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What a difference one player makes, or not?

By Walter Broeckx

So the word has been spoken by some: Arsenal still are a useless bunch of players. And have a clueless manager.

Yes we have won 0-3 at West Ham but this means nothing. We shouldn’t even celebrate this win as in fact it is a loss. We should see it as a loss.  We got the 3 points but that is just a bit of a masquerade. And why you ask?

Everybody knows we only could win against West Ham because their best player was not available. I mean Scot Parker. And how lucky we have been that he couldn’t play. Otherwise we would have lost the game. That is obvious and everyone who doubts this is someone with rose tinted glasses on his nose.

But is there any truth in the assumption that a West Ham with Scott Parker would have won the game? So I thought it would be interesting to see how good this Scott Parker really is. I’m not saying he is a poor player but does he makes such a big difference for his team? Is it him who turns their team from a low league table team into a team that turns in to a team that can beat any other team in the world?

So I checked the statistics of West ham and I found: 23 games played, won 4 games, draw 8 games and lost 11 games.

And then I checked the statistics of Scott Parker. And I must say he looks rather a healthy player. As in the 23 games they played he played 21 of them. So he played 91% of the games for West Ham. So one thing is for sure : he is an important player for West Ham.   When he is fit, he plays.

But the question is not if he is important for West Ham. No, the question is if West Ham with Scott Parker has more chance of winning games than without him.

So in their 4 wins he was there. And also in their 8 draws he was there. So if you stop it here you could say: see, he makes them win and draw more games.

But then how can you explain to me that in those other 11 games West Ham lost, this most important and game changing player that Scott Parker is played in 9 of them.

So how come that West Ham lost those 9 games with Scott Parker in their starting line up? If he makes such a difference for them they surely should have won or draw these games. But they lost the game with him on the field.

Oh my dear, their goes another theory of us being lucky that  Scott Parker was not available and that this is the reason we won the game. Just, by a small margin, by a lucky bounce of the ball.

West Ham have only won 4 games this season with Scott Parker on the field. And 9 games they have lost with him on the field. So spare your breath to argue that it all would have been so different if we had to face Scott Parker playing for West Ham this weekend. It didn’t make any difference those other 9 defeats.

Why do some of our fans always have to take away the credit of our own performances? Why do they always are looking for excuses to tear us down?

Why can’t they say: hey Arsenal had 66% of the possession of the ball. And look Arsenal had 13 shots on target compared to 6 of West Ham. And look Arsenal had 6 shots off target against only 1 for West ham. And Arsenal had 10 corners and West ham only 4. And Arsenal scored 3 goals and West ham scored no goals at all.  So well maybe Arsenal was a bit stronger than West Ham could be a conclusion.

But I think this is just a bit to simple for some people. No, they say Arsenal was lucky that Scott Parker didn’t play for West Ham. So they are telling us that Scott Parker on his own would have scored 4 goals against Arsenal. Scott Parker would have had more than 16% possession of the ball himself during this game. And he would have had about a dozen shots on target and maybe another 10 off target. Resulting in some 10 corners.  Yes, that looks like the Scott Parker who has lost 9 games with West Ham this season.

So, I’m not saying that Scott Parker is a bad player for West Ham. And maybe he is their best player. I really cannot tell this because I have only seen West Ham play 180 minutes in a season. But to say that just this player is the difference between us winning 0-3 and us losing this game is a bit silly if you look at how many games West Ham have lost with him on the pitch.

I enjoyed the game, the win, the way we played. And maybe not all was perfect but this is football and in football nothing is perfect. I just would advise some people to just enjoy a game we win. It makes life more fun, it really does. But if you want to be unhappy even when we win, be my guest but don’t come spoiling our good mood after we have won a game with clear score line.

The Stadia Series is complete (at least for the moment).  Here’s the index

On Arsenal History we are starting an analysis of George Allison, a man associated with the club from 1906 up to 1947.

And if you really want something eccentric try this

28 comments to What a difference one player makes, or not?

