By Bulldog Drummond.
If you have read my match previews from time to time you’ll know that I sometimes quote Whoscored.com – an interesting source of statistics. Unfortunately today that site doesn’t seem to like my login and thus I’m being barred from seeing some of the more exciting bits of the site. So instead I went for a wander and discovered two sites making a bit of a noise today with their research and findings.
I am sure these sites have been on everyone else’s radar for centuries, and it is just me that is left out in the cold, but on the basis of better late than make something up, here’s the bits I’ve found.
First off, www.footballaddicts.com. I am not quite sure as to whether this is a newish site or if it just doesn’t leave its old posts on line for long, but either way, tucked inside one article there is a survey which asks the question: “Do you have confidence in FIFA?”
A rather good question, since Untold’s position since around the time of the Black Death (for which Fifa was obviously responsible) has been that Fifa should be thrown on the bonfire, and then not replaced.
The media in the UK have only just (rather late in the day it must be said) actually recognised that there is a fans’ viewpoint that says there should be no Fifa, and that viewpoint got a boost here. In answer to the question above the answers were
- Yes: 17%,
- No: 69%
- Don’t Know: 14%
The five countries with the least faith in FIFA were: Chile 2%, Colombia 4%, New Zealand 7% and Spain 7%, Luxembourg 8%. The site doesn’t publish figures beyond that which is a shame, since I’d love to know what they found for the four constituent parts of the UK.
But they do have the five countries with the most faith in FIFA: Qatar 60%, Saudi Arabia 32%, Canada 25%, USA and South Africa 24%. Strange about Canada and the US being up there – maybe there was an additional faith because they think the extradition treaties will finally work and get the Fifa renegades out of Switzerland and into the US for trial and public execution. Or maybe the people asked were not football fans.
Anyway, on to the second site just discovered, and undoubtedly one that everyone other than the massed ranks of Untold researchers (who were down the pub at the time) already knew about.
It is Oulala – a charming website that has done a position by position comparison of the two teams looking for the better player in each of the eleven positions. Quite interesting it is too since Arsenal come out on top most of the time.
Petr Cech beats Claudio Bravo (I have often wondered, just as we all shout Ooooooospina when he kicks the ball, do they shout “Bravo!” in the same manner?) Cech has kept more clean sheets, more saves per game, more catches and more punches clear, and so wins. Although I thought that a little unfair since Bravo! has let in fewer goals.
Nacho Monreal comfortably beats Jordi Alba with more tackles won, more interceptions, more blocks, more clearances, more successful dribbles and more chances game by game. Where are those people who criticised our buying cut price players from clubs having fire sales? Monreal and Santi C. What a waste of money!
Laurent Koscielny is the player Mr Wenger has said has been his best buy for this team in terms of value in recent years, reflecting the modest price, and the way he has come on over the years to be rated in the top 100 players in Europe. According to these figures he has outperformed Javier Mascherano with more interceptions, more blocks, more clearances and more aerial duels won. Mascherano wins on tackles however.
Gerard Piqué beats Per Mertesacker on tackles, interceptions and blocks, but our man makes more clearances, and has more successful tackles.
Hector Bellerin who was so widely panned by critics of Wenger when he was first introduced to the team, and yet now beats Dani Alves, although to the fair, only just. On most counts they are equal, but Bellerin has more clearances and more successful dribbles. Alves creates more chances.
Francis Coquelin, the man nominated as likely to be a success at Arsenal by Untold when he was first seen at an Austrian training camp, has had an extraordinary rise, from not very successful loan spells to being better than Sergio Busquets in terms of better pass completion rate, most tackles won, interceptions and clearances. And, wouldn’t you know it, like Kos and Bellerin, we were told he was rubbish by those who seem to know it all.
Maybe we should keep listening to the critics of Wenger, but then just believe the opposite, without wasting all this time on debate.
And talking of players who were called absolute rubbish, there is Aaron Ramsey – the man Barcelona have made repeated attempts to buy. Ramsey vs Ivan Rakiti is interesting as our man wins on successful passes, more key passes, more chances created, more tackles per game, more assists and more goals. That’s why they want to buy him.
Speaking of assists we come to the man on whom the jury is still out, who is nicking a living etc etc. Is Mesut Özil better that Andres Iniesta? On pass completion no, they are equal. On the number of passes per game, Iniesta wins. But on everything else yes it is Özil all the way. Four times more chances 3.5 times more passes, 17 times more assists, four times as many goals.
But all good things come to an end and unfortunately, when we come to the forward line this all gets a bit unstuck. Neymar outdoes Alexis Sánchez on everything except pass completion. Messi of course is the master at beating everyone except the taxman just as Luis Suarez beats Olivier Giroud in every football zone and in terms of biting opposition players also.
However there is a nice little twist at the end. Messi, Iniesta, Suarez and and Neymar have pay rises built into their contracts according to quite a few Spanish papers. That’s hardly a new story, but these and other already agreed pay rises will add around £25m plus to Barcelona’s wages next season. Sergio Busquets is also due for a contract renewal which leads to … more pay rises.
But La Liga has a salary cap of €421m per annum, and Barcelona’s wage bill is currently €419m, before anyone gets a wage rise. Last season Barcelona exceeded the agreed ratio of income against tax and repayments of loan, which is also a concern, and must now bring that down.
Now of course the Spanish League has a regular habit of looking not just the other way at such moments, but often of not looking at all, allowing a handful of clubs, for example, to stay outside the regulation that says all clubs must become PLCs – in order to ensure greater financial transparency, approving the transfer of children without their parents etc.
So it is not too likely that the Spanish League is strong enough to take on Barcelona but curiously enough Fifa might have another go. Which takes us back to the start. Most of us don’t have faith in Fifa. But they did stand up to Barcelona over the child trafficking issue, so maybe there is hope after all.
- 23 February 2008: Birmingham 2 Arsenal 2. The day that robbed Arsenal of the title as Eduardo’s leg was broken. He never recovered his amazing potential. Arsenal won just one of the next seven. Walcott scored both goals.
- 23 February 2008: The Aliadière scandal in which the player was sent off wrongly and had his sentence increased on appeal. It revealed just how corrupt (or erratic depending on your point of view) the English refereeing system had become.
- Life As An Arsenal Fan.
- Ref Review: Arsenal – Leicester
- The curious problem of Man City’s squad, and Arsenal’s resolute answer
The Untold Books
The latest Untold book is Arsenal: The Long Sleep 1953-1970 with a Foreword by Bob Wilson, available both as a paperback and as a Kindle book from Amazon. Details of this and our previous and forthcoming titles can be found at Arsenal Books on this site.