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October 2016
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It’s hard to knock 8 out of 8, and 16/18. But journalists find a way.

By Tony Attwood

We have won 16 of our last 18 games in all competitions so we are consistent.

We have won eight league games in a row – and you can’t really do better than that.

We might well also get Champions League qualification for an 18th consecutive season.

These are not bad runs.  Not records but not bad runs.   And just in passing, in relation to the latter, Manchester United and Real Madrid hold the record number of consecutive participations in the Champions League with 18.  Man U did it from 1996–97 to 2013–14 when the actions of Sir F Word in throwing everything into one final championship brought the pack of cards tumbling down the year after.  Real Mad however started in 1997–98 to 2014–15 and are still running.

So if we get in next season that will equal Man U’s figure, although of course leave us still one behind Real Mad.   We’ve been there since 1998–99.  Quite good really.  Joint second in the whole of Europe, if we make it.

Thus you might think that even the most cynical hard bitten time-serving yes-man in the newspaper world might actually say, “this Arsenal is doing quite well.”  Along the way under the current manager they’ve done a couple of Doubles, become the all time best club in the FA Cup and had the impossible Unbeaten Season.

But no, at least not in the Daily Telegraph.  For in an article today, an article which is not even signed by a journalist, but is written by  Telegraph Sport they still, even now, even after the failure of all their predictions of doom and disaster, after all their insistent knocking and put downs, and their desperate longing to become the house magazine of the football fundamentalists, they are still knocking, knocking, knocking.  Presumably on the basis that if you get it wrong 150 times in a row, eventually you have to be right.

Indeed it has become so laughable that the columns they produce day after day week after week now have actually become must-read, they are so lunatically funny.  Which I suppose is one way of getting an audience.

Thus it is that today they have an article with the heading “Alexis Sanchez is wilting away from home for Arsenal” and the sub-heading

The Chilean striker has scored just once away from the Emirates since November and needs a rest – and four other lessons from Arsenal’s 1-0 win at Burnley

It is a fairly quickly cobbled together job, as shown by the twerping errors, as with the opening sentence “Firs things first: nobody is denying Alexis Sanchez oozes quality and has been a key reason for Arsenal’s undeniable progress this season.”

I think the first word they are struggling for is, well, “First”.

Now I know that Untold is packed with typos, but this is a blog written, edited and published by a bunch of Arsenal fans who also have day jobs, and not all of whom have English as their first language, not a professional outlet that claims daily sales of its print edition of half a million.

So what do they say today?

There can also be no denying that Sanchez’s form has dipped dramatically since the turn of the year: having scored 18 goals before Jan 12, he has managed just two in 13 games since.

Now it takes most of us about 2.3 seconds to work out that

a) they are reading “form” as equal to “goals scored” which is just plain sillly and

b) one reason for that is that in the first half of the season rather a lot of our top players were missing – including Giroud – leaving Alexis to take on the mantle of goal scorer all by himself.

For example, if we go back to when we beat Burnley at home on 1 November 2014, there was no Giroud, no Bellerin, no Ozil, no Coquelin, no Koscielny, no Ramsey in the starting line up.  So in the majority of positions we had a different team, including not having our star striker.  So Alexis did it all.

Thus when the Telegraph says it is “striking that Sanchez has only scored one goal away from home since November – against struggling Queens Park Rangers in March,” what they actually should say is

“This player is amazing.  When called upon to be the main goal scoring forward he does it.  When he is called upon to be part of an utterly different team, he does it.”

But instead they focus on the negative, negative, negative: “His movement was slightly sluggish, his runs slightly predictable, and his shooting slightly soft.”

They then move onto the question, “Why is Theo Walcott not playing?” because, they say, he is a better right winger than Ramsey.  Which is also dumb because Ramsey wasn’t playing right wing, he was playing further back, and Theo is not yet firing on all cylinders.  It is coming and going – which is not surprising given the length of time he was out.

But no, the Telegraph wants to claim that it underlined the huge cloud of doubt that hangs over his Arsenal future, with no new contract in the offing. He will have plenty of time to contemplate his options if Arsene Wenger does not undergo a change of heart at the Emirates.

So Alexis is in decline, and Theo is mysteriously frozen out.

And that means it must be time for … “The Premier League can be quite boring”.