  • RedGooner

    I see what you are saying Walter and agree 100% he wouldnt have much of a difference to the game.
    Not like Cantona made to Utd or Ronaldo for that matter either, but 1 player can make a difference to some teams just not westham well NOT since Tevez scored that contreversial goal to keep them up a few years back. Maybe they could get him on loan again 🙂

  • Phv

    Don’t be ridiculous ! Even Le Grove knows that our best starting 11 ( the one that played against Chelsea but maybe diaby instead of wilshere and vermaelen instead of koscielny) is the 3rd best in the world after Real Madrid and Barcelona. The problem is the 5-6 players that hold us back.They bring laziness to the team.They constantly show no effort in matches (Walter and Tony should be criticizing them for that) and some(not all) of them are not good enough as well.We can’t play with Theo van Nasregas all season.They will get injuries and we will struggle.I recently read one article from Le Grove and the author says that Lansbury should be playing instead of Denilson.Now you can see that this is not the Buy,buy,buy policy you were thinking they had in mind.You can see that from last season and this season lansbury is hungrier than Denilson and shows a lot of quality(maybe statistically not as much as the Brazilian).We want desire from our players and not complacency and laziness.

  • bugo dan

    Nice walter.I always enjoy your articles.

  • Sammy The Snake

    This is life and life is not perfect! Football’s just a part of it.
    I’ll be OK if Arsenal weren’t perfect in every game, but still collected 3 points!

  • Dark Prince

    Hmmmm…this is like if we ask ourselves whether Cesc makes a difference for us or not.

    I remember writing an article on this here on Untold on whether Cesc or Van Persie’s absence has any effect on our results. And i remember that, according to those stats, they actually didn’t make a big difference. But the point comes when you actually look at our performance when Cesc doesn’t play, and you can see the difference.

    Its the same case for West ham. Parker is the heartbeat of that team. Remove him and West ham will fall apart. I’m not taking away credit from Arsenal for their fabulous victory but the absence of Parker definately helped us.

  • tahsein

    fantastic article!this is the only place which talks sense and where i can speak my mind!

    LONG LIVE UNTOLD!

  • joey

    what a load of shit

    Comment removed for mindless abuse. The house rules are that you can argue against any comment here, but the key point is “argument”. A mere statement of what is perceived to be a fact, combined with a collection of abusive words doesn’t count as argument.

  • Byo

    I have been pondering a question for a while. Not totally related, but….Can anyone address this?
    What would have been the repercussion in the press if it was AW that signed (a) BEBE? I see the British press got bullied by Ferguson when they tried to ask the question earlier this season.

  • Superfly gunner

    Dark prince

    According to my recollection of those 2 articles with cesc we won 58% of all games with out I think it was 61% so the difference was negligible.

    specially since Nasri is performing and any one from midfield to the 3 forwards can score the team gets stronger every day and I’m glad we dont need to rely on one player.

    Not to say cesc isn’t class he is but just beacause some people rate him so highly doesnt mean the rest of the team is shit it takes a team to win.

  • C4

    @Dark Prince
    I get your point. I still think that looking at the stats, we dominated so heavily that I doubt Mr. Parker would have really made such a huge difference.
    Even when we play without Cesc or Van P, our posession etc doesn’t suffer too much, it’s usually the ability to break down the defense that’s lacking. We dominate almost every game we play, what’s often the issue is not taking chances offensively, and / or defensive errors.
    I think with Scott Parker in the game, it might have been 3-1.
    Maybe.

  • Superfly gunner

    Byo good question about BEBE.

    People dont realize how hard Arsene works he is involved in every single part of arsenal from top level management to scouting, to youth team to the first team, charities, tactics, finances, protecting players from the press you name it he does it.

    I have often wondered if he ever sleeps I dont think I’ve ever seen a coach so involved in scouting for young talent or even the youth teams.

    I know that there are those that will argue that he should just focus on the first team but if that was the case where would we be and where would our future be. Its fine to spend big and hope and if u do or dont win trophies sooner or later the banks come calling anyway.

    There are people working behind the scenes in all these departments at arsenal and other clubs but the difference is Arsene take a active interest in all all of them.

