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Arsenal like being on top?

Arsenal like being on Top?

Don  McMahon

Many stalwarts on UA and elsewhere have begun to express doubts that AFC can or will  maintain their heated pursuit of the EPL and CL titles over the next 5 months. However there are a few factors to take into account here before we permit such pessimism to take hold:

1) Spuds and United are clearly mid-table, weaker opponents this season and can’t be expected to take many points from us City or Cheatski in the months to come,. That leaves us with 3 real opponents ( City, Chealsea & Liverpool). We have a tough few months ahead BUT we also have enormously winnable games, perhaps more so than our 3 other competitors.

2) City, Liverpool and Cheatski don’t have a lot of injuries but IF they start to accumulate, even with their bench strength, it will change their chemistry and form (usually for the worse), just as it would any other team. Liverpool is particularly at risk as an injury to Suarez could see them melt like snow in June.

3) The referees will have a big say in what happens. Liverpool, us and United now seem to be the whipping boys and City/Cheatski seem to be their preferred choices this season. IF this subconscious antipathy towards the three teams continues to augment in intensity, then, as is typical in every season, we will be playing against 12 men every game from now to May.

4) We have the best record of all EPL teams from January on to the run-in for the last two seasons. We are even stronger this season so, imho, we have the best potential to take the title. That is, if we can avoid further serious injuries and the refs don’t augment their influence versus Arsenal.

5) My guess is that it will NOT just be the number of wins any of the above accumulate but more importantly, the number of draws. When one considers that a team could have an invincible, unbeaten season and only earn a maximum of 38 points, it highlights how pernicious too many draws can be for a team’s chances of winning the title.

6) Mourinho is a master of defensive, counter-attacking football and we can bet that Cheatski will play NOT to lose (like they did at home to us) rather than playing to win like City did against us in Manchester. City have the ability and the team to play Total Football but Cheatski clearly don’t and won’t…so it is anti-Football Cheatski against Total Football Arsenal, Liverpool and City. If Mourinho succeeds in winning the EPL, then we should hang our collective heads in shame!

7) The Arsenal have the best defensive record so far in the EPL and that will mean a lot towards the end of the season. We will not likely catch City in terms of goals scored but with their leaky defense, we might surpass them in terms of the least goals against. It does look, at the current rate, that it will be a three way race between us, the Chjavs and City, so fewer goals against can mean more wins, potentially. Here is where the score-line of 1-0 for the Arsenal could give us the title.

8) The CL and FA Cup are going to be difficult and challenging matches and will have a big impact on the three clubs’ seasons. IF we can take out Bayern, thus giving us tremendous confidence to go all the way in the CL, then Arsène may refocus his efforts on winning the CL rather than the EPL. My personal feeling is that he’ll go for both and as our injured players return to full action, he will really rotate his best 11 to enrich and improve his youth players, conserve strength and fitness for his veterans and preserve the solid winning attitude AFC have shown since January 2013.

9) We have one of the youngest teams in any competition and with such energetic, talented youth, solid experience and some of our walking wounded back, we can expect to see us thereabouts right up to the end of May. The British core he has developed is now meshing with the European heart and is producing an economical and effective form of Wengerball that is neither as naive as it was in past seasons nor as fragile as it showed since 2005.

10) This season we seem to have a bench and reserves that can produce, regardless of who they play. There is still the mental handbrake that some Gunners play with when against the other big 4 teams, but there isn’t one team we cannot beat, when we come out with the intention to win the game irrespective of the ref, our history with that team, or those media types who sacrifice to false gods in order to see Arsenal falter. We have stability and solidity from our keeper on up to our midfielders. Once the striker situation settles down, we should have sufficient gas in the tank to cross the line first in just about any competition.

There is always the possibility that Wenger will find a striker in January that suits his criteria, and that is the wild card that might add gas to the Arsenal tank and weapons to its already impressive armaments. Regardless, we need to take it one game at a time and see the forest for the trees, rather than the deadwood for the wildwood.

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47 comments to Arsenal like being on top?

