Arsenal News
Arsenal News & Transfers
As featured on NewsNow: Arsenal newsArsenal News 24/7

Arsenal News, Only Arsenal, Blogs, Transfer News

Archives

March 2017
M T W T F S S
« Feb    
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
2728293031  

Reasons to be cheerful (1, 2, 3)

By Tony Attwood

I wonder when the notion that we can see one event and then generalise out from there, first started.  Perhaps it is just something inside all our heads, the “if only I could just have one sign from God, then I’d believe” sort of thing.

But by and large, although using single events to judge a broader arena is silly, it is the favoured occupation of the media and bloggettas.   In the real world however most of the time we need some evidence, although the desire to generalise outwards from one example is always there, and has given us everything from nationalism to astrology, from racism to economic forecasting.

So, we lost on the opening day to West Ham and according to Radio 4 this morning that is the end for Arsenal.  No chance of anything, forgetting perhaps that even their eternal favourites Man U has previously won the league after losing at home on the first day.  (I suspect there are other examples, but that’s one I remember).

But still, the Telegraph will never miss a chance to bash us, and so raged in with Arsenal fans go into shouty meltdown after defeat.  I think I might write to the Stadium Manager and suggest that he puts up some signs around the ground saying, “Watch Out, Telegraph Reporter About”.

Supporters react with screaming anguish and internet horror after losing opening game of the Premier League season to West Ham

is just rather insulting, but to be expected of the Telegraph these days.

But looking back, those of us with an ability to remember events longer ago than last week can see that a defeat on the opening day at home is not always a disaster.    For example on 17 August 2013 we had Arsenal 1 Villa 3.  That was followed by five straight wins and overall eight wins and one draw in the next nine.  By the 4th match of the season we were top of the league.  Funny ol’ game.

Of course the ultimate clue to the importance of just losing one match is that before the 49 unbeaten, Arsenal actually had an away season unbeaten, showing that it is possible to develop a style particularly suited to away games.

But going back further to opening defeats I particularly remember 19 August 2000 and Sunderland 1 Arsenal 0 – the first game at the Stadium of Light.  Roger, Ian and I were there and got totally lost trying to find the new stadium largely because we were doing it by looking for the floodlights.

By game five that year we were 5th (2 wins 2 draws and defeat), but ended the season runners up.

It is interesting that some of the people who are against Wenger tend to argue that George Graham was our best manager of all time, although he tended to be a lot more liable to stumble at the start.

14 August 1993 – Arsenal 0 Coventry 3 was one particularly horrible moment I remember, although next up was Tottenham away and we won, as indeed we won the next four.

But at least that year we only lost the opening game.  The year before we lost the first two.   15 August 1992 was Arsenal 2 Norwich 4 (we were 2-0 up), and we then went on and lost the next match (away to Blackburn) and ended up 10th.

Going back further on 19 August 1989 we had Man U 4 Arsenal 1 – a defeat and a half for the opening day, especially galling as we were Champions at the time.  We  won five, drew two of the next seven, suggesting even heavy defeats don’t necessarily dent us.   But there is no regularity to the whole process, because just two years before that, we had (15 August 1987) Arsenal 1 Liverpool 2, followed by a draw away to Man U and a home defeat to QPR .  We came 6th.

In fact I suppose we notice the WHU defeat much more because these days opening day defeats are quite rare under Wenger, whereas in earlier years they were fairly common.  In 1983/4 and 1982/3 we lost the opening games each time, both times to Stoke once at home and once away.

On the other hand in the 1970/1 season we won the double despite drawing both our opening games.

The point that the opening game tells us nothing much at all can be shown to be completely true when we reverse matters and look for great wins at the start.   In 2009/10 we beat Everton 6-1 away on the opening day, and then walloped Portsmouth 4-1 at home, which was as good a start as you can find.   We then lost the next two games and by the fourth match were 8th in the league.

On the other hand in 2007/08 we were undefeated in first 15 games but still ended up third.

