By Tony Attwood
Christmas – all done and dusted for another year. So what happened?
The teams that did best over Christmas were both in north London – and indeed if Tottenham win or even draw their game in hand this afternoon they will be the most successful club this Christmas / New Year. Tottenham are away to Everton at 4pm GMT.
So let’s look back…
It might seem a long time ago but this is how the league table looked before all this Christmas stuff happened. In the form section the most recent result is on the right.
|8||West Ham United||16||6||6||4||25||21||+4||24||LDLDDD|
And the league table this morning. The “Gain” column at the end shows the number of points out of 12 actually taken by each club.
|6||West Ham United||20||8||8||4||30||23||+7||32||DDDDWW||8|
* With one game to play to complete the holiday schedule.
The form guide is also interesting – just before the start of the Christmas rush we had three wins, two draws and a defeat in the last six. Now it is five wins and one defeat in the last six. Indeed the form guide on the table is interesting in Tottenham’s case too – their current burst of form coincides completely with Christmas, which is why a win will not change their league position at all.
Indeed if one were to look at the whole league table and thus pick up the results of the smaller clubs like Chelsea, we would see that no team (apart from Arsenal) has won more than three in the last six. A win for Tottenham would give them four wins one draw and one defeat in the last six.
Chelsea have in fact gained five points over the holiday period, with one game to play, this afternoon against Crystal Palace.
But of course it is not enough for Arsenal. Writing on the BBC web site today Alan Shearer says, “Another centre-forward, a defensive midfielder and a centre-half should all be on Arsene Wenger’s list but the difficult thing for Wenger is to find a way of doing that in the middle of the season to improve his team.”
Which by and large says, Wenger cocked it all up because he didn’t buy right last summer. He should have brought in a top centre forward and then not played him – or risked having Giroud lose all form by him not being played. He should have known that Coquelin would be injured and with that amazing forewarning he could have told one of Europe’s top defensive midfielders that he needed to come to Arsenal because Coquelin would be injured, “just you wait and see – but sit on the bench for a while, OK?”
Oh yes, and the best defence in the football league needs a new centre half. As well as Brazil international Gabriel who is patiently waiting it out. So this new guy would either break up the best defence of 2015 in the country, or have to wait his turn behind Gabriel.
In truth, that the man is utterly bonkers has been suspected for some time, but surely this must take us to a new level. (My suspicion is that these “expert” chaps just repeat what the last “expert” said. But that can’t be so, can it? I mean, surely not!)
While it is true that the defeat to Southampton was awful to watch, the fact is that many teams get a hammering once in a while, and if you are going to let in four it is most certainly better to do that all in one game, rather than spread out over four games.
The BBC also used a super computer to help it find out what each club should do. It is, according to their web site, “SAM the Super-Computer – a sports analytics machine built at the University of Salford – which uses player information to predict the outcome of a match. By replacing a player on a team with an alternative, SAM can predict the result of a match as if the incoming man actually played – and is therefore able to tell us how teams will benefit (or not) from any possible business.”
Sometimes Sam just tells players to work harder. Its prognostication with Liverpool is, “If Daniel Sturridge was fit, Liverpool would gain less than one point. According to SAM, the players they have in their squad should be covering for him. Between Christian Benteke, Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho, they should be scoring the goals he would be expected to score.”
The Man City commentary by the computer is interesting too.
“The player that SAM has identified that City are most in need of is a defensive central midfielder. Signing Paul Pogba will get City an extra 4.3 points. But a very interesting observation is that the top Premier League teams gain little from new players arriving in January – typically an increase of less than one league point. Manchester City basically only significantly improve if they sign Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo…and that is highly unlikely to happen.”
So, actually all the Shearer chit chat was meaningless. A purchase now won’t give us more than a single point more.
Here’s SAM on Chelsea: “If Chelsea were to finally get their man and sign defender John Stones from Everton, SAM does not expect an increase in their expected points tally this season. Of course, the impact in future years may make the signing worthwhile – John Terry cannot go on forever!”
And for Tottenham it is pretty much what you might expect.
“Losing Harry Kane, and not replacing with a player of similar quality would produce a massive effect on the expected points tally for Tottenham – a drop of around 12 points. This is the biggest impact any one player has had on a team.”
So there you are, Tottenham are making exactly the same error as Arsenal in not having suitable backups. It could be that in both cases the manager is either a turnip or some other branch of the root vegetable family. Or it could just be that it is not as easy as a bunch of journalists sitting in a pub making up stories actually likes you to believe it is.
Oh, and just one other thing. What does SAM say about Arsenal. Here it is in full.
Yep, nothing. There is nothing we can do to improve, apart from being idiotic in the Shearer mould, and telling us to buy players because a) of pre-cognition, and b) convincing the players the manager is a pretty decent fortune teller.
Sending the apology by horse – the anniversaries
- 3 January 1998: Arsenal 0 Port Vale 0 (FA Cup round 3 – the first cup game of the second Double.) The second double: part 1, part 2, part 3.
- 3 January 1999: Sir Alex Ferguson’s notorious speech published in Sunday Times in which he claimed Arsenal were responsible for numerous fights on the pitch in what was the most blatant piece of public ref-fixing seen thus far. Ferguson claimed he then apologised, but Arsène Wenger said, “If he sent an apology it must have been by horse”.
A better song for Ozil (sorry old link broke – new link now in place)
The Insult for the day is now on the home page