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Don , my only worry is the bent refs .While I hope that we do play to the best of our (available ) ability , I have also the
    hope that ManShitty and Chelski implode along the way .
    I do hope Moanrhino and his cheaters get their due desserts and are thwarted in the end .

  • AL

    Good write up. If the refs hadn’t robbed us we would be about 10 points ahead today. Unfortunately for us the refs, and the media, seem to have developed a deep fondness of everything to do with oil.

    On a slightly different topic, just saw some stats on the DM website showing Ozil, despite many saying his performances have lulled, is by far the most creative midfielder in the premiership, creating nearly twice as much chances as his nearest rival.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-2536981/THE-NUMBERS-GAME-The-honeymoon-period-Loic-Remy-better-signing-Alvaro-Negredo.html

  • Rupert Cook

    We haven’t been robbed of anything. I can’t recall a game where a team got a last minute penalty and robbed us of all three points or we were not allowed a penalty in the last minute, the only scenarios where you can really declare points as lost.

    Losing Walcott is a blow but I’m more desperate to get Ramsey back seeing as he was doing so well and scores a few goals, which would be useful as I can’t see us getting a striker this month.

    To be where we are right now is a fine achievement. I think our winning the league rests on several key games, Everton, Liverpool, Chelsea and Southampton away and Man City and Manu at home. I’ll discount Spurs even though I think losing AVB was progress for them.

  • @Rupert happy new year, looks like we are going to have a bright future, cant believe it that other teams can play manure to the death and we can not do it anymore;just wondering what happened?? And we are better than those teams.

  • Stuart

    So you can only be robbed in the last minute of the game apparently. There is no way a ref can be biased towards one team throughout a game, it can only happen in the last minute. hahaha what a joker

  • nicky

    Don,
    Your factor 3) provides a sad reflection on our national game by attributing so much on the bias of referees.
    Just imagine Arsenal losing the title by (say) 2 or 3 points and then think back to the appalling refereeing in the home game against Aston Villa.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Any idea who the villa ref is?
    Great article we do indeed like being top just others don’t like us there

  • AL

    We have Neil Swabrick for the villa game.

  • Guudmon

    Its so painful seeing our team kickt around jst becoz someref allowed that,..Or aplaye like the ox condemed to injuries

  • Mandy Dodd

    Thanks Al mr swarbrick not the greatest but was half expecting Taylor or is that too much even for the pgmol? Expecting the usual rotational kick fest with a gradual erosion of the skeletal matter of jacks ankles

  • Va Cong

    Hopefully we pass the ball so fast no injuries occur!

  • OMGArsenal

    Rupert…your statement makes no sense. Here are various scenarios that can change a game’s results from the first whistle to the final one:

    1)Ref cards then ejects a key player for very spurious reasons; ie: RVP ejected by ref during Barcelona game, we played with 10 men and lost…our best player off, against the best team in the world!

    2)Ref ejects Lehmann and awards a penalty. We still score first but cannot sustain against Barcelona and end up losing 2-1!

    3) We are leading Newcastle 4-1 but end up tied 4-4 after referee awards a penalty and allows very dubious goals to stand.

    3) United get NO penalties against them at home for an entire season, we get 8 against us at home…curious, n’est-ce-pas?

    I could give you endless examples how a officials can spin a game’s result in favour of one or the other team, or even get a tie out of a game that should have been one team’s convincing victory so saying something like you did is embarrassingly naive. I am a retired professional referee so I DO know that the manipulation of results does happen, before, during and even after a game.

  • bob

    ” that the crooked ones represent a infinitely tiny minority”
    OMGArsenal,
    The other day (1/7) you wrote the above. Please clarify: are you saying today (@3:32 above) that these are 4 examples of foul play by the small minority of the crooked ones?

    Or, is it far more widespread? As suggested when you write above: “I could give you endless examples how a officials can spin a game’s result in favour of one or the other team, or even get a tie out of a game that should have been one team’s convincing victory”. Please clarify.

  • Pat

    @Rupert

    Don has outlined some of the ways a referee can influence the results of a match. I don’t think you can really be following the articles on this site very closely, or you would know there are numerous such ways and they have all been used against us. Didn’t you see all the red on Arsenal’s referee bias chart for last season? That means all the referees were biased against Arsenal (some more than others).

