timber going down answers to me.

  1. Palladio43

    Nice explanation of the injury and how it can happen and how one might react when it occurs and after. Whether more caution should have been exercised by all parties seems obvious now, but then hindsight is 20:20 vision and what seems obvious now may not have been at the time. One would hope that the adults in the room, i.e., med staff, Arteta, and lastly, Timber might have been more cautious, but, at the time they may not have recognized what we know now.
    Obviously, so it seems, doctors should, given their training, have not allowed the second half start, but we do not know what was done initially or in the locker room to decide otherwise. With a decent lead and options in reserve, the manager had no reason to let Timber play on, although by then it may not have mattered. Timber, of course, is the loser in all this. He trusts the experts, may feel some pain, but suspects little, and lives to play, never considering it could be his last time, possibility bly for weeks, months or forever at the same level of play. My sorrow and best wishes only go out to him.

    1. Jon Shay Post author still only say that further tests are due over the next few days. I hope both for his performance as well as for his own health that it’s minor and his recovery is full – just as I do for Kevin De Bruyne, who is reportedly undergoing surgery that will knock him out of contention for four-five months.

  2. jw1

    Appreciate your detailed explanation regarding your ACL/MCL/meniscus injury Jon. While I was fortunate to have had an extremely long athletic career w/o major injuries– I have been the closest player proximate to three major knee injuries to teammates over the years. All were immediate events and devastating (as well as far enough ago to be in the dark ages of sports medicine (late-80s and 90s)). Yet all three of those players had surgery, applied themselves at rehab and therapy, and each eventually returned and were productive players for years after– two at the highest level of our sport.

    With Jurrien Timber, well first off– it’s a damn shame no matter the extent of his injury. But there are still silver linings. His game, while predicated on quickness, isn’t reliant on blistering pace. Those aspects which made him valuable to the club, should not dissipate– even if the news is among the worst diagnoses. A small sliver of light in a dark moment, yes. But something Jurrien can use to build his motivation at the outset of his long march toward returning.

    Best of for Jurrien Timber, and fingers crossed.

    1. Jon Shay Post author

      I thought about the parallels to Bellerin and Walcott, but Timber is not as dependent on pace as they were (as you mention). We’ll have to wait a few more days for more details, and a part of me hopes that the delay might suggest something less-serious and harder to detect than a ruptured ACL. Fingers crossed indeed.

      As for me, I have played football all my life, including an independent traveling team in college (we defeated a number of Division III teams), without ever suffering anything more serious than a rolled ankle. After the surgery, I was assured that I could get back to playing again – but, like Bellerin & Walcott, I was a speed merchant and knew I would struggle to play with the handbrake on, so I’ve enjoyed my retirement.

      Ironically, I managed to re-injure the knee while I was asleep last night. It doesn’t seem serious but is frustrating.

      1. palladio43

        Never try to replay one of the great moments of your youth when you scored a fabulously struck goal, whether awake or asleep. It is best to rely on your memories and how time has greatly embellished the event to where it is now a hat trick 🤣🤣🤣🤣

  3. A Simple Truth

    Jon—even your most level-headed self can’t help but twist the facts so that they might better fit your particular pro-Arteta agenda…”It was later in the second half when Timber felt something funny and had to come off”…what transpired was nothing of the sort…he left the first-half clearly favouring his knee, then pulled up shortly after the start of the second, whereas you would have us believe that these scenarios were so far removed from one another that they just might be totally unrelated, thereby removing the blame from our oft-times short-sighted manager in training…nice try, but some of us actually read your articles from beginning to end

  4. A Simple Truth

    there appears to be some chatter regarding our interest in Laporte, depending on the extent of Timber’s injury…I would imagine that we would need to properly address our lengthy list of potential outgoings before even contemplating such a move…meanwhile it looks like Chelsea are going after both Lavia and Olise, following the signing of Caicedo, all of whom would have been a good piece of business for us, especially the latter, who should have been our first priority signing


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