By Tony Attwood
The Anti-Arsenal Arsenal grouping is in many regards a rather silly collection of people, some of whom are easily led astray, and some of whom hold some extremely repulsive views and only a tiny minority of whom see to be able to put forward coherent arguments with evidence for regime change at Arsenal.
Of late, the silly wing has settled into the annual “Arsenal set to miss out on” variant headlines such as Is this perfect Arsenal player another star Wenger will miss out on? from HITC and Arsenal Fail Again In Bid To Add Striker To Squad from Just Arsenal News.
Attempting to take a more moderate line the Independent says, Wenger plays down move for Lyon’s Lacazette, which means there will be more “Arsenal fail to…” stories in a few moments.
But the really repulsive wing of the aaa has gone on the attack (inevitably anonymously on Twitter) over the story that the Japanese striker Takuma Asano has been approached by Arsenal.
Takuma Asano (浅野拓磨) is 21 and has played 50 times for Sanfrecce Hiroshima scoring ten goals in the league and four times for the national team. Adding in the cup games for his club he has scored 20 in 75 games. His team is one of the very top teams in Japan, having won the league twice in the last four years and the cup three times. He is said to be in his country’s squad for the Rio Olympics.
Apart from that it is quite hard to find out much about the player. So why the instant abuse?
One reason of course is that the aaa knock every new potential signing, another is that the player is unknown in the west, and so by definition must be no good. The final one verges on racism and relates to a notion that players from the far east are no good by definition.
It is true that Arsenal have not succeeded with players from that region – but then that is on a sample of three. Junichi Inamoto came with much promise but never made a league start, although he did play 48 games for Fulham and 21 for West Brom. Ryo Miyaichi played once in the league but was hit by injuries and after a series of loans he moved to Germany.
Park Chu Young likewise never made it having been a success in Monaco, and is now back in South Korea.
But a record of three players who did not make it does not excuse the commentaries that are around. One could pick three players from an English county who have not made it with Arsenal, and then make a similar fuss, and although it wouldn’t verge on racism. Saying that players from Dorset (to take an example at random) make useless footballers would look stupid and well as being stupid. Yet there are people who seriously want to put forward racist views on footballers.
What does seem to emerge from looking at the transfer rumours is that increasingly they are used not so much to suggest players that Arsenal might sign, but to propose a specific point of view (in this case a distasteful one).
The “Arsenal are weak” approach meanwhile continues to explore every possible form of put down. The Express for example today goes with “Chelsea deal confirmed, Man Utd swap, Liverpool boost, Arsenal offer” – the offer being for Takuma Asano.
It is easy from this to see how those Arsenal fans who are easily swayed in their opinions or who already have a very negative view of the club can see this continuing battering by the media as reflecting the real life situation. “Everyone else spends £30m on a player, and we buy a Japanese unknown,” is the view, forgetting that we have already bought Granit.
Of course the fact is that Arsenal would not have Iwobi, Bellerin and Coquelin if it were not for the club’s record in bringing forward the talent of such players. And the ability to find such players has been greatly enhanced by buying StatDNA in 2012.
StatDNA is based in the USA but has a huge workforce in east Asia, and cost Arsenal £2.165m – which is nothing when compared to player transfers. Indeed it is less than the recent increase UK clubs have had to pay for a major player where the price is quoted in Euros. It is now owned by Arsenal Overseas Holdings.
When speaking about it Ivan Gazidis said, “The company is an expert in the field of sports data performance analysis, which is a rapidly developing area and one that I, and others, believe will be critical to Arsenal’s competitive position. The insights produced by the company are widely used across our football operations – in scouting and talent identification, in game preparation, in post-match analysis and in gaining tactical insights.”
This of course gets no publicity. Instead what we find is a lot of headlines such as “Arsenal ‘nicked’ the wrong scout from Leicester, says Gary Lineker” in the Guardian last February after Ben Wrigglesworth left Leicester for Arsenal. It was a shame to see that story with such a large headline by Ed Aarons, given that the Guardian had earlier done a very good report not just on StatDNA but on Jaeson Rosenfeld the CEO of StatDNA.
Jaeson Rosenfeld is the man who also founded Digital Divide Data a company whose mission statement (if you follow the link) is to help some of the world’s poorest people benefit from information technology by creating sustainable social enterprises. DDD employs around 500 disadvantaged people in Cambodia and Laos, providing a workforce that can produce detailed video analysis. It is a part of Arsenal rarely given publicity, and indeed the club itself makes little of it.
The workers watch footage of matches from around the world and then code the data not just in terms of assists, for example, but the exact nature of the assist where the ball ended up, and so on.
This is of course the exact opposite of a social model from those members of the aaa with their comments about Takuma Asano but it shows a level of social responsibility at Arsenal not often commented upon.
- Wenger discusses move for £45m Lacazette by refusing to comment!?
- Amazing. The Transfer Window wakes up with six brand new transfers involving Arsenal
- The “Miserable Arrogance” of England; the Telegraph says Arsène should manage England and we can select players by referenda.
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- The Arsenal Yankee by Danny Karbassiyoon with a foreword by Arsene Wenger.
- Arsenal: the long sleep 1953 – 1970; a view from the terrace. By John Sowman with an introduction by Bob Wilson.
- Woolwich Arsenal: The club that changed football. By Tony Attwood, Andy Kelly and Mark Andrews.
- Making the Arsenal: a novel by Tony Attwood.
- The Crowd at Woolwich Arsenal by Mark Andrews.
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