    It has not changed this season. As Arsene Wenger said on one occasion ‘We are used to it.’

  • Pat

    @Rupert

    Don has outlined some of the ways a referee can influence the results of a match. I don’t think you can really be following the articles on this site very closely, or you would know there are numerous such ways and they have all been used against us. Didn’t you see all the red on Arsenal’s referee bias chart for last season? That means all the referees were biased against Arsenal (some more than others).

    It has not changed this season. As Arsene Wenger said on one occasion ‘We are used to it.’

  • Pat

    Sorry my comment came up twice. don’t know why.

  • Pat

    @Rupert
    Have a look at the latest article posted on this site about Neil Swarbrick and you’ll see detailed analysis of how a referee can influence a game. If you’re really interested.

  • Pete

    Rupert,

    Examples of being robbed this season?

    Villa at home (one of two penalties conceded highly dubious, red card against Koscielny unjust, against Vlaar not given)

    Man City away (two goals and a penalty disallowed, City have a soft penalty and a soft free kick leading to goals)

    Chelsea at home (Chelsea avoid a red card and clear penalty against in the first half).

    All this from memory…

    Can’t immediately recall anything clearly wrong in the MU, WBA and Everton games. I am also struggling to recall a victory due to errors in our favour from the match officials.

    Added to this the very fortunate refereeing that City and Chelsea have received in numerous well-documented matches and it sees clear that if the world was fair we would be 10-15 points clear!

  • Mandy Dodd

    Would not say we were robbed against Everton Pete but the ref let their MFs away with constant fouling that completely broke up our attacking rhythm. Barry and I think McCarthy were the worst offenders. Critics may say it is a mans game but such fouling is against the rules of the game and we seem to get it week in week out. Expecting more on Monday. Always the same the refs refuse to deal with it early on which signals intent and it carries on with a card for us if we retaliate. On that subject amazed to see that rentagob spud player let off for a very clear stamp dangerously close to monreals hand and …..head. Wonder if one of our players would get the same leniency

  • Mick

    @Mandy Dodd
    Re the stamp from the Spurs player I agree it is galling to see him getting off scot-free, but what is happening regarding the crowd missile throwing, that seems to have died a death too. Does anyone have any news as to the situation, is it being investigated or has it been forgotten about?

  • Mick

    @Rupert
    Don’t be such a plonker, open your biased eyes, the evidence is there for all to see.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Very true mick I have heard nothing about the crowd. One of our fans was banned for throwing a banana at bale I hope coin throwers are treated similarly. Nothing doing over dembele aiming his head at jack either have always reckoned the spuds have friends in high places

  • bob

    Mandy,
    From appearances to date, it doesn’t seem after a longish while that Gazidis elevation to higher places in the FA world has made a dent on the refshite. Not saying it’s his fault, but hopes for that making a significant difference re the PGMob/refshite seem to be falling short of fairness. Maybe our shin guards should be spikier; and some kind of ankle protection that would be flexible enough to allow mobility and electrified enough to stop the Miraleses/Shawcrofts/Adamses, and their ilk from plying their cynical trade.

  • bob

    “a game where a team got a last minute penalty and robbed us of all three points or we were not allowed a penalty in the last minute, the only scenarios where you can really declare points as lost.”
    Rupert Cook,
    Puzzling. With statements like this, you’ve become a parody of yourself. Well done, then. Well, either that or you’ve become a consiglieri for the PGMob. Done.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Agree Bob nothing much seems to have changed. Maybe slightly more subtle if the current vogue for rotational fouling against us can be called subtle. Maybe we need to make more of these fouls a bit of over exageration as opposed to diving?

  • bob

    Mandy,
    Interesting idea. Just thinking out loud: Using over-exaggeration (without diving) calls visual attention to the chronic and dangerous non-calls. As long as our lads don’t get caught up in the drama of it and get unfocused on the pitch (there’s the rub). Then our cynical (cool-headed) over-exaggeration could become a tactic (truth-telling) to spotlight the chronic cynical fouling for all to see in real-time.