The fact is that dips can come anywhere any time, and seasons without a dip are very very rare – much rarer than winning the league.  Take the 1997/8 double season: on October 18 we started a run of six games in five of which we didn’t score.  This was also the start of a run in which we won just four in 12.  But as the title “double season” suggests, we won the league and the cup.

So, using one match to show what will happen next doesn’t work.   What winning seasons usually have is great runs, and the evidence shows that it doesn’t matter too much where the run is, although great runs in the second half of the season tend to be more important than great runs in the first part.

Anniversary of the day: 

  • 10 August 2003: The Independent on Sunday predicted Arsenal would finish 5th, while the Observer had Arsenal to win the league.  The Sunday Times predicted Arsenal to come third.

——————

A Memorial to the founders of Arsenal’s Highbury dynasty.

The launch of a new campaign

————–

The Untold Banner at the Emirates – new update 10 August

————–

21 comments to Reasons to be cheerful (1, 2, 3)

  • Patrick Harrington

    Your eternal optimism has failed to register that following all of those opening day defeats, Arsenal failed to come close to winning the league.

    Maybe we’ll finish 2nd which is better than last season. But judging by Sunday’s performance the team and manager are guilty of all their usual faults which we have seen for umpteen years.

  • Rosicky@Arsenal

    Tony

    Great article on Arsenal history .

    Hope we get back on track after this early hiccup.

  • Kenneth Widmerpool

    I was also at the Sunderland game, sitting up in the stands, everyone going on about Varga all the time,then the Mackems cottoned on that we werent following them, first they asked us if we were students, which is nearly as bad as being called a Spud, but they were pretty friendly enough, and pretty excited about the new stadium. Best fish and chips I ever had before the game.Arsenal were crepe that day for sure, Henry included.
    Start of the 79/80 season we also lost 0-2 to Ipswich.My first game, it was still magic even though we lost.

  • Or put the other way around Patrick, your eternal pessimism failed to appreciate that there is no logic to the results at all. We’ve lost the opening match at home very rarely, but also won the league very rarely, so the chances of the two coinciding are incredibly low.

  • blacksheep63

    thanks for the sensible perspective Tony. Reflecting on Sunday I was disappointed but not discouraged (as some seem to be). We weren’t quick enough and a little bit of complacency was perhaps in evidence. But Wenger’s frustration and anger will be transferred to the team and I’m sure they will use as a reminder that games of football are ‘won’; points are not a given or a right.

    We were a bit unlucky, a bit careless, and on another day we might have gotten away with it. Put it right against Palace and the bin-dippers and all is well in the garden again

  • blacksheep63

    FYI here is the opening sequence from last season
    Burnley 1 – 3 Chelsea
    Newcastle 0 – 2 Man City
    Liverpool 2 – 1 Southampton
    Arsenal 2 – 1 Crystal Palace
    Leicester 2 – 2 Everton
    QPR 0 – 1 Hull
    Stoke 0 – 1 Aston Villa
    West Brom 2 – 2 Sunderland
    West Ham 0 – 1 Spurs
    Man Utd 1 – 2 Swansea

    I recall we struggled against Palace. The press ripped into Utd (who finished 4th) Liverpool beat the outside bet of the season (Saints) but then struggled. QPR and Hull both went down and Spurs started brightly (as they often do) but flattered to deceive.

    You don’t win (or lose) the title in August folks

  • Pete

    I was at the Villa, Cov and Norwich games at home – and also Man U away (now that WAS depressing – particularly Knighton’s antics and Neil Webb having the game of his life).

    Per previous thread, shock results happen more often in football than other sports – that is one of its great attractions contributing to it being the most popular game in the world. It is going to happen from time to time. But, like conceding an early goal, we at least have more time to respond!

    Patrick H – see my comment on the previous thread.