    This man is freaken Arsenal through and through and the saddest day for me will be the day he retires I’m just glad I lived in an error where I got to see Ronaldo as well as Henry and the invincibles play and Wenger Coach.

  • Wonderful Van Persie how great it was to see an Arsenal centre forward running about controling the ball couple of tricks hope Bentnor and Chamach were watching. And well done Archavin had a poor game but gave 100% us Arsenal supporters are easily pleased just like to see them try.

  • Yommex

    I stumbled upon this blog not too long ago and bookmarked it immediately. I’ve been trying to read through all the previous articles as much as I can. I must confess that I’ve taken to the blog and usually come back like 5-6 times daily. Hopefully will be chipping in some bit over time but for now content to read the articles and comments. You guys are doing some nice job. Keep it up!

  • gooner80

    westham are just a poor team the score could have been 5-0 scott parker has a mean free kick so maybe it might have been 3-1 I doubt he could have changed the result but may be he could have affected the score line. injuries suspensions happen when chelsea or man u beat us with missing players no one cares we didnt do something to scott parker. if arsenal went 2-0 up against barca at the nou camp who knows what might of happened these things happen. a win is a win we are in a good position and now the media are banging on about man u being the invincibles all the pressure will be on them every game they remain unbeaten and we are slowly creeping up on them,they are drawing more and more games . even if they did match our record their team could not compare and everyone knows who the true invincibles ARE

  • ugandan goon

    there is an assumption common among all punters(and pundits) that they know a bit about what they are talking about, it is rarely the case!
    two things have struck me this weekend, it was obvious to me that stewart robson had some sort of script where because of what had happened at ipswich, arsenal would be caught out by a ball over the top. so he spent the whole match criticising the arsenal defence especially a certain mr. eboue, it was quite telling that in the middle of one of his monologues, the victim of his ire was clearly seen superbly tackling on his feet dribbling carlton cole and zavon hines and calmly passing the ball on to his midfield, did it stop mr robson, did it fuck? it hurts to know that this sod picks up a check for co commentating on ATVO.
    the other thing was that west ham are dirty, the antics of another arsenal ex player, mr. boa morte seem to have gone largely unnoticed and yet this is precisely why our most important players are out during important games, why are we slating our own when the boa morte’s of this world are there begging for it. then how many niggly fouls and blatant dives did they get away with?
    sorry to do this but the one incident of note was djourou protecting the ball and cole climbing and generally raping him then stealing round to try and intercept a back pass to the goal keeper, all criticism aimed at djourou- letter of the law- never give advantage when a defender is being fouled in the box- outcry against the ref for this bit of bottling- there was none.
    p.s i am sure scott parker is fantastic,but lets not forget that he was among the many that left perfectly decent clubs to chase the abramovic coin, it blighted their careers and brought wage inflation to the rest of us, so you wont find me giving two figs about someone like that.
    p.p.s. i saw a goal scored by ibrahimovic this weekend, there is a shot of him celebrating with flamini the funny thing is you get the impression the team spirit is as weak as a cuppa in prison, i only bring it up b’se flamini left us for pastures greener(not!) and ibra obviously thought he made all the difference!

  • Dark Prince

    C4- you cant really say how the result would have been if Parker had played. He played against us at the Emirates and they nearly got away with a point. So it could have been a possibility for a different result if he was there, though most probably Arsenal would have been favourites to win.

  • Rhys Jaggar

    Walter, I read nothing after the Arsenal West Ham game saying Arsenal were useless.

    One of the tactics of low-blow journalists and politicians is to make smearing insinuations without having the balls to name the miscreants.

    As you’re always going on about how superior your attitude is, perhaps you’d be a professional and put the weblinks in to show who said what you claim that they said.

    Then you’d be acting like a proper journo mate.

  • Dark Prince

    Superfly Gunner- those stats which i had given was only till 2010, i.e it did not reflect the results of this year. And Nasri has evolved this year. So u can imagine those stats were pretty interesting comin to the conclusion that Cesc really didn’t make a massive impact especially when Nasri wasn’t at his best, Van Persie used to be injured, on even Walcott didn’t used to be as effective. Still we used to have a decent win%. But the naked eye can see that Arsenal’s playmaking abilities used to be a very average level without Cesc. Its a different case today as even without Cesc, we have many players who have evolved and are dangerous.

