By Bulldog Drummond
Could it be that football is not only taking note of our desire to video refereeing, but also for evidence based commentary?
After so many years of attempts to tell us what we will think in the future (as per “Arsenal fans will be angry if…” it seems hard to believe, and yet in the Independent we now have this…
Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea can expect a positive result on Boxing Day, according to research. However, current Premier League leaders Leicester City may not be feeling so jolly after tomorrow.
According to research?????
When did we last hear that? The only occasions I can think of are the Sun’s dip into referee errors in which they seemingly picked a handful at random to show Arsenal should be top of the league, and the regular quoting of Raymond Verheijen to the effect that all of Arsenal’s injuries are caused by Mr Wenger’s training approach.
But now we are told that Mr Wenger is the most successful Boxing Day manager with a 75% win rate on 26 December.
The trouble is however that the research sort of stops there, for they compare Mr Wenger’s 19 year reign with the statement that “Things also look good for Manchester United and Chelsea. Those two clubs have both won their last three fixtures on Boxing Day”.
So 19 Boxing Days against three. Hmmm. Statistics are clearly not quite the in thing at the Indy.
They also say, “Leicester City, currently two points clear at the top of the table, may have cause to be concerned though. Their manager Claudio Ranieri has never won a Boxing Day fixture.” That’s a bit unfair though because he has spent much of his managerial career in countries where they don’t play on 26 December.
So a bit of false hope then.
What is more interesting is to think back to the Southampton game last season which was on 1 January. It was the height of over-excitement for those who wanted Mr Wenger removed as Southampton won 2-0, and tales of Wojciech Szczesny having a cigarette afterwards.
After the game the table looked like this…
|7||West Ham United||20||9||5||6||31||24||+7||32|
Arsenal were doomed, and were most certainly not going to qualify for Europe, were now officially overtaken by Tottenham, and given that they were 13 points behind the leading two, could no longer be called one of the top clubs. In fact there wasn’t even a top four, it was a top two, and would continue to be so for a long time to come.
Since then, Arsenal have lost only five Premier League matches.
Indeed before today’s round of games the 2015 league looks like this:
|5||The Tiny Totts||36||17||11||8||62||43||19||62|
|7||Oh dear Chelsea||36||17||8||11||53||45||8||59|
|14||West Ham Utd||36||9||14||13||39||45||-6||41|
Seeing that table makes the gibberings of certain primates concerning the lack of outfield signings this summer rather interesting. Most points, second highest scorers, best defence by a mile… it wonders what they are smoking in the homes of the bloggettas, the national press, and come to think of it, Liverpool!
Let me, for a moment, pause on the defensive record for the year thus far:
- Arsenal 27
- Man U 32
- Crystal Palace 37
- Stoke City 38
- Southampton 39
- Man C 75
- Arsenal 68
- Leicester 66
- Tottenham 62
- Chelsea 53
Last three games:
- Southampton 2 (Mane, Tadic) Arsenal 0, Premier League, January 2015
- Arsenal 1 (Sanchez) Southampton 0, Premier League, December 2014
- Arsenal 1 (Sanchez) Southampton 2 (Tadic (pen), Clyne), Capital One Cup, September 2014
- Southampton: LLLDLL
- Arsenal: WDWWWW
Not surprisingly Mr Wenger is walking around with a bit of a smile on him while Ronald Koeman has been talking about this being a difficult couple of weeks. Southampton have only scored on goal in their last five, and likewise taken just one point in the five games.
Mr Koeman also said, “It’s all about results,” which in Arsenal’s case isn’t true. Even half way through 2015 and with the FA Cup won the notorious aaa were calling for him to be sacked.
He went on, “It’s all about the philosophy of the club, the chairman, and the board. It’s still quiet in Southampton but maybe in one month it can be different.
“I do my job, I do my best for the club and do what I have to do, and nothing else. I am of course worried, because it’s a bad run.”
Mr Wenger said, “I believe, for us, the most important is to focus on ourselves. We have not to speculate too much on any weakness of Southampton.
“When you look at their team, they have the potential to be a very strong team. We have to convince ourselves that we again need another top-level performance.”
Next up, the teams etc.
Before that, the anniversaries
- 26 December 1899: Arsenal v Loughborough abandoned. The replay on 12 March 1900 created our biggest ever win.
- 26 December 1970: Arsenal 0 Southampton 0. League match 23 of the first Double season after which Arsenal won every home game during the season. The story is that after the match George Armstrong said to his team mates, “I bet we win the Double”.