Now a debate on the PL vis a vis the top divisions in Spain, Italy, France and Germany might be interesting, but this appears to be beyond the intellectual capacity of “Telegraph Sport” who wrote the piece.   So their reason for this bizarre and eccentric claim is …

Seven members of Arsenal’s starting XI cost more than the entire Burnley squad put together, and while nobody could accuse Sean Dyche’s side of lacking heart, the gulf in class was quite painful to behold. There was a moment early in the second half when a stat flashed up on Sky’s coverage pointing out that Arsenal had enjoyed 75% possession in that period – an astonishing figure in any match, but even more so for an away team.

Now given that Arsenal have no debts other than the mortgage of the stadium, given that they have built the stadium and paid for most of it (more than Man City, Man U, Chelsea, Liverpool, WHU, Tottenham etc etc have done in recent years), and yet have stayed in the Champions League each season, I’d say that is fair enough.  No oil money, nothing from highly dubious states like Qatar.  No gifting of a stadium as with Man C and WHU.  Just Arsenal doing its stuff.

But yes, it was  a shame that Burnley couldn’t sell all its tickets, but nice to see that Arsenal took the whole of one end.  But there’s not much we can do if people from the north west don’t want to go and see PL football in sufficient numbers to fill every seat.

And are Arsenal really to blame for the fact that for one period of the game they had 75% possession?  Presumably in the eyes of the Telegraph, yes.

After that, you can tell that the Telegraph writers were running out of ideas because we had the old “not a single Englishman in Arsene Wenger’s starting XI,” (and you can tell how much the Telegraph hates foreigners by the fact that they refuse to use any accents in people’s names.   It’s Arsène Wenger you plonkers.  With a grave accent.)

But then, just to prove that even the direst bit of political negativity has to have a good point, they find one, right at the end.

Even in games when you dominate possession and have the overwhelming share of the chances, you still need someone to do the dirty work. And in Francis Coquelin, Arsenal had that man. He made 11 interceptions – more than any of his team-mates – and was successful in every one of his tackles. After years of searching for the ‘next Gilberto’, Arsene Wenger finally seems to have found his man – although whether he is yet quite in the same class as Nemanja Matic at Chelsea is another issue.

Nemanja Matić  (acute accent note, you Telegraph accent deniers) is 26 years old and has played 216 first class league games, plus 19 times for his country’s first team.

Francis Coquelin is 23 and has played 83 first class league games, and has played for his country at under 17 to under 21 level, but not yet for its first team.

What sort of dumbo, pathetic silly comparison is that supposed to be?

Indeed one can imagine that, if it covered Arsenal on 12 April 1930 the Telegraph was probably saying that Arsenal had come a poor 14th in the league and really ought to be doing a lot better.   They probably didn’t note that Arsenal had won the FA Cup for the first time ever and had just beaten Sheffield United 8-1.

But hey-ho.  That’s the British press for you.

The books

45 comments to It’s hard to knock 8 out of 8, and 16/18. But journalists find a way.

  • A

    Just like last game, keeper is trying to help chasing win the game. At the last 5min of the game yet again. Luck or coincidence… Well just noticeable

  • john

    Sorry to be stretching the topic, but have just seen Chelsea largely played off the park by QPR, only to be gifted a scruffy late goal. Only Courtois, luck and poor finishing meant that QPR were not ahead by then.

    No doubt the Telegraph et al will describe this undeserved win as the mark of true champions.

  • ARSENAL 13

    Wonder how Chelsea get away with such games…..curious case of goalkeeper errors helping them out every time.

  • bjtgooner

    Chelski has won two weeks in a row due to poor goalkeeper clearances. Too much of a coincidence?

  • Gord

    In the Women’s FA Cup quarter-final, Arsenal is chasing an equalizer down 1-2 to Chelsea.

  • Tony Attwood

    Never mind guys. It’s the Manchester derby next. Maybe they’ll both lose.

  • ARSENAL 13

    We’ve lost Gord..

    2 ex ARSENAL players score for them..

  • ARSENAL 13

    One half of me wants to see a City win… Just to see Man Utd end up in Europa league again…

    Liverpool.. However shit they are. Let them just make it to 4th at the expense of ManUtd please…

  • jambug

    I suppose a draw would be best for us but I cant help wanting City to stuff united.

    How United are where they are is beyond me.

    A combination of luck and a keeper having the season of his life I suppose.

    United a are like a £200 Million pound version of Wimbled. Hoof it up to Fellani and see what happens seem the only attacking option they have.