    Comin on to the topic, There is a slight similarity in West Ham’s team and Arsenal’s team of last year. Not in terms of quality but the fact the Cesc used to be the main Heartbeat of Arsenal (i still believe he is, but we have many dangerous players now), in the same way Scot Parker is the main heartbeat of West ham. The stats wont prove this much as it is in the case of Cesc, but the quality of West Ham’s playmaking drastically reduces when Parker is missing.

  • diba

    Dark prince the game would have ended with a higher scoreline even
    If they had Messi playing not just Parker. Granted Parker is their hearbeat
    But certainly not in same breathe at Cesc. Parker is an average player
    Cum star in a poor team. If there was anybody they missed who could have
    Influence the score line it was Obinna. The context of this article is to
    Show that we played so well that who they missed was irrelevant and would never
    Have changed the outcome. Given your insight of the game it is evident for you
    To concur rather than make a case over nothing.

  • Dark Prince

    @diba- you should read my post again. Neither have i said that the outcome would have been different if Parker was there nor did i say that Parker is as talented as Cesc. I’ve only disagreed with what the topic is – what difference does a player make?? I think it makes a lot of difference for West Ham whether Parker played or not. Their midfield was virtually non-existant during that match. It shows how much they need Parker and how much he influences their Midfield. Remember that Parker played in the West ham match at emirates and although they played defensively, Parker played a major role. Thats why it does make a difference.

  • Andrew Chua

    To be fair, I have not come across any sites that claimed that Arsenal was useless. Even the oft-critical sites were in praise of Arsenal, though a number did warn of complacency and to need to maintain consistency. The GK issue, I sensed, have been put to rest, though the CB, DM(cover) and striker issues still evoke heated debates.

  • GoonerVance

    I love it…So to combat one extreme you go to another extreme. Well played Walter, as if Arsenal fans don’t believe that the loss of Eduardo (one player mind you) didn’t cost us the League that year. But if one player can’t affect one game, how can the loss of Eduardo affect an entire season. Oh noes…I see many faults in your logic.

  • LRV

    Rhys, Did Walter snatch your woman in a previous life? Get off your high horse and let the rest off us enjoy what we read. Your crusade to undermine Walter has overun its course. Time to stop as it is now becoming extremely silly.

    Carry on with the good job Walter.

  • critic

    it will be a saddest day in arsenal history when lord hangs his coat….

  • critic

    ways i think it is irrelevant article, agree with it, but their was no need to publish it.
    only fools and WHU fans will say we didn’t deserved the win.

  • Gooner Gal

    Scott Parker is definitely one of the better players at West Ham, but I agree and support the main point Walter is making here. There seems to be a willingness to devalue the win and over emphasise the absence of West Ham personnel rather than acknowledging it was a good performanceby Arsenal, especially RVP.
    West Ham knocked Man U out of the Carling cup this season 4-1 without Parker in a convincing manner. You could substitute Green instead of Parker if he hadn’t been on the pitch etc. I believe Arsenal are the best team in the league, europe, world ( you get my drift) and would of beaten WHU even if they had fielded a team with a fully fit Noble, Upson, Green, Obinna, Piqinonne & Parker in it. Also I too believe Obinna is now their best player and would of been a bigger threat to us than Parker.

    On a side note, I agree with LRV, Walter I think your favourite blog commentator has gone off his meds again – it’s a shame because he was doing quite well for a while.

  • gandiv

    Good Morning all, Can i divert you to the below link:
    What do you think?
    I must say we have lacked the leader and I cant say denilson is wrong at all and must agree 100% with the article:

    http://arsenal.theoffside.com/team-news/denilson-will-be-criticized-but-what-if-hes-right.html

    Looking for a Leader?

    I’ve been saying that Denilson hasn’t done anything of note all season. Well, he has now.

