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Arsenal always do worse than everyone else in November, and other myths.

By Tony Attwood

If you are a regular reader of Untold, you may have noticed that of late I have been trying, in my normal bumbling manner, to point out ways in which newspapers deliberately mis-represent events in the game.

At the start of the century there was the tale that Arsenal got more red and yellow cards than any other team.   Then when that was disproved we had the notion that Arsenal got more injuries than every other team.

Around then there was the concept that referee mistakes happen at random and “all even out in the end”.

Of late there has been the Telegraph’s story about suggesting that thousands of Arsenal season ticket holders simply never bother to show up, backed up by a picture of a seemingly half empty stadium — a picture taken at a game which was not covered by the season tickets, and in which Arsenal was not playing.

Or the Guardian’s piece in which we were told Arsenal had only two players last season who managed to get into double figures in the goal scoring department.  What was wrong there was the use of “only” – it should have been “Arsenal were one of only five teams that had more than one player who scored 10+ goals.”  A positive sign for the future was turned into a rampaging disaster.

So when I read a story by the same journalist who created the “only two players” cock and bull tale, which suggests that November is Arsenal’s disaster month, my brain perks up and I start to wonder.   The story is that Arsenal score only 1.59 points per game in November – fewer than in other months.

What made me suspicious was that the Arsenal data for each month across (say) the 21st century was not given (we had to take that on trust) and that no data for any other team was given.   That was exactly how the “only two players” stunt was pulled.

The article tells us that because of the well-known fact that Arsenal are poor in November, there was “a certain nervousness on Saturday among those visiting supporters celebrating the 4-1 win at Sunderland.”  Really?  More nervousness than normal?  On what basis?  Measured with what instrument?

We’re not told of course, because it is just journalistic flimflam, but let’s ignore that bit and move on and examine a few statistics.

Certainly Arsenal can do badly in November.  Look at last year

Game Date Against H/A Score Pos Pts
12 08.11.2015 Tottenham Hotspur home D1-1 2 26
13 21.11.2015 West Bromwich Albion away L1-2 4 26
14 29.11.2015 Norwich City away D1-1 4 27

Fairly awful and a big contrast to the sort of thing we are used to getting with Arsenal.  Under Mr Wenger Arsenal wins 57.20% of its league games – far higher than any other manager of the club except Pat Rice (who only managed four games) and Joe Shaw (the manager who took over when Herbert Chapman died and managed 23 games).  George Graham had a win percentage of 48.91%, and Chapman himself of 49.88%.

Now the first thing to notice is that quite often in November there are only three league games – because of internationals – so just as an indicator in these tables I sometimes add on the fourth game that is closest to November.  And results in November under Mr Wenger are certainly not always bad.  For example…

Game Date Against H/A Score Pos Pts
14 07.11.1999 Tottenham Hotspur away L1-2 4 26
15 20.11.1999 Middlesbrough home W5-1 3 29
16 28.11.1999 Derby County home W2-1 3 32
17 04.12.1999 Leicester City away W3-0 2 35

Now we find the first November anomaly.  November often only has three games in, so each game counts for much more statistically than in a month where you play four games.

So it seems it hasn’t always been bad for Arsenal under Wenger in November. Certainly in the early days, it wasn’t.

Game Date Against H/W Result Pos Pts
12 03.11.2002 Fulham away W1-0 2 26
13 09.11.2002 Newcastle United home W1-0 2 29
14 16.11.2002 Tottenham Hotspur home W3-0 1 32
15 23.11.2002 Southampton away L2-3 1 32
16 30.11.2002 Aston Villa home W3-1 1 35

And much the same the following year

Game Date Against H/A Result Pos Pts
11 01.11.2003 Leeds United away W4-1 1 27
12 08.11.2003 Tottenham Hotspur home W2-1 1 30
13 22.11.2003 Birmingham City away W3-0 1 33
14 30.11.2003 Fulham home D0-0 2 34

In 2005 it was actually our month of getting it back together after slipping to 9th at one stage.

10 29.10.2005 Tottenham Hotspur away D1-1 7 17
11 05.11.2005 Sunderland home W3-1 3 20
12 19.11.2005 Wigan Athletic away W3-2 4 23
13 26.11.2005 Blackburn Rovers home W3-0 2 26

And not too bad in 2007 either

11 03.11.2007 Manchester United home D2-2 1 27
12 12.11.2007 Reading away W3-1 1 30
13 24.11.2007 Wigan Athletic home W2-0 1 33
14 01.12.2007 Aston Villa away W2-1 1 36

So what we are seeing is that although the stats show that Arsenal in November don’t always do too well, they can do quite well some years, and the figures are affected by the anomaly of playing fewer games in November.

