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October 2016
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Now even the media is starting to recognise just how amazing this Arsenal team really is

By Tony Attwood

Let us never forget, let us never ever forget, let us never, ever, ever, ever forget that through this summer the manic hysteria of demented wildcats howling under the full moon told us constantly that Arsenal had to buy-buy-buy-buy etc etc.  We were the only THE ONLY team this side of Lesser Magellanic Cloud (a spiral dwarf galaxy 200,000 light years away) that did not sign an outfield player this summer.

Mr Wenger was shown up, Arsenal were going to sink to mid-table at best, and then we would get a real manager like that Mourinho bloke in the Kings Road.

Since then I’ve been publishing extracts from articles in the press and from where the best players so far this season are evaluated, as well as looking back to the predictions journalists made for this season during the summer.   If you are at all interested and missed it you might care to take a peek (when not searching the sky for the Lesser Magellanic Cloud) at Who are the best players in the Premier League and how many are at Arsenal?

But of course, those ranged against the optimism that exists in my house tucked away in the Northamptonshire countryside, will still be saying “it won’t last”.

So I thought I would give a few more extracts from the utterly wonderful British media.

Here is the Guardian’s team of the season in England, thus far.   You might, if you peer carefully, spot three red dots in there for Bellerin, Monreal and Ozil.  You might also spot that no other club has three players in that selected team.

Our Premier League team of the season so far.

Here is what the august daily says of our men…

Héctor Bellerín (Arsenal)

“Another young Spaniard about whom there were once questions over Premier League suitability. It is less than a year since Bellerín was “abandoned” by Per Mertesacker to endure a gruelling ordeal in a bruising Arsenal defeat by Stoke at the Britannia Stadium. Bellerín has gone on not only to prove he can cut it in the Premier League but that he is a cut above most other defenders. And he contributes plenty in attack, too, thanks to blinding speed and smart choices. At 20 he offers ample scope to get even better, and it is an encouraging sign that in matches where it had initially looked as if his rapid opponent might get the better of him – Jefferson Montero at Swansea, for example (or Douglas Costa against Bayern Munich) – he has quickly risen to the challenge and come out emphatically on top.”

Although I am not sure about the “abandoned by Per” bit, I most certainly have not been able to put it better myself.   But moving on…

Nacho Monreal (Arsenal)

“When it comes to left-backs, we should recall the promising start made to the season by Luke Shaw before that unfortunate injury, and also note the unsurprisingly excellent form by Ryan Bertrand since his return from injury, but most of all we should acknowledge the quiet efficiency with which Monreal has secured the position at Arsenal, where he was once considered second-choice behind Kieran Gibbs. He has played every minute of every league game so far this season and has seemed tougher, more confident and more reliable than ever.”

I most certainly… oh sorry I said that about Bellerín.  Let’s move on.

Mesut Özil (Arsenal)

“Özil was brilliant when he first arrived at Arsenal and then he seemed to shrivel up and disappear. He is back. And he may be better than ever. He says bulking up has helped withstand attempts to bash him off his stride. What is clear is that he is now a much more regular influence on matches, with his vision and precision integral to Arsenal. He has forged a particularly delightful understanding with Alexis Sánchez, as memorably showcased in the destruction of Manchester United, but even when the Chilean has been below par, Özil has kept probing and prising opponents apart.”

The Guardian, apart from being fastidious when it comes to putting accents in on players’ names, even has a beach for its team and here we have…

Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal) He was ropey in the north London derby but has mostly been superb this season.

OK so that was the Guardian, pinko lefty radical paper and as such rather a good read on social matters.  But what about the old colonels and retired vicars reading the Telegraph.  Now they don’t do accents in players’ names which they consider a dirty trick to undermine the British backbone.  So surely they can’t agree with all this?

Well, they’ve just done a piece on “Who creates the most chances”.  In the top 3 (yes the top three) Arsenal have taken positions 1 and 3!

