By Bulldog Drummond
I rather like the new phrase on Untold Arsenal: “Evidence based football reporting”, and as anticipated a survey of the media this morning shows very little of it. Endless opinion of course, but very very few stats. Indeed the few that I have found seem to involve journalists knocking Arsene Wenger because he got a stat wrong.
That stat, which I haven’t had time this morning to check, was the one relating to Ospina’s appearances last season and how many were clean sheets. Sneer-sneer go the journalists, Wenger got it wrong, although so it seems have most of the journalists, in that they disagree with each other. I think it all depends if you just include League games, and if you just include games after he took over as number 1 keeper.
Except no one actually tells us what they are measuring – and that’s the point of evidence based football reporting. You actually reveal what you are counting up, and then give the source and the total and draw a conclusion.
Amy Lawrence, in the Guardian, didn’t even get near that yesterday with “Arsène Wenger: Arsenal’s Champions League experience means nothing as same old naivety continues”. It was a total piece of opinion. And there’s nothing wrong with that as long as there’s some factual basis lurking in their somewhere to back up the phrase “same old naivety”, but there wasn’t.
Elsewhere Mr W said (or “insists” as the press now put it, to emphasise that the man is so discredited in the eyes of the Opinionariat that even his statements are to treated with disbelief, no matter what they are) he never made a move for Anthony Martial this summer – because Monaco told him he was not for sale.
Now I wonder, what is the point of interviewing someone, if you are going to suggest in your write up they are not telling the truth? Why bother with the interview in the first place? Why not just go out and make it all up.
Oh, hang on….
The Independent has had a whizzo idea of getting “The Fans View” although the lack of an apostrophe makes it unclear whether it is the view of one fan or all the fans. Of course it is the former and should be “The Fan’s View” although actually that still makes no sense. “A single fan’s view” is a bit better.
“Who plays at centre back? God only knows at the moment. They all look so weak,” is a prime part of the writer’s contribution. Which seems rather unfair. Gabriel in particular has looked anything but weak of late – indeed his contribution against the PGMO in the match at Stamford Bridge can hardly be called weak. What on earth did the writer mean? It is hard to work out. Maybe some of his commentary was lost by the journalist. Or perhaps he was told “Don’t mention the ref!”
And indeed it has been a week of having a go at Arsenal players. The latest in the press on Per Mertesacker is that he is “rusty” or suffers from “rustiness”. Quite what that means I am not sure but apparently it is a determining factor.
Although I quite liked the commentary in the Telegraph that read
“Arsenal and Manchester United remain two of only four clubs who are strong enough to stand absolutely any chance of winning a title until the next oil-rich Sheikh with an eye for gaudy lion adorned silverware comes along. And, perhaps, the influx of such money can help to explain why, despite the fact that the stakes are the same this Sunday, the intensity is so different now. Arsenal and United’s sky-high ambitions were always the same, if that was not the case there would be no rivalry, but until recently their difference in identity helped to fuel the hatred.
“Now, there is less to separate the pair. As Chelsea and Manchester City lurch from one transfer window to the next, forced to ensure the bothersome situation of actually having to play some football in between spending multi-millions on glamour players not quite glamorous enough to play in La Liga (yet); and as Liverpool and Tottenham continue attempting to figure out life without a mercurial superstar, balancing occasionally encouraging Premier League performances with underwhelming midweek 1-1 draws in the Europa League; so too do parallels exist between Arsenal and Manchester United.”
Utterly cynical of course, but at least the writing is quite engaging.
Laurent Koscielny is out with a hamstring injury. Mathieu Flamini and Mikel Arteta are still out with their injuries.
Here’s the list with predicted return dates
- Arteta (17 October),
- Flamini (17 October),
- Koscielny (24 October),
- Wilshere (December),
- Welbeck (February),
- Rosicky (no date available)
For Man U, Herrera and McNair are said to be doubtful and Rojo and Shaw are injured.
Here is the injury league table from Physio Room.
|TEAM||TOTAL INJURIES||LATEST PLAYER INJURED|
|1||Newcastle United||10||G Obertan|
|4||Crystal Palace||6||D Delaney|
|5||Tottenham Hotspur||6||D Rose|
|6||West Bromwich Albion||6||D Fletcher|
|7||Aston Villa||5||C Clark|
|10||Manchester City||5||Y Toure|
|11||West Ham United||5||A Carroll|
|12||Manchester United||4||A Herrera|
|13||Stoke City||4||M Diouf|
|15||Norwich City||3||L Grabban|
|18||Leicester City||2||N Dyer|
The Red and Yellow game
We haven’t really done that much on red and yellow cards thus far in the previews – apart from the indiscipline of referees of course and their consequent inability to give the right card to the right person in the right match. So since we are into evidence based football writing, here are some bits and pieces.
Those papers that report reds and yellows tend to do so without any broader reference to anything. As in…
- Arsenal: Y8 R2
- Man U: Y9 R0
Which doesn’t tell us much because we don’t know if this is high or low. So here is the whole fair play table to date – note the position of State Aid Utd who won the Fair Play League for Europe last season…
It is three for a red and one for a yellow.
|3||State Aid United||12||3||21|
|7||West Bromwich Albion||19||0||19|
Moving on, what of the match?
Manchester United’s 2-1 victory in the corresponding fixture last season was their first away win under Louis van Gaal.
But this season they come to the game without a defeat in the last four league meetings at the Emirates (W2, D2). On the other hand they have never gone five games unbeaten at Arsenal in the Premier League era.
Yet they are the team historically we find the hardest to beat in the PL era – our win percentage against them is only 24%.
The last three games turned out as…
- Manchester United 1 (Herrera) Arsenal 1 (Blackett OG), Premier League, May 2015.
- Manchester United 1 (Rooney) Arsenal 2 (Monreal, Welbeck), FA Cup, March 2015.
- Arsenal 1 (Giroud) Manchester United 2 (Gibbs OG, Rooney), Premier League, November 2014.
Our problem is that the whinging and whining of “fans” (I use the word lightly) at the Emirates this season is now at such an intensity whipped up by the emotional commentariat that we don’t look fully comfortable at the Ems. We’ve just won at home once this season, and indeed have only won two of the last seven home games we have played.
But trying to find a nice theme within this all, no one has more Premier League assists than Santi Cazorla. 32 since he joined Arsenal in August 2012.
Manchester United are of course top of the league – the first time they have been there since May 2013, and they are in the habit of scoring – they have scored three in four of their last six games.
At the other end the have let in a total of zero goals in four of their last six games. But then at the moment Rooney is only scoring once every 1000 minutes so it is not all bad news.
We are however undefeated in 35 of the last 38 games
Bellerin, Mertesacker, Gabriel, Monreal
Ramsey Ozil Sanchez
On the beach in the glorious October sunshine:
Ospina, Debuchy, Gibbs, Chambers, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Giroud, Campbell
Right time to pack the sandwiches and make the long trek south.
- Arsenal vs Manchester Utd. Expect elbowing and wrestling with impunity.
- PGMO: how long do we have to put up with this useless organisation?
- Gary Neville the telepathic footballer, and the drive towards evidence based analysis
- 4 October 1997: Ian Wright’s last goal at Highbury in 5-0 win over Barnsley as Arsenal remained unbeaten with a third of the season gone, and Bergkamp is in his pomp and glory. 10th league game of the 2nd Double Season The second double: part 1, part 2, part 3.
- 4 October 2009: Having started the season so well, then faltered, Arsenal recover beating Blackburn 6-2. Each goal was scored by a different player: Vermaelen, Van Persie, Arshavin, Fabregas, Walcott, Bendtner.