Injuries can, of course, be a mere misfortune – a bad tackle, an improperly timed move – but they can also be cumulative.red zone. “However, this is not the only consequence of fatigue. Even if injuries are avoided, performance can decrease.
This should give Solskjaer and Manchester United in particular a break. United captain Harry Maguire has played 3,946 minutes this season, an order of magnitude more than any other outfield player in England. He has played the equivalent of five full games more than his closest rival, Leicester’s Youri Tielemans this season.
But Maguire is not alone. United have seven players who have played more than 2,700 minutes this season. Leicester and Everton have only one, Chelsea have two, and Spurs and West Ham have three. Even Liverpool, whose options are limited due to all of these injuries, only have five. If fatigue turns out to be a factor, then it’s more likely that the core of United’s squad is affected on the last stretch than anyone else.
To some extent, this is, of course, offset by his resources: Solskjaer has options in the event one of his key players fails or suffers an alarming loss of form. Having to play Donny van de Beek because Bruno Fernandes needs a break shouldn’t be a big sacrifice.
Indeed, this could be the formula that more than any other defines the next two months and serves to find the signal in this season’s noise. More than any other season, the final prize on offer in the Premier League goes to the teams who can best minimize the effects of fatigue, thanks to a reduced workload or the ability to ski in depth. In all this chaos, there will be some kind of order in the end.