Santi Cazorla – 35 chances created

“The incredible thing about Santi Cazorla ranking third in this list is that he isn’t even the best at Arsenal in this regard. Nonetheless, the diminutive Spaniard has created 35 chances from his deep-lying midfield role, with technique on both feet that few can rival.”

Mesut Özil – 54 chances created

“There are few superlatives left to fairly describe Ozil’s incredible beginning to the 2015/16 season. He has 10 assists – that’s four more than any other player – and has set up a goal in six consecutive appearances, which is a Premier League record.

“Of the 54 chances he has created (which, by the way, is also the most in Europe’s ‘big five’ leagues), 12 are deemed ‘clear cut’ by the football statisticians at Opta. That tally is more than seven of the Premier League’s 20 teams, including reigning champions, Chelsea. Incredible.”

So, the summer ravers are saying, the press has gone loopy, but what about the people who really do the statistics?  People like Who who do their “Who scored team of the month in the entire Western Spiral Arm of the Galaxy” (or at least Europe).

In that XI for October Arsenal have… three.  That is three in the whole of Europe.

  • Koscielny 3 clean sheets, 2 goals, 3 games
  • Monreal 33 tackles and interceptions
  • Özil 6 assists 18 chances in four games

Barcelona has two in the team and all the other clubs have one.

OK, that was a blip, an oddity, a strange malfunction, a “you can prove anything with stats”, a trick of the light.   What happens when you look at the Whoscored top 20 rated players in Europe.

Well, that’s got us five of our players listed.   Yes five of the current Arsenal team are listed in the top 20 rated players in Europe.

  • Özil, Koscielny, Alexis, Monreal, Santi Cazorla.

Hell, we even get an entry in the “Over 30s” team with Mertesacker.

OK, so it is all very well having top players but you still have to meld them into a team, scream the mob now getting ready to book the next shuttle to the second moon of Pluto (whose name currently escapes me) or Milton Keynes to watch Tottenham (whichever is the closer).

The Top teams in Europe

R Team Shots pg Discipline Possn% PassSuccess% AerialsWon Rating
1 Real Madrid 20.4 200 56.5 87.5 10.1 7.29
2 Bayern Munich 19.6 171 67.9 89.1 15.1 7.24
3 Paris Saint Germain 15.3 171 63.3 89.9 13.8 7.23
4 Arsenal 18.4 122 55.9 84.9 15.3 7.21
5 Barcelona 17.5 201 61.5 86.0 12.2 7.14
6 Borussia Dortmund 15.8 110 59.6 83.6 21.1 7.12
7 Manchester City 18.4 240 56.4 85.1 15.8 7.06
8 Lyon 16.2 180 60.2 84.5 17.7 7.02
9 Atletico Madrid 13.2 340 50.7 80.7 16.8 7.01
10 Tottenham 15.8 270 52.7 80.5 14.5 7.01

“OK OK OK OK OK OK OK,” I hear the voices in my head shout, but we still ain’t got a forward…

This is what the Telegraph said about Giroud

With a goal every 88 minutes, he is scoring more frequently than any other player this season. Since the last international break – during which he scored twice in a 2-1 win over Denmark – Giroud has hit three goals in 200 minutes of Premier League action.

He is finding the target with 58 per cent of his shots and scoring with 23 per cent – both of those rates compare favourably with a certain Sergio Aguero. Giroud is also scoring every 42.5 touches of the ball, an incredible rate that highlights his current lethal streak given how much Arsenal tend to dominate possession. They have touched the ball more times than any other team this season – nearly 800 times per game.

But surely, as I pointed out before, there must be some dig, some negativity, something that says that he has eaten his grandmother and hunted whales.

The Frenchman works brilliantly in Arsenal’s set-up. There are few strikers around who hold the ball up as well as Giroud, and his link play is crucial to bringing the likes of Ozil, Sanchez and Aaron Ramsey into the game with their runs from midfield.

So as I noted, it is fairly amazing stuff after all that has gone before.  But it goes even further as the writer claims, “Ozil has been Arsenal’s star this season but they also have Giroud to thank.”