    Then again, refs don’t like to be shown up, do they. And it’s who controls the camera work – the real-time TV producer(s) in the vans. The match-producers have a considerable real warped skill-set, and are necessary to the illusion of fair play; and all the while, there’s back-up (editors and pundits) at MOTD, etc., to try and ensure against any slip ups when the visual coverage shows too much. Ah well, connecting dots can get ya labeled a conspiracy nut job; whereas those who see events one at a time escape being labeled coincidence theorists, for whom it all evens out at day’s end.

  • OMGArsenal

    Bob…..thanks for your feedback. I am simply stating that some officials get away with what appear to be questionable calls BUT I still maintain they are in the minority.

    When I say that there are endless examples where an official can s^pin the results, I am NOt saying they all do this all the time or that even a minority do this every game. I’m saying, as I have in other articles I wrote for UA, that the nature of officiating permits such abuses to be ¨hidden¨ in the ordinary run of play and within the referees powers in the Laws. It doesn’t imply anything other than that….hopefully.

  • OMGArsenal

    spin …… opps!

  • bob

    OMGArsenal,
    Thanks. I’d like to see your take on what has just happened in the disallowance of the Newcastle goal? And more than that, of how it’s spun by the lenscrafters in da medja, INC. And lastly, would you favor video replay, or not? As a former ref, your view on this has significant value in these parts.

  • OMGArsenal

    Bob………..I haven’t had a chance to see the disallowed goal but I will and get back to you.
    I am a huge fan of both goal-line technology and replays,provided the following is respected:

    1)The referee’s decision must ALWAYS be final, regardless.
    2)The time taken to view a replay should be minimal and include time to consult with the 4th official, who likely will be the one with the video replay.
    3)No replays should be shown on the big screen TV in the stadium, as this simply encourages a lot of unsolicited dissent and agitation from all concerned.
    4)The players should be no where near the officials as they review either a goal or an event on GLT or video replay. Barca are masters at intimidating the officials, as was SAF and a few others.

    I officiated in one pre-season game between 2 professional teams in my home town and we had video replays on trial BUT the system wasn’t very clear nor well planned. Today there is no excuse for any technical glicthes so it is now time to enter the 21st century!

  • Rupert Cook

    @OMG Arsenal, it’s strange though isn’t it that when Chelsea went down to ten men they still beat Barca, a far superior team most believe. I have explained this numerous times about cause and effect, that just because a ref makes a decision against you it doesn’t necessarily benefit the opposing team. A brilliant example of this is when Brentford got a penalty against Doncaster last season. I don’t know whether the penalty was the correct decision but it was saved and Doncaster ran up the other end and scored. Perhaps if they hadn’t got the penalty, something that appeared to benefit them, Doncaster would not have scored. This is why simplistic pronouncements about ref’s decisions being absolute is nonsense unless it’s a penalty in the last minute which gives the opposing team no chance to respond.

    Of course if there is consistent bias throughout the whole game, as in the case of Leeds Utd. European Cup final where the ref was found to be corrupt, then the weight of biased decisions will almost certainly favour the team the ref favours. Do I think refs are biased against us? Maybe some are but very few I imagine. I can’t see why they would be and I have yet to hear one sensible reason why they would be.

    I don’t doubt that officials can be corrupt, and some maybe in the EPL, but I don’t think Arsenal are singled out. The standard of refereeing is poor, I grant you. I’ve seen loads of poor decisions involving most teams this year and I think technology should be used as it is in most sports these days.

  • Rupert Cook

    @bob, read the above. Perhaps you’ll grasp the point I’m making. A ref can make a poor decision against us but he has no idea whether that’ll cost us the game. I really don’t see why people aren’t bright enough to understand this.

  • bob

    Rupert,
    Since I’m admittedly not bright enough to grasp your clinching argument, what I can do, for starters is suggest this toward our mutual re-education:
    Perhaps you’ll take the time to digest Walter’s recent posting which presents a not-so-random as you’d have us believe account of Arsenal’s experience on the pitch:
    http://blog.emiratesstadium.info/archives/33194
    What, apart from condescension, might you say to this? Sheer coincidence these results? Do you always reject patterns for the one-off exception to (that proves) the rule?