  • George

    What really worries me about yesterday is the same thing that has nagged me all summer. Last season at the Emirates we failed to score against Chelsea, Swansea and Sunderland. At Manchester United, we needed a wicked deflection to get a draw. Those four games (especially that three game winless streak-swansea,united and sunderland) These were games we absolutely needed to win, and we seemed to lack ideas. It seems to me that the other teams have figured out how to play against us. We need to do things differently. After watching the game yesterday,I was left with the same impression. We were not dominated. To make matters worse we were not even seriously threatened through out the game. However, we never put West Ham under serious threat ourselves. I honestly think we need to freshen up the squad.To be sure, we will slaughter some teams but unless we figure out how to do it against these tactics we may nevr come close to the title.

  • SamuelAkinsolaAdebosin.

    I was amassed to see Arsenal succumbed to 0-2 defeat to West Ham yesterday afternoon. Arsenal dug their own graves in that game and entered into it and the Hammers nailed their coffins and bury them is a dramatic fashion. Monreal, Oxlade, Cech, Giroud, Ramsey, walcott, Koscielny and the Boss were the 8 guilty party that took Arsenal to the slaughter and the West Hammers obliged themselves with the offer. I said it on a number of times that Arsenal need a top quality 6 footer plus, left back. Where was Monreal’s challenge as Dimitri Payet’s free-kick was headed in by unchallenged Cheikhou Kouyeite beating Cech misjudgement or lack of enough leaping spring? Would Szczesny have succeeded punching away that header? It was reported in the media that the Boss has discovered Faouzi Ghoulam. I checked his profile on Google and he looks okay. But the Boss hasn’t act. Monreal is good but he hasn’t the top top quality to man Arsenal left back position for title Challenge. With him, we’ll be dropping points unecessarily. What was Oxlade thinking as he was challenging Zarate in the Arsenal 18 yards but suddenly left him to have time & space to test Cech with a grounder that beats him. People says Cech he should have saved that grounder. I won’t dispute it. I hope Jose Mourinho has not secretly planted him at Arsenal to cause us 15 points instead of to save them for us. We will know better latter. Arsenal have 111 BPL points to pursue for a record 100 points total. If Petr Cech does this camouflage of goal keeping again for Arsenal, the Boss should drop him. Otherwise he will cost us the remaining quadruple. One may say he kept our goal successful for us for the Shield. But the Shield is not the title. And it could be a ploy by Jose Mourinho’s design to subvert Arsenal title challenge. Koscielny was heading over. Doesn’t he know the goalpost anymore or his long sighted and Ramsey was virtually ineffective. Giroud and Walcott got improved Arsenal deals and decided to be lack lustered in the game. Ox, Walcott should keep their talking big to themselves. Let them talk big at Selhurst Park on Sunday. Why did the Boss played Cazorla at left wing and Qxlade at right wing? He did that to accommodate Ramsey at the base? Where was Iwobi? For football reason, it should have been Iwobi at right wing, Oxlade at left wing where he performs better that the right wing. Cazorla should have paired Coquelin at the base and widther Gibbs should have started. Iwobi, Oxlade & Gibbs would have given us a good width. The Boss should please and please base his selection on Arsenal football intreast and not to accommodate to please a Gunner intreast.

  • SamuelAkinsolaAdebosin.