They suggest that the movement of Theo to the centre forward spot has pushed Giroud harder.  Both players scored in the cup final, Giroud lost his place to Theo, and now is back fighting.

It is amazing stuff, and I hope it helps to convince even the people who still go to matches and shout SECOND BALL ARSENAL all 90 minutes long (or actually 85 minutes because they always leave early),


And yes I will re-publish this and answer for my sins at the end of the season if I am wrong.

Recent Tales

Welcome to the new world: Football 2030/31 season

Wenger confirm(s) super signing will be made; Mourinho sacked; Blogetta roundup

Arsenal in the 70s, part 3: The Golden Treble

Anniversary selection

  • 12 November 2005: Death of Joe Wade aged 84  After playing 91 games for Arsenal he left in 1956 he returned to Hereford (then in the Southern League) as player-manager, having played 91 league and cup games for Arsenal.  At Hereford he picked up some notable cup victories against league sides and won the Southern League and Cup double.  He left in 1962 to develop his sports shop business, but returned briefly in 1971 after John Charles left the club in 1971.
  • 12 November 2007.   The win at Reading included Arsenal’s 1,000th Premier League goal, scored by Adebayor.  Flamini and Hleb got the other two in a 3-1 victory.

Arsenal on this Day – the full list of anniversaries can be found here

30 comments to Now even the media is starting to recognise just how amazing this Arsenal team really is

  • CB

    We would be top if Mike Dean hadn’t f*cked us over and had done what he should have and sent Costa off and not Gabriel. Worth mentioning every time we consider this season’s table.

    A good run of lower placed teams plus City at home and Southampton away, up to the New Year. We have a decent chance to be top then though have more away matches against the big clubs in the second half of the season.

  • serge

    Good article Tony.
    I wondered when you’d notice the good press we’re getting.
    Keep it up!

  • WalterBroeckx

    Yes CB we should mention this on any occasion we can as Dean screwed us over that day and just imagine if we miss out on the title at the end of the season by less than 3 points….

  • Mandy Dodd

    Yes, the press can be capable of relatively sober, objective analysis.
    But they are also incredible knee jerk as well, witness the drivel written after the game last weekend against Ajax1971/Brazil 1970……..sorry Tottenham.
    But still , good to see the players getting some recognition.Only a matter of time before some “fans ” come on here with a yes….but none of this equates to a trophy etc etc, these being the fans that don’t recognise the trophies we actually win of course

  • Mandy Dodd

    I am sure we havent seen the last of the Dean like performances. Would add that Ramsey goal against Liverpool, though that could just about join the realms of genuine mistakes.
    The title went to London last year……time to send it back to Manchester for Mr Riley?

  • CB

    Agreed Walter, it bugs me a lot, there were 100,000+ people that signed a petition on against Mike Dean refereeing us but it seems to have been ignored by the press, the FA etc.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Dean for City anyone? 😉

  • Nonny

    Well written Tony. I was discussing this exact topic with a friend and this was what I told him

    Just thinking about the makeup of every team without sentiments and Injury, I think Arsenal has arguably the best team in the league irrespective of the amount used to buy the players and throw them together.

    Looking at the various departments of the game GK – Petr Cech is among the top 3
    CB – Koscielny is among the top 3
    LB – Monreal is the best and most consistent
    RB- Bellarin is the best and a revelation
    DM – Coquelin is arguably the best based on statistics.
    AM – Ozil the best by miles
    LWF – Sanchez has no rival
    Apart from these 7 listed, we also have Ramsey who runs more miles per game than any other player in the league, Cazorla who has made more passes than any other player in the league, Merts as one of the most experienced defenders with over 100 Int’l caps with a World Cup winner’s medal and finally Giroud with the best goal/min ratio in the league.

    Tell me if there is another team in the league that can boast of such awesome team irrespective of how much they cost. We all just need for them to continue to clique together and stay injury free and the league is surely ours.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Talking about media… in Belgium….

