By Tony Attwood
Before I answer that question (and if you are impatient, the answer is here, but at the end) let me prove our current success.
Let’s start with the final table for the 2015 calendar year reads thus…
|3||The Tiny Totts||38||19||11||8||67||44||23||68|
Upon inspection you may find that Arsenal are not only top of the league but also by quite a sizeable chunk. Interesting though that Tottenham have got up to third after years of perennially being stuck in 5th or 6th. Interesting too that whichever way you look at it, Liverpool! are a mid-table club.
And here’s two more things: best goal difference and best defence. And that at a time when every single bloggetta and every journalist was criticising Arsenal for not buying players. Even with half the squad injured and no suitable back ups (according to the media) we still have the best goal difference and best defence.
Indeed what about Mertersacker? Endlessly hounded by the, well, hounds of the media I suppose is the right expression, for being tooooooo slow and yet here he is captaining and playing in the best defence throughout 2015.
But they don’t give trophies for calender years, so what of the real table? Here’s the top ten.
|7||West Ham United||19||7||8||4||28||23||5||29|
Not the strongest defence in the league this season – that goes to Tottenham, and only the third best attack – and this gives the clue as to the effect on the team of the injuries. We are using efficiency to get the results, because the flamboyance given to us by Alexis has been removed temporarily.
The Five Things we learned since we last learned Five Things
Now we can do the five things we have learned as a result of yesterday’s football.
- The media cannot bring themselves to say “Arsenal is top of the league” instead the new phrase they are saying is “Leicester are level on points”
- While Wenger is “forced to make changes” Ranieri “is not afraid to experiment.” If you are writing about football it is vitally important you get that right.
- “Ex-Man United midfielder says Van Gaal wrong to let Hernandez leave” is the Independent’s lead story in its Arsenal section which must prove something but I am not sure what.
- The media is waking up to the fact that buying players is not the solution (see below).
- Özil is the new Bergkamp, only different.
Going back to point four the Telegraph actually has a list of all the worst buys of the last transfer window. Obviously Arsenal don’t figure because we only bought Cech and he is officially a “good thing” at the moment.
Anyway, the Telegraph lists 20 awful purchases from the summer, and that in itself is new – a couple of years back no one ever admitted any purchase of any player was anything other than the right thing to do.
The disasters are fairly evenly spread among teams but the winners in the disaster league are Chelsea and Man U each with three from their summer spending. Or put another way, 30% of the worst buys came from just two clubs.
One of the Chelsea transfers is a loan, but is included because of the cost to Chelsea of the “loan”.
The worst transfers of the last window
- Baba Rahman (Augsburg to Chelsea, £21m)
- Radamel Falcao (Monaco to Chelsea, loan*)
- Papy Djilobodji (Nantes to Chelsea, £2.45m)
- Bastian Schweinsteiger (Bayern to Manchester United, £6m)
- Matteo Darmian (Torino to Manchester United, £12.7m)
- Memphis Depay (PSV to Manchester United, £19m)
The most widely quoted figure for Falcao is £6m loan fee and £285,000 a week or £14.82m in wages plus £6 loan fee – total £20.82m.
£40.15m plus the cost of Falcao, pretty much down the drain from two clubs in one transfer window. (Nearly £62m if you include Falcao).
But the biggest disaster in the Telegraphian eyes was Christian Benteke (Aston Villa to Liverpool!, £32.5m). You can always rely on Liverpool!
So what else have we got in this early round up of the year? Five lovely quotes about Özil put together by the Metro…
‘Özil is unique. There is no copy of him – not even a bad copy. He is the best in the world.’
‘Anybody who has played with Mesut will tell you how intelligent he is as a player. His vision is probably the best I have ever seen.’
‘He was the player who best knew my moves in front of goal … I’m angry about Özil leaving.’
‘Özil is different. Short passing and combination play are his forte. He spots passes rather than takes the ball past people.’
‘If I had to compare Özil with someone I played with in my career, I think I would say that he has a bit of Zinedine Zidane in him, in terms of vision, touch and genius to make others play around him.’
Of course it is almost transfer time so the Express tells us
Arsenal have a history of poaching Barcelona’s best youngsters, with Cesc Fabregas and Hector Bellerin the biggest success stories.
Ah, so if Arsenal sign a player it is poaching, but if Man U, Chelsea or Man C do it, it is a carefully considered and well structured transfer which is of benefit to both clubs. I get it.
Anyway they tell us that Arsenal have been given the all-clear to seal the transfer of Barcelona youngster Sergi Samper for just £4.4million.
So if they have the all-clear how come this is “poaching”? Or could that be a misuse of the word by the Express? Surely not!
They then cite the newspaper Mundo Deportivo, (“Sports World”). I’ll leave the rest to Sir Hardly who may (or may not) recover from Christmas to give us the latest before vanishing into a new year’s eve party that lasts until February.
(Actually I would like to start a newspaper dedicated entirely to invented transfer stories and call it “Vanishing Spray”. The Spanish edition would be “Spray de fuga”).
Let’s do something else for the moment however. Here’s another table I found. The best assist providers after 19 games. This comes from TransferMarket.co.uk
- Just look at the the total per club:
- Arsenal 8 players
- Man U 5 players
- Chelsea 3 players
- Man C 3 players
- Liverpool! and other clubs 1 player each
Want to know why Arsenal has been such a constant success even when having far, far less money than its main rivals?
It has sought out the very best assist players, year after year.
Some more anniversaries
30 December 1893: Arsenal’s first ever away win in the league: Ardwick 0 Woolwich Arsenal 1. Henderson got the goal in front of a crowd of 4,000. Arsenal went on to win away twice more in the season, including a 3-6 win at Middlesbrough Ironopolis.
30 December 1961: Charlie Nicholas born. He played 84 times for Celtic scoring 48 goals. He brought great hope of a renaissance when Terry Neill signed him in 1983 but ultimately did not live up to his high promise.
Coming up in a short while on The Arsenal History Society site, the next part of the history of Arsenal in the 70s. July to December 1974.