    I was amassed to see Arsenal succumbed to 0-2 defeat to West Ham yesterday afternoon. Arsenal dug their own graves in that game and entered into it and the Hammers nailed their coffins and bury them is a dramatic fashion. Monreal, Oxlade, Cech, Giroud, Ramsey, walcott, Koscielny and the Boss were the 8 guilty party that took Arsenal to the slaughter and the West Hammers obliged themselves with the offer. I said it on a number of times that Arsenal need a top quality 6 footer plus, left back. Where was Monreal’s challenge as Dimitri Payet’s free-kick was headed in by unchallenged Cheikhou Kouyeite beating Cech misjudgement or lack of enough leaping spring? Would Szczesny have succeeded punching away that header? It was reported in the media that the Boss has discovered Faouzi Ghoulam. I checked his profile on Google and he looks okay. But the Boss hasn’t act. Monreal is good but he hasn’t the top top quality to man Arsenal left back position for title challenge. With him, we’ll be dropping points unecessarily. What was Oxlade thinking as he was challenging Zarate in the Arsenal 18 yards but suddenly left him to have time & space to test Cech with a grounder that beats him. People says Cech should have saved that grounder. I won’t dispute it. I hope Jose Mourinho has not secretly planted him at Arsenal to cause us 15 points instead of to save them for us. We will know better latter. Arsenal have 111 BPL points to pursue for a record 100 points total. If Petr Cech does this camouflage of goal keeping again for Arsenal, the Boss should drop him. Otherwise he will cost us the remaining quadruple titles. One may say he kept our goal successful for us for the Shield. But the Shield is not the title. And it could be a ploy by Jose Mourinho’s design to subvert Arsenal title challenge. Koscielny was heading over. Doesn’t he know the goalpost anymore or he’s long sighted and Ramsey was virtually ineffective. Giroud and Walcott got improved Arsenal deals and decided to be lack lustered in the game. Ox, Walcott should keep their talking big to themselves. Let them talk big at Selhurst Park on Sunday. Why did the Boss play Cazorla at left wing and Qxlade at right wing? He did that to accommodate Ramsey at the base? Where was Iwobi? For football reason, it should have been Iwobi at right wing, Oxlade at left wing where he performs better that the right wing. Cazorla should have paired Coquelin at the base and widther Gibbs should have started. Iwobi, Oxlade & Gibbs would have given us a good width. The Boss should please and please base his selection on Arsenal football intreast and not to accommodate to please a Gunner intreast.

  • Patrick Harrington

    And what about the usual traits of poor defending, especially at set pieces along with being unable to break down a stubborn defence? These have been evident for a number of seasons now and have resulted in Arsenal regularly losing to teams like West Ham which, ultimately, result in finishing 3rd or 4th.

    Why is this season any different to the last 5 or 6 seasons?

    Even signing a fantastic goalkeeper can’t stop the defensive frailties.

  • Pete

    Patrick – Please provide evidence of our “poor defending at set pieces”. In particular, what percentage of goals do we concede from set pieces (compared to other teams) and what is the absolute number of goals conceded from set pieces compared to other teams? I have a hunch that you are wrong – but you made the assertion so it is for you to justify…

  • nicky

    The only fact we can be sure of after Sunday is that in 2015/2016 Arsenal cannot now equal the Invincibles’ year.
    Such a relatively minor statistic will have little effect on our progress in the hunt for 4 trophies this season. In fact to get rid of the “burden” of being undefeated at home could easily turn out to be a blessing in disguise.
    Those of little faith should remember that 37 games remain in the EPL alone. Much joy and sorrow will confront us between now and next May, no doubt in equal measure. Yet there is much to look forward to in the performances of all who wear the shirt. 😉

    http://untold-arsenal.com/archives/45508#

  • Blacksheep

    I loved Samuel’s comment “People says Cech should have saved that grounder. I won’t dispute it. I hope Jose Mourinho has not secretly planted him at Arsenal to cause us 15 points instead of to save them for us. We will know better latter. Arsenal have 111 BPL points to pursue for a record 100 points total. If Petr Cech does this camouflage of goal keeping again for Arsenal, the Boss should drop him. Otherwise he will cost us the remaining quadruple titles. One may say he kept our goal successful for us for the Shield. But the Shield is not the title. And it could be a ploy by Jose Mourinho’s design to subvert Arsenal title challenge.”

    I must say the same crazed thought passed through my head on Sunday – can Cech really make such mistakes? Is he a mole? Did we really land a man on the moon? Was JFK killed by Bob Dylan?

    that way, madness lies….

  • soglorious

    Tony, thanks for the article. Old age really brings wisdom . I hope your accommodating spirit won’t fade out seeing these younger and impatient generation crying end of the world due to a lost game.
    @Samuel, please stop commenting twice. And please try and apply for AW’s job since u seems to know more about football management than him.
    For those who think this defeat is the end, be ready for the shock of your life
    @BlackSheep, I concur with your submission bro , We are all disappointed but not discouraged .
    COYG.

  • Pete

    Patrick – thanks. Fair enough.