    A few days ago Olivier Guillou died who was 51 years young of a heart attack. Now he was a former football manager who last season managed a team in Belgium in the Jupiler League. So it is normal that this get mentions on the sport pages of the news papers.
    But apparently one news paper in Belgium managed to make a complete mix up and they wrote today that “Olivier Giroud, age 51, died of a cardic arrest last night. ”

    So we are bound to buy a new striker in the January transfer window I guess….

    Well the good news for our own Olivier Giroud is that there is a saying in Dutch that if you are wrongly declared dead by accident you will live a hundred years….

  • shakabula gooner

    I just feel that The Guardian selection process hadn’t been fair to Coq, Kos and Carzola in their respective positions. At least two of these three should have also made the list.

  • nicky

    The most encouraging aspect about our progress so far is that it has been achieved without a number of key players.
    If we can continue in the same fashion until the New Year (when we should be at full strength, plus possible new signings)the future will look bright indeed. 😉

  • proudkev

    Good article Tony.

    But its not just this season, we are top in goals conceded and points won if you base that on the start of the year. The start of the year is nrelevant because that was really when the current team was formed, with young Bellerin and Coquelin finding their feet and the back 4 stabilised after all those injuries.

    This is a very good Arsenal team that will only get better. Why? Because of the players we will have returning. These lads will be fit and avaialable for the run in, a period where we usually do very well.

    Wenger is unfortunatley judged by what journalists or fans would do, the ‘Fantasy Football Managers’. The EA Sports and ‘Dream Team’ playing crowd. If Wenger does not do what they want, then he is automatically wrong and derided. Winning the Wenger way is perceived as Wengers arrogance, not his brilliance. So best not to praise someone who keeps proving you wrong.

    That is the reason why this team will not get the credit it deserves from a section of the fan base and the media.

    I always laugh when they call him stubborn just because he doesnt do what they think he should do (Based on their expert knowledge). He’s not stubborn at all – he just knows what he is doing. It would be like your average DIY’er telling Isambard Kingdom Brunel how to build a bridge.

  • WalterBroeckx

    OFF TOPIC: Former Premier League goalkeeper Hungarian Marton Fulop has died from cancer at the age of just 32.

    OMG that is terrible news to hear…

  • proudkev

    Very sad Walter.

    Must be awful for his family.

    Puts thing into perspective.

  • finsbury

    Sad news about Martin Fulop. So young.

  • Al

    Sad news regarding Fulop, may his soul rest in peace.

    Good article Tony. If only the media hacks would admit they got it wrong. Pires also had about 5 of this current team in his all-time Arsenal X1, so another pointer to how good this current side is. And yes, Mandy & CB, we should be 6 points ahead of City had dean and whoever officiated the game against Liverpool done the right thing. Imagine we have just played over a 3rd of our matches, and 6 points stolen already! Wenger definitely won the title at least 2 or 3 times since 2004, but got robbed each time (I’m positive of 2008 and last year).

  • finsbury

    How did the writers for the Manchester Evening Grunt leave Alexis out of their team, not even on the bench! Ok, he was a little bit tired the last two games.

    And of course i am biased. Why should I not be?
    However Alexis still has 6 in 12 in the PL. Payet the non-english player who sadly picked up a big injury that wasn’t reported in all the gibberish articles about too many injuries to English players has five, whilst having had a rest during the last two inter-lulls whilst Alexis has been off doing his superman impersonation for Chile. Payet’s had a good Autumn but it was Alexis who was scoring goals against Brazil as well as in the PL.

    They’re having a larf!

  • finsbury

    Dean for City?

    I blooming well hope not *gollum gollum*.

    What are the odds?

    If I was a punter I’d have made a fortune over the last few seasons betting on which of Riley’s Crooked Crows we’d get in big AFC games after having read this blog. Hmmmmm.

  • finsbury

    I think Mr.Mourinho picked the wrong official when he said:
    “Wenger was right about you!”