  • bob

    OMGArsenal,
    Did you digest Walter’s summations. Do they put any scintilla of doubt in your analysis that most things are fair among the worker bees who service the hives of Riley?
    http://blog.emiratesstadium.info/archives/33194

  • Stuart

    Has anyone heard the rumours about a return of Eduardo? What are the chances and more importantly, what do you think of this?

  • bob

    Stuart,
    Yes, Rumors are flying all over goonernews.com’s compilations. Any listings of his record this season? He seems to be openly signaling a desire to return (at some point, to save face, but eager); and it would be a dream come true, given how they kicked him to bits. Maybe someone who reads Russian, etc., can find some accounts/assessment of his game level abroad?

  • bob

    Rupert Cook,
    I promised (as part of our mutual re-education program) to send you two links that cover Arsene Wenger’s ballsy journey into the lion’s den in 2009 to be interviewed (in 2 parts) by the Daily Mail and the (Murdoch owned) Times of London. Here is part one: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-1206377/ARSENE-WENGER-INTERVIEW-The-transcript-Martin-Samuels-fascinating-meeting-Arsenal-manager–I.html
    I will post part two in the very next post (to avoid UA delays for more than 1 link per posting). To me, this was a throwing down of the gauntlet (or unbearable cheeky challenge) that has partly defined and provoked and summarizes reasons for the anti-AFC animus that you deny.

  • bob

    Mandy Dodd,
    In case you haven’t seen it, the two links up there to Rupert lead to some interesting considerations about why they may have it in for AW/AFC. Have a look sometime, if you would.

  • Gord

    bob

    Thanks for the links. I think Wenger is a very honourable and intelligent person. I don’t think the person(s) asking the questions are anywhere near as much so.

  • Pat

    @bob
    A big thank you for the links to the Arsene Wenger interviews.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Yes I have read that interview Bob, quite amazing wenger really is a one off. I am sure he has ruffled enough feathers to have some want to stop him in his tracks , especially with his record. I still believe there is a hell of a lot of corruption in our game and the fact that wenger clearly has no part in it makes him a target. Some will deny this corruption especially in an Arsenal context as it is easier for them and their agenda to blame the manager board or Ramsey but for a start nobody with an ounce of sanity can now deny that fergie was given special favours and that is corruption

  • Pete

    Rupert,

    You will need to back up your arguments with statistics.

    1. A refereeing bias exists – this is statistically proven. But I agree we don’t know why.

    2. Statistically, a team reduced to 10 men does worse than a team with 11. There are always anecdotal counter-examples but that doesn’t mean the overall probabilities of W/D/L don’t change in an adverse way. Ditto, a team with a penalty awarded to it will have a superior outcome most of the time than vice-versa.

  • Rupert Cook

    @Pete, totally agree with no.2 point. On the whole eleven men will beat ten. But this isn’t a given. If a goalkeeper gets sent off then the chances of defeat are even higher unless you have an outfield player who used to be a gk. If a team is reduced to ten men and they are winning the natural instinct is to defend. Now ten men are defending against ten attackers as the the opposition gk will stay back so in actuality it’s ten vs ten. You can see why sometimes ten vs eleven doesn’t ensure the eleven will win but I’d rather be the team with 11.

    No.1 point. Who has statistically proven that a ref bias exists? Do you mean Walter? I’m sorry but I have no idea whether Walter’s statistics are right. I have no idea what his motivations are besides being an Arsenal fan. In fact I have no idea who he is, do you? ( If you go to the doctor and he tells you you have a life threatening illness do you just accept it or get a second opinion? I’d get a second opinion because even doctors make mistakes.)

    For all I know he might be an aggrieved ex ref who’s career went awry. He might be totally biased towards Arsenal. What it comes down to is do you believe everything people post on the internet? I don’t.

    In fact I rather like Walter. I feel he is an honest individual but I still can’t be 100 per cent sure he is or that his findings are correct. Especially as he sits down and watches a match and then judges a ref’s performance. You have to replicate the exact conditions to make a 100 per cent correct pronouncement on a ref’s performance. I wonder how different some of these “incorrect” decisions would be if Walter were the actual ref.