    Denilson gave a recent interview to Arsenal Brasil. I’m not sure exactly how recently the interview was given, but it has to have been pretty recent because they specifically talk about the Wigan match, which was only a couple of weeks ago.

    It’s a pretty rare interview in that it’s so long, and unedited — unlike the 90-second, heavily-edited interview excerpts we get from Arsenal TV Online, this is just a guy sitting down and talking about anything and everything for almost 25 minutes. In what looks to be someone’s bedroom with a sheet nailed to the wall. But I digress. And before I forget it, kudos to the interviewer, who really asked some good, tough, insightful questions.

    Anyway, let’s get right down to it. You can watch the entire interview in its entirety over at Arseblog, and it’s pretty good. But here’s the money quote, the one that’s going to make all the papers tomorrow. The following exchange happened:

    Interviewer: It is widely said that Arsenal lack leadership on the pitch, for example, the incident with Ramsey, if you look at what happened with Eduardo before. We were very close to the title, and after I spoke to Gilberto he told me it really had an effect on the squad, but in the Ramsey incident, you could see that it was different. Sol Campbell was the man who went there to motivate the players. So my question is, do you think we lack that leadership on the pitch?

    Denilson: I think that we lack leadership, and without leadership we cannot move forward. You can walk forward a bit, but then the same that’s happened will happen again. Those are things that happen, that make us very sad indeed. But I don’t see a player at Arsenal who is a real leader. I can’t see a single one. Even if Fabregas is the captain, he is not a leader to me. It does not depend on the player’s age or experience, there are players who’ll walk on the pitch and will show that leadership, but that’s something of the personality of the player, he was born with that. So today, not only Fabregas, but the important thing is that everyone is talking to each other, everyone understands each other, that is what is helping us this season. And the results are coming, little by little, but they are coming, and we’re second or third in the league table, so we have to keep it that way, always talking to each other, always working hard in training, that’s the only way things can work out.

    Interviewer: So you think we lack a leader, for example Gilberto Silva?

    Denilson: For me Gilberto is a leader, he is surely.

    Interviewer: So you think we need a reference, a guy like Sol Campbell?

    Denilson: We do, we do. A leader is always important in a team.

    Interviewer: Today, who are the closest to leaders in the squad?

    Denilson: I can’t see one.

    Interviewer: There isn’t then a person who’ll take the responsibility to himself?

    Denilson: I can’t see that.

    Now. Your immediate reaction to this may have been one of the following things:

    1. Why the frak is he saying this publicly?
    2. It’s classless and disloyal to throw your captain and everyone else in the squad under the bus like this.
    3. Who is he, the guy who can’t even be bothered to run back on a counterattack, to criticize anyone else?
    4. If he thinks leadership is so important, who doesn’t HE try to step up and provide some of that?
    5. Even if he’s right, how is this helpful?

    And I wouldn’t disagree with any of these. And I suspect this will be the reaction of most Gooners today. However, after the dust settles and anger fades, we may have to face the disturbing possibility that he may be absolutely, positively, 100% correct. Because the thing is, this isn’t Balotelli, who says something seemingly calculated to offend in every single interview. And watch it for yourself, that isn’t taken out of context — the interviewer certainly cannot be accused of trying to trick him into saying something he didn’t mean — he asked him a simple question, and Denilson took it in that direction.

    In a way, the biggest sign that there’s probably something to this is the rest of the interview. It was 23 minutes long. He was asked about Wenger, the medical staff, the goalkeepers, the defenders — pretty much every topic that Arsenal fans love to bitch about, and had ample opportunity to criticize anyone else. But he didn’t. He gave answers as measured and scripted as if Wenger himself had written them out for him on cards beforehand (although he did say that he thought Almunia was our best keeper, which is a pretty compelling argument for mandatory drug testing). And he generally came across as a nice, calm, relatively intelligent (if not particularly insightful) player. And that’s worrying. If something like this had come from some idiot like Adebayor, we could write it off a bit and ignore it. But watching this interview, you just get the sense that Denilson is saying this because it’s true. And that’s a problem for Arsenal.