    As for City, it is true I don’t like the way they’ve got where they are, but at least there Managers tend to have humility and there players like to play attacking football.

    As well as that, many of there fans that visit here are good to debate with.

    United getting a good going over is what I’m hoping for. Failing that a draw will do.

    Alas normal service is being resumed. United being outplayed but 2 – 1 up at present.

  • A

    Sorry meant Chelsea been gifted gosls by keeper in the last 5min of again.

    As for utd vs city, thanks clichy for both goals… Fellini is always offside,

    But 8 games in a row, sure #wengerout been patiently waiting for a slip up, to pick up the banner.
    It’s goes against all script, we were meant to be the sacrificing lamb out the top four. Even some suggested the spuds replacing us.

  • ARSENAL 13

    How did kompany escape the red!!!…..

  • jambug

    Exactly. Bad tackle that.

    Took him off at HT. They knew he was on a tight rope.

  • Gord

    What is Ivan Gazidis doing in the news today? All the press is seems to be saying one thing, but is that what he is really trying to say?

  • ken lock

    Back to the topic lads…do we actually have any real “sports journalists”?
    I can see the headlines if we do win the title..Chelsea let the league slip and lucky Arsenal take advantage”.
    After supporting Arsenal for over 60 years I have got used to the way Arsenal are perceived as a club.
    I just feel lucky to have been chosen to be a gooner and rely on my club to continue to be a shining light in the football world.
    Back to the game today and it’s now 3-1 but the referee’s performance is so biased to Utd it’s unbelievable…two offside goals so far.

  • ARSENAL 13

    I don’t think he said what the press say he did.

    He said he’ll not be happy to lose out on the title after such a brilliant form in the second half. We’ll fight till the end.

    Now media being media…..what else can we expect. They can’t do their usual ARSENAL in crisis shit. So this is all they could come up with.

  • john

    Definitely 2 off-side goals. Man City seem to know that its stacked against them and have given up the ghost.

  • Andrew Crawshaw

    Goes and Arsenal13 – match report on the Ladies game to follow (probably tomorrow morning) will have it with Tony in about an hour. Nearly home!

  • john

    Gary Neville has invented a new concept “on the edge of off-side”.

    It must mean “that would be off-side against any other team”.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Are Chelsea the most boring team in the league?

  • Al

    Without a doubt, Mandy.

    When you head the bbc say mata might have been offside then you know he was definitely off. City hard done by some poor officiating.

  • Al

    When you hear….

  • Mandy Dodd

    Have not seen the game Al, but guess that’s a taste of what we will soon have to come up there. Not a great afternoon for us.

  • nicky

    The Telegraph, whose minute circulation has always been near the limit of success and failure, should never be read by those interested in football.
    The paper should really only publish during the cricket season.

  • Naj

    There is a lot of media biased towards Arsenal, no question about that, but what’s the problem with those who called themselves Gunners supporters and always wish Arsenal loose or ask for the manager’shhead even when he does exceptionally well, competing with those who have an unlimited resources. What should the true Gooner call those guys

  • ken lock

    What should we call them?
    aaa idiots, talksport presenters, bbc pundits, mike riley puppies, but never gooners.

  • Menace

    ARSENAL 13 – my thoughts exactly – a rather green clearance from Green? Just to rub the salt in Fabregas with Arsenal training.

    I think after what has happened in Manchester Riley is back with MUPGMO.

  • Henry Root

    A good article and one that makes a point my father made to me fifty seven years ago when I began supporting Arsenal. ‘ Son, you either love the Arsenal or you hate them’. Hence the ridiculous obsession that idiots like Durham have with Arsenal. What Wenger has achieved and continues to achieve is remarkable. Look at what Tottenham have achieved in the same period as Wenger has been in charge. 2 League Cups and one Champions League qualification. Yet when do you hear the same level of criticism about them. Just watch them try to finance the building of a stadium and stay competitive. No chance. Wenger did it every year and made a profit.

  • Al

    Yes, our game up there is unlikely to be fairly reffed. Especially with second up for grabs. Anyway, whatever happens we’re unlikely to be involved in a scrap for fourth on the last day of the season.

  • Simon

    You guys need to calm down! Sanchez’s form has dipped. So what. Relax. There’s no conspiracy.

