“The Gunners have a woeful record when it comes to the treatment table and that very same curse has struck once again ahead of the new Premier League season.”
And the evidence presented considering how Arsenal compare with other clubs? Zero. But never mind. Let’s try it another way – this is what “Who scored” have to say at the moment…
“Arsenal already have an injury crisis and the season hasn’t even started.”
A little later on the same page they say of Liverpool! “Loris Karius has been ruled out for up to two months with a broken hand, James Milner has returned to training after suffering an injury against Barcelona in pre-season but remains a doubt. Mamadou Sakho and Joel Matip are not yet fully fit and aren’t likely to feature unless injuries force Jurgen Klopp’s hand. Daniel Sturridge is struggling with a hip injury, while Joe Gomez, Marko Grujic, Lucas and Sheyi Ojo are all doubts.” That sounds like more of an injury crisis than Arsenal – but we’ll check the figures in a moment.
And anyway these are diddy sites, so let’s turn to some proper commentary like Amy Lawrence in the Guardian. I know the Guardian is a proper newspaper because it tells me it is quality. Various messages come along daily asking me to subscribe. Indeed when I go onto their website at the moment they tell me “If you use it, if you like it, why not pay for it. It’s only fair.” And you know I would if their football pages were not so endlessly anti-Arsenal.
Let me give an example from Ms Lawrence in her article today. She is after all a fine and insightful journalist. Today she says of Mr Wenger, “He has talked to his team about being more clinical. Only Giroud (16) and Sánchez (13) managed double figures in the Premier League last season.”
That sounds truly shocking. We can imagine players of other teams zooming in front with three, four or five players in double figures – that is certainly the implication of that statement. One may wonder why the article didn’t mention exactly how many players had double figures for other clubs, given that Arsenal only had two such but perhaps by then she was feeling sorry for Mr Wenger.
Now we know that Arsenal scored three fewer goals than Leicester last season, and six fewer than Man City, the top scoring club. So already we might feel a little suspicious about this “double figure” lark, but still it is true, if only Arsenal had knocked in seven more chances from more clinical finishers we would have been top scorers.
So how many double figure scorers did other teams get – that is what we need to know to justify the knocking word “only”. Here’s the list
- Southampton 3 (Mané, Pellè, Long)
- Leicester City 2 (Vardy Mahrez)
- Watford 2 (Ighalo, Deeny)
- Swansea 2 (Avew, Sigurðsson)
These figures of course include penalties and both Watford and Swansea would have lost one of their players in the double figures list if penalties had been excluded or if by chance those players had not taken the penalties. And lest we think that Southampton were the super team of the season, their players crept in with 11, 11, and 10 goals and overall the club scored six fewer than Arsenal.
So the “only” is utterly misleading. Arsenal in fact were one of “only” five clubs with two or three players in double figures.
This is an alarming piece of writing because it comes from an established journalist, in the summer when football commentary has been awash with the use of “only” type sentences. The summer of screaming about Arsenal’s injury crisis, without noting the number of injured players there are in other clubs. Of Arsenal’s lack of goals without noting we only got three fewer than Leicester. Surely, surely, at this moment, the Guardian would take the trouble to give us some backup for the use of the word “only” in the sentence “Only Giroud (16) and Sánchez (13) managed double figures in the Premier League last season.”
But no, the opportunity to knock Arsenal, while deliberately missing out the comparisons so that we can judge for ourselves, is overwhelming football, deliberately making it hard for readers to understand the reality of the situation.
However, lets move on. With such a sentence appearing without any back up figures to justify “only” (which in reality is unjustifiable given that 75% of Premier League teams had “only” one player scoring double figures) maybe Whoscored and Give me sprouts should be left alone to rot in a little graveyard (actually a rather big graveyard) reserved for sites that quote numbers out of all context and opinion without evidence.