    But you mentioned “several” seasons in your comment, followed by “five or six”. I agree with you that one season is not long enough but five or six is plenty – or certainly since Mertesacker and Koscielny have been playing regularly together. So at least two.

  • Menace

    I feel Oooooooooospina is a better fit in our defence than Cech. That’s not saying one is better than the other – just that Cech has not yet understood our game.

    The 2 goals were savable & should have not happened. The second goal was like we had stopped & allowed Wet Sham the freedom of the Ems. That is no excuse for the poor finishing & bad luck at the other end. Our shooting is low & central. Shots to the top corners are more effective. All should be on target though because the wages demand it. Our team play was beautiful at times but some moves failed at crucial times.

    Our banner needs to hang for us to start the Art work for this season.

    There are no signs of our Sheild wins nor of the pre-season trophies. Thankfully they are just tempters for a bigger feast.

  • Laen

    Tony, it’s not in one result though is it?

    We have only managed to win one game out of the last 5 at home in the league ( this includes the end of last season Tony ) we have failed to score a single goal in 4 of those games, with big Olly being the main culprit for missing chances . He also missed them against Monaco at home this resulted in us losing 3-1 due to having to chase the game. Henry is right,Giroud is not good enough ,a bottler who goes down for a big guy far too easily and all that moaning at the ref faking injuries and pained expressions is just sooo.. embarrassing…. Then we have Wally newly promoted to ,well actually still just a sub starting on the bench, but getting paid 140k a week to do that. A proper striker is obviously required but this is Arsene Wenger we are taking here running Stan’s business plan – a move for Benzema would cost in total- with his wages – £60m . Things will have to get desperate before Stan sanctions that and time is running out

  • TailGunner

    I went to one of those first match defeats in 1976 when newly promoted Bristol City beat us 0-1. It certainly wasn’t a preclusion to a successful season as we finished mid table. Ironically City are my second team these days as I live less than an hour from their ground and attend a few games a season if they don’t clash with Arsenal matches.

  • para

    George
    “It seems to me that the other teams have figured out how to play against us.”

    This has been so since 1-2 seasons, and is a cause for distress. YET, NO one can beat us if we are focused and want to win, even if they have sussed out our way of playing. I noticed they all are starting to use a 3-4-3 formation. The 4 man diamond in the middle as midfielders. Before they used to push us and kick us, but now Arsenal give as good as they get. I noticed that we hardly have any wing play anymore. We used to devastate teams with our wingers, but besides that, we have many possibilities today to play in many different ways and formations depending on the opposition and their managers tactics.
    Sadly we do not seem to use that addition to our game much. Yet i see a marked movement towards interchangeable forwards, but it is still not perfect yet, some are changing position without being aware of the other players being aware of the change and it leaves a hole that can be exploited.

    Nicky 🙂
    I had wondered, and obviously you too. I wonder if AW had thought the same thing, hence his selection. 🙂 This was probably one of the “swim or sink” exercises that he sometimes uses? Now the heat is off, and we can get on with our game among the usual disrespect the pundits and media throws our way.

    Menace:
    “I feel Oooooooooospina is a better fit in our defence than Cech. That’s not saying one is better than the other – just that Cech has not yet understood our game.”

    (For some reason i have always felt an aura of calmness when Ospina was in the sticks from his first game).

    Although true, Cech is experienced enough to command his back four and make them do what he wants them to do, which he did not, so no excuses. (You know i WAS not too sold on that buy but that is besides the point now).

    Laen:
    Are you not clear that AW is doing exactly that what his bosses want? They would not pay him that amount of money or keep on employing him if he was not. All this talk about AW doing what he wants is wrong. He is doing what the Boss of Arsenal wants. One thing you must be clear on, any replacement of AW will be almost a “clone” of him, that is, having to do what the bosses of Arsenal want.

    Arsenal is going their way of becoming a football institution, it takes years and years to build something solid, this is what they are doing. With every year, Arsenal finances grow and when they deem it(already happening) they will buy who they want to if the player is available. AVAILABLE being the operative word here.