    Mr. Moss did the cup final ahead of odds on favourite Clattenburg and to be fair on the day we were all impressed that he applied the rules. The Villa owner was not, but then he shouldn’t have been watching replays of “Dean cup finals” in the lead up to the game.

    AFC appeared to be so impressed with this officials performance compared with, say, the bizarre and remarkable actions of Probert the year before that they took Mr.Moss on holiday to Asia with them! 🙂 Just kidding. I think.
    We then saw Mr.Moss again in the Supercup game which alongside the Cech move precipitated the meltdown at Gazcorp-upon-Fulham.

    Nope. I’m guessing, and it’s a safe guess, that Mr.Wenger does not think that Mr.Moss is as “soft” as some others.

  • finsbury

    Moss also did the pre-season/Emirates cup haha 😉

  • finsbury

    The Bleeb leads with this story. Another FA press release?
    ‘The FA said in a statement: “The FA, in conjunction with United Kingdom Anti-Doping (Ukad), operates one of the most comprehensive anti-doping testing programmes in the world.”‘

    A quick search will show you articles, on the BBC, about WADA’s concerns with FIFA/football testing.

    “Fifa warned over Wada drugs rule
    The World Anti-Doping Agency has warned world football’s governing body Fifa that it will not get special treatment over the drug-testing of its players…relations strained when Blatter called Wada a virtual police force”

    “World Anti-Doping Agency’s president, John Fahey, and director-general, David Howman, (say) that the game’s testing procedures are not rigorous enough….While in Spain the trial of Dr Eufemiano Fuentes has begun to draw football into the alleged doping net, the game is as yet free of a proven major scandal. Wada suggested this is because the testing is insufficiently rigorous; football itself countered that it is”

  • Al

    Sorry my earlier post referred to us having played just over a 3rd, when it should read just under a third, and at that rate we will lose 18 by season end… Sounds far fetched? Don’t think so; given we would sometimes have dean 5 times in one season it’s fair to conclude we got robbed of around 18 points per season if you factor in a few appearances by Atkinson and performances such as Dowd’s at Newcastle…

  • Kenneth Widmerpool

    Fins, ever thought about supplying some of your posts to Private Eye? I think they would like them…

  • Norman14

    Sorry, a bit off topic. But it appears that the FA have asked Arsene to explain his comments about doping in the EPL.

    Is this typical FA as in “shoot the messenger” or “have a go at Arsenal”.?

  • finsbury


    No! I’d have to learn how to type and spell for starters…

  • finsbury


    I’ve only just seen the Arsebloggers thoughts in this matter but for me he sums it all up very well, including a consideration of the absurd schedules that broadcasters and administrators impose upon the atheletes

  • Goéland

    finsbury, that was indeed a fine read, and those are very sensible thoughts when it comes to doping (I think he could have elaborated some more on the creatine issue, though, because the subtleties are important there).

    Norman, for me it´s the FA covering their noxious asses, their usual as of late. Look at what happened to Heather Rabbatts, for instance. With the ongoing FIFA scandal, there´s been a lot more media scrutiny on how football is governed, so the FA are being very, very defensive when it comes to anything that could impugn their image. Doping in England? Why, never! How dare Mr Wenger besmirch the good name of the birthplace of fair play! Cue the indignant chatter of the politicking FA goons. The fact that it´s Wenger and Arsenal is secondary, although of course it must make them particularly glad to think they can make him sweat.

    On the topic of Özil, there´s a very enlightening article on how his play has evolved since his arrrival at the club here: The Stats Zone charts are just amazingly instructive.

  • Norman14


    A petition with 100,000 signatures earns it’s author the right to present it to parliament for debate!

    Maybe time to take it to Corbyn – and invite all the media along.

  • Norman14

    More media “news” this morning..

    “Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has given Arsenal a massive boost by posting a video of himself in training.” says the Express

    I hope the club know he is training with them – it would be terrible if nobody saw him – DOH!

  • karthik G

    We have to good squad ok…rather great squad…but I revel only when we have a squad who can conquer europe and bring that sort of fear where ever we play…