But no, Untold is known not just for its childish humour (as we have been told this week vis a vis our regularly changing West Ham United into State Aid United playing at the Tax Payers Stadium) but also its investigation into statements that are made without backup. So we press on asking next what Who scored, and Give me Sprouts at rabbiting on about. And well you might wonder. Because far from being synonymous with injury crisis, Arsenal were neither at nor close to the top of the injury league last season either if measured in terms of actual injuries, or player days missed. We’ve published those figures both from the BBC and Physioroom so often that it would be boring to do it again, so let’s now ask about injuries now. Surely we have lots and injuries now? Well…
|1||State Aid United||9|
|17||West Bromwich Albion||1|
What is also interesting here is that one of our injuries is Carl Jenkinson, a player who was injured while (perhaps ill advisedly) playing for State Aid – who not through coincidence – have the most injured players. If we actually calculated the injuries in terms of which team the player was playing for at the time of injury, we’d have four and State Aid would be even further ahead of the field.
Jack is still out, although in the category described by Mr Wenger as “a little short”. I wonder if he ever said that about Santi Cazorla? (Ho ho).
Mesut Ozil, Laurent Koscielny and Olivier Giroud will miss out because of the demands of their countries at the Euros and the insanity of Uefa.
As for Jürgen Klopp he knows that to emulate Wenger he has to win the double in his first full season. He might, given that Liverpool! yet again have the benefit of not competing in the Europe. In the past seven seasons Liverpool! have been in the group stages of the Champions League just twice. It certainly makes life easier for them.
And this could be a good game today because Arsenal have scored at least two goals in eight of their last 10 matches against Liverpool! And less you forget amongst all the negativity Arsenal are undefeated in 19 of their last 20 home matches against Liverpool!! (That’s one ! for the name of the club and one because that stat is quite remarkable).
We also ended last season with three games without conceding (the sheets not needing washing because they were clean, if you take my meaning), and we were undefeated in the last 10 PL matches.
Oh yes and we scored two or more in eight of the last ten against Liverpool. Just for the hell of it of course. Actually these days perhaps I should write “Arsenal scored two or more in only eight of the last ten games against Liverpool.”
And for all those people who leave early, Premier League matches between Arsenal and Liverpool! have produced 16 goals in the 90th minute or later. Liverpool! have scored nine of those, with seven goals for Arsenal.
But of course there are always negatives, and it is true we have lost two of the last three home games on the opening weekend. I know about it, I was there each time.
As for the opposition, they have finished outside the top five in six of the last seven seasons although you wouldn’t know it from the way the media talk them up. With the awfully nice Jurgen Klopp in charge they have averaged 1.6 points per game. In the first eight matches of the season before his appointment it was a hugely inferior 1.5 points per game. You can see why it was so important to change managers.
The BBC’s computer thing predicts 1-0 to the Arsenal. So to the teams. The issue for me is who to play alongside Xhaka. A case can be made for Santi to push us forwards, but also a case for Coquelin to make it harder for Liverpool! to get through to the defence. As we said in the summer Xhaka himself can push forward. Or we could compromise and put Elneny there as he was in such excellent form in the latter part of the season.
Also we have the issue of Walcott or Iwobi. I am not sure which way that call will go So here’s my wild guess…
Ox Ramsey Walcott
Xhaka Santi Cazorla
Gibbs Monreal Holding Bellerin
Beached: Akpom, Ospina, Debuchy, Coquelin, Elneny, Iwobi, Campbell. (And while we are in Guardian knocking move I think they have Gnabry listed as a possible beach boy, but he is actually currently playing for Germany in the Olympics). (Mind you they also list Sanogo as a possible sub).
Resting: Ozil, Koscielny, Giroud.
All being well Walter’s up next with the match report about three minutes after the final whistle.
- The cult of the manager: thoughts as the season begins.
- Premier League 2 – Arsenal v Reading – The Match Report
- Arsenal v Liverpool Sunday 14 August – The Match Officials. Prepare for bias.
- The predictions for this coming season: and rather cheery ones they are too.
Today’s chosen anniversary
14 August 1996. The first Arsène Wenger signings, Remi Garde (on a free transfer) and Patrick Vieira (£3.5m) joined Arsenal. Wenger was still in Japan ending his contract and both players arrived carrying injuries.
Untold Arsenal has published five books on Arsenal – all are available as paperback and three are now available on Kindle. The books are
- 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.
You can find details of all five on our new Arsenal Books page