    Leadership is, of course, impossible to quantify. It doesn’t show up in statistics. But I don’t know a single football fan who doesn’t think it matters. And I do know that when Tony Adams was captain, we won things. When Patrick Vieira was captain, we won things. With either of those guys, you just got the sense that this was their team, they were in charge, and if someone didn’t do their jobs, they were going to hear about it, and possibly feel it, in the locker room after the game. So most of the time, players did their jobs.

    We haven’t won anything since those guys left. Players like . . . well, Denilson, for one, seemingly feel free to amble around the pitch, conceding stupid penalties, giving the ball away, and generally not doing the things they need to do to help us win. And you just don’t get the sense that there’s that urgency — anyone who has played sports of any kind knows how powerful fear can be. It’s not the only motivating factor, or even necessarily the best one . . . but it’s a pretty damn good one. If you know you’re going to get dressed down by your coach or your teammate in front of everyone if you don’t do your job, it really does make you work harder to do your job. Most militaries are based on this simple but effective motivational principle.

    But with Arsenal, you just don’t get the sense that there is that fear there. And that is a problem, because it hurts our performances, and hurts our chances to win. Let me put it this way — if Adams or Vieira was our captain, don’t you think they would deal with some of the problems we have in the squad right now? Not necessarily the old “bar of soap in a tube sock” prison-style “deal with it,” but they’d find a way, don’t you think? I just don’t think Arshavin would be half-assing it around, standing around when we don’t have the ball, Charlie Brown walking when the slightest thing goes wrong, etc. I think he’d get an earful and he’d learn some new English words, and he’d have to think twice before he did it again. But that’s just not there right now.

    Maybe this is an overreaction. I do think Cesc seems to be growing into the leadership role a lot more. Guys like van Persie and Nasri are passionate and talk to their teammates a lot on the pitch. Vermaelen seems absolutely like leadership/captain material to me. Maybe Denilson is just misguided, and doesn’t view those players as “leaders” in the same way that he viewed Gilberto and Slo as leaders b/c the current squad is his own age range and he doesn’t put them up on a pedastal the way he does older players. I’m not sure.

    But I do know that watching that interview gave me the impression that he absolutely understood what he was saying, and meant every word. He thinks this is a team with a good coach, and skilled players, and good teammates, but he obviously thinks we could use a guy to take charge and be the leader. And it’s not like what we have seen with our own eyes doesn’t support what he says. It was disturbing in a way to see Slo be by far the best player in an awful match against Spurs that killed off our title hopes last season — he was a guy who was only here for 5 months, why did he care so much more than anyone else on the team?

    I’m not sure what the answer is. Cesc is still very young, so I don’t know that it’s fair to criticize him too much for leadership failures. He’s still young. Yes, I know, Tony Adams became captain when he was 21, but you know what, we’ll never have another captain like Tony Adams, so that’s not really a fair comparison. I think Cesc takes his role seriously, and wants to be a good captain. He talks to his teammates on the pitch, he intervenes on their behalf with the referee, he carries himself as a good representative and ambassador of the club. But the bottom line is that if his teammates don’t view him as a leader, and at least one of them is willing to publicly state that he does not, Cesc may not be the right man for the job. If that’s the case, do we let him grow into it, or give it to someone else?

    As I’ve said several times already, I don’t have any answers. And I’m not sure anyone does. That’s the problem. Denilson has said something which may have confirmed many of our worst fears about the club as currently constituted, and it’s a problem which is: (a) potentially serious enough to keep us from winning trophies; and (b) not easily fixable.

    Big thanks to Arsenal Brasil and Arseblog for conducting the interview and bringing it to the masses, respectively.

  • walter

    Rhys,
    I don’t think I have ever claimed to be a journalist. Not that I know.

    And I do have read some comments (too much to my liking) on a few websites from arsenal supporters (or those who claimed to be Arsenal supporters) telling us that we still were rubbish and that it was the absence of Scott Parker which brought us the 3 points.

    Now they could of course have been pretending to be Arsenal supporters, but how am I suppose to know this? So if someone on here posts as a fan, untill the opposite can be showen I can only accept that he is an Arsenal supporter.