    I’d like to believe that football was rife with corruption, that every ref was anti-Arsenal, it would make me feel content and convinced that we should have won the league far more frequently than we have. Once I believed that though I’d give up with football because it would have no interest for me. I might buy a football annual each year and just tipex out the league champions, which wouldn’t be Arsenal due to corruption, and put Arsenal’s name in, then I’d go back to my other hobbies like reading and collecting records and ignore football until the next annual comes out.

  • Rupert Cook

    @bob, yes I’m well aware Wenger is an educated man. Someone I’d probably enjoy many an hour conversing with especially as he seems a well read individual whom I’m sure would be familiar with the works of Celine, Hesse, Hamsun, Bulgakov and other wonderful writers. And I see he’s into abstract art and as my mother is an artist, who primarily paints abstracts, I’d like to get his opinion on her efforts.

    I’m not sure that because Wenger wants to build a team a certain way he would invite the wrath of refs and the media and whoever else you can conjure up. If you’re implying that football and its followers despise any individual who is reasoned and betrays a whiff of intellectual insight, well that’s quite a strong claim.

    Anyway I’m quite familiar with Wenger’s philosophy and I admit I skimmed over the article as I’ve read about his beliefs on quite a few occasions.

    I think we both agree that refs are not very good at their job, we may well differ on why that’s so. I tend towards ineptitude rather than corruption. I also have very little interest in the media’s portrayal of Arsenal; I’ve read some pro Wenger pieces and some not so glowing pieces. On the whole journalists write to sell papers and towards that aim truth is often sacrificed. Having worked on the periphery of the music industry I’m well acquainted with the cynicism of the press and have very little time for its bleatings.

  • Pete

    Rupert, I’m sure Walter can respond, but the way I see the ref reviews is that earlier efforts were open to criticism due to potential bias on the part of the reviewers, being Arsenal fans. But, last season at least, the reviews were undertaken by qualified refs who did not support either of the teams – most of the time at least. Specifically, Walter didn’t review the Arsenal games, I don’t believe. Why would he go to so much trouble if he fatally undermined his work through bias himself? The biases recorded against Arsenal were very statistically significant and can’t be written off as “bad luck”.

    I would much rather believe that the sport is clean as to discover it isn’t would destroy one of my passions in life. So perhaps I am coming at it from the opposite direction to you? But my education is scientific and a key part of science is that you have to accept objective evidence however much you might personally dislike it. On the other hand, scientific method also stipulates always being open to new evidence and being willing to change your own view as a result.

    I would dearly love it if the pendulum moved towards objectivity and fairness. I have absolutely no desire for Arsenal to win by unfair means!

  • Rupert Cook

    @Pete, I’ll accept objective evidence but I’m afraid you have no proof that any of these reviews were done by qualified refs, you only have Walter’s word for it. All of it could be falsified. If you went to court with some figures written on a blog you’d be laughed out of the place.

    I have no problem with accepting there could be corruption. I have even less problem with accepting that the refs are poor at their job as I’ve seen numerous dodgy decisions. What I find ridiculous is the idea that the refs are all as one in aiding in the downfall of Arsenal. It’s almost as crazy as those who believe the moon landings were made up. You’re not going to get 20 or so refs to agree to sabotage one club for some mysterious reason. I mean last season the reason was because the PGMOL was run by a Manu supporter. Now this same individual has switched his allegiances to City, hardly likely.

    I’d be bloody insulted if I were a City fan. City have a good manager and fabulous squad whether you or I like it or not. They have destroyed some very good teams including Arsenal and there was no disputing their dominance in that game.

    Imagine if this was the early 2000’s when we and Manu were sharing trophies and some Chelsea fan started a blog claiming that the refs had it in for his team and Arsenal and Manu were cheating their way to trophies. I don’t think we’d have any time for such nonsense.

    The main reason we’ve been third or fourth best is because we haven’t been able to compete for the best players. This appears to be changing. You only have to look at the impact the arrival of Ozil has made. Imagine if we’d bought Suarez as well, we’d most likely be five or six points clear. You spend money, you win the league, that unfortunately is the bottom line.