  • Menace

    Once again the stream was not the best. We untolders have a lovely life, streams & beaches….
    The use of the elbow by the toilet brush called Fellaini was made light of by the rapid recovery of the victim; so no foul there then! Another touch of Neville blindness followed the replay. I’m not quite sure what happened for the referee to physically go over to his assistant before he yellow carded Kompany but the pundits were calling for red.

    There were no cards for the champions oooops! the peoples champions (your not people is you don’t support united).

  • jambug

    Despite dozens and dozens of match reviews that suggest to the contrary, and various statistics that support those reviews, such as penalty and card awards, Simon dismiss’s it all out of hand in one line.

    Phew. And I thought Tony, Walter and co where on to something there.

    Thanks Simon.

  • Gord

    Yesterday I got to watch the game, and TSN was using the NBC sprots feed (all games produced at Turf Moor). And the commentating was lousy, so I muted it. Just now, I was making some more peppermint tea, and listed to Master’s Golf coverage. “The only way you could do any better, would be to do better.” Same amount of intelligence as football commentating (none). It costs these networks money to have N people babbling away at various points during play. Why do they insist they do this? Why can’t we find a video feed, where the only audio is from the fans at the game? It would save them money.

  • bob mac

    Great result for utd.

    Did I actually see 2 offside goals…………..or has fergie still got riley in his pocket.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Looked offside on MOTD, I am sure Fergie has an influence still but equally sure the powers that be wanted UTD back in the CL for next season….at all costs ,for the brand don’t you know, and have a feeling we could been subject to collateral damage in this aim,especially earlier in the season.
    Untold Arsenal, and other sources suggest we get a real bum deal with the refs

  • bjtgooner

    The Manures did indeed get away with 2 offside goals, but in addition they seemed to get the benefit of a lot of fouls, pushes & pulls which were not called. Having said that Kompany was lucky not to get a red.

    City, after a bright start were very poor, Yaya looked lazy and disinterested, the midfield was inadequate, the defense disorganized, the attack spluttering with little enthusiasm anywhere for the battle – all very disappointing as a draw would probably have been best for us. Suspect there are problems behind the scene at City.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Agree Bjt, there must be problems at City, a talented bunch of players on a dreadful run of form. Seemed like only half of them at best were trying. Could easily finish out of the top four, just as well FFP is toothless or they may have problems, but expect an FFP busting summer from them.
    One of their biggest problems, a lot of their key players are mercenaries. And that defence!!!

  • bjtgooner

    On present form City could finish outside the top four, but what might save them is that they have a comparatively easy run in – but Mandy you could be right.

  • Naj, 13 April is the anniversary of the first recorded appearance of the aaa

    Incidentally it is also the anniversary of the first commentary saying that TV was deliberately distorting football for its own ends. There’s a note about both at the foot of Monday’s article by Walter

  • Goonermikey

    Not only did Man U benefit from two offside goals, we had to endure Alan Green on Radio 5 suggesting at the end of the game that they could now go on to challenge Chelski for the Premiership……………………..

  • Jim Carroll

    Been supporting Arsenal for nearly sixty years. When the media have an unfair dig at us that gets me riled,I just think of being a spurs supporter, the same age as Lineker or younger who’s never seen them win the league,cheers me up no end!!

  • Apo Armani

    John you write about Neville and his ”nearly”… Well he is one of those guys that ”nearly” gets laid or better still comes home from a fishing trip with a catch he bought from the shop – difference is he can talk shite as plundit and get well away with it but telling your mates you had one on the line but it got away would never get past the word ”nearly” got one before he was laughing phoda!!! Plonker of the highest order as well as a failure as a player!

  • Apo Armani

    Incedently I watched the full game in Manchester, what is certain is that Manure will get a ‘helping hand’ in order to make it into CL even with that squad – City or anyone else is totally insignificant in the powers above… Cock up and Manure may even be gifted the PL!!!!!!

  • Apo Armani

    City plaid average but given the football minds in their squad, I am surprised they didn’t walk off before half time. Company was certainly looking for the exit door hence got pulled!

  • Apo Armani

    Finally – as you say Tony the Media will abstain from any remote chance to aknowledge what quality we have and how it’s been built – we know it, the club knows it, the players ( current and past ) know it so our presence there despite all must really give these media outfits sleepless knights!!

  • bob mac

    Have a good look.

    Arsenal have a far better DMF than Matic, far far better if you really watch with care.