But what else affects playing in November?

Certainly if there is an interlull in November players can be more tired and more injured from the journeys and the legendary insanity of international managers, once famously compared by Mr Wenger to car thieves who nick your car, smash it up, and return it broken and order you to get it ready for them to steal again in a couple of months.

But there is more.  November is also the month of the league cup and a couple of Champions League games.   Now combine these facts: the season has been running for a dozen or so league games, there are two Champions League games (one at least involving a fair bit of travel in a time when flights can be delayed by fog), and a league cup game, and there is every chance you will run out of experienced first team players.

Add to this the fact that during the years of paying for the building of the Emirates, Arsenal maintained its squad size by calling on significant numbers of youngsters, and was less able to cover for injuries to key players than the multi-billionaire clubs, and it is easy to see what happened.

In summary, November can be a difficult month for all clubs that pack their team with internationals, and which also play in the Champions League.  On this basis, Arsenal are likely to have done more poorly in November than in other months, and more poorly than the mega rich clubs, simply because they did not have the depth of quality players in the squad that was built up by Chelsea, Man U and Man C (none of which had to pay for a new stadium, and each of which had incomes far in excess of Arsenal).

Even so, these cash rich and stadium debt free clubs could still have a difficult time in November.  Look at Man City last year.

Game Date Against H/A Score Pos Pts
12 08.11.2015 Aston Villa away D0-0 1 26
13 21.11.2015 Liverpool home L1-4 3 26
14 28.11.2015 Southampton home W3-1 1 29
15 05.12.2015 Stoke City away L0-2 3 29

Or go back a bit further to 2013, still with Man City – how about this for erratic behaviour in the autumn.

Game Date Against H/W Score Pos Pts
9 27.10.2013 Chelsea away L1-2 7 16
10 02.11.2013 Norwich City home W7-0 4 19
11 10.11.2013 Sunderland away L0-1 8 19
12 24.11.2013 Tottenham Hotspur home W6-0 4 22

Or take a look at Chelsea in 2012

10 03.11.2012 Swansea City away D1-1 2 23
11 11.11.2012 Liverpool home D1-1 3 24
12 17.11.2012 West Bromwich Albion away L1-2 3 24
13 25.11.2012 Manchester City home D0-0 4 25
14 28.11.2012 Fulham home D0-0 3 26

By the end of 2014/15 every journalist ever born (and quite a few who are spectres sent to this earth to taunt us) were saying that Chelsea would now win the league every year from now on.  And yet in late November, early December they got this…

13 29.11.2014 Sunderland away D0-0 1 33
14 03.12.2014 Tottenham Hotspur home W3-0 1 36
15 06.12.2014 Newcastle United away L1-2 1 36

Now it is said that you can prove anything with statistics.  I don’t think you can, and here I don’t think anything is proven with the assertion in the Guardian that Arsenal suffer some sort of November slump that is specific to Arsenal.

Many clubs that have achieved a top four position the season before, and thus play in the Champions League, and which are packed with international players, suffer a comparative drop in results in November because of the accumulation of injuries from domestic and international games, plus the two Champions League games.

Also, this is the month when the cloggers from the lower parts of the league (who have not been travelling the world during the interlull and have been able to recover from their knocks and bruises) can get stuck into the skillful players who have just flown half way around the world and who are not at their peak in terms of getting out of the way of appalling tackles.

Arsenal did not suffer any worse than other top clubs before the financial issues that the Emirates Stadium brought along, but during those re-financing years (which coincided with the financial rise of first Chelsea and then Man City) did have to draw deeply upon a squad that was more dependent on cheaper purchases and up and coming youngsters.

There is no automatic decline for Arsenal in November.  November can be a difficult month, but it is the month in which the clubs with the squad with the greatest depth aim to survive in order to move on.

Recent tales from Untold 

Wenger ponders whether Yaya Sanogo will ever really be good enough for Arsenal. 

Arsenal always do worse than everyone else in November, and other myths.

10 things we learned about football in the last week which the media won’t admit

The Football journalists education programme. A public service commentary.

Sunderland – Arsenal: 1-4, Welcome back Giroud and Ramsey

Wonderloaf v Arsenal. The preview, the teams, the stats, the score and the bland bread.

Arsenal to change the line up for Sunderland game: the tactical preview.

 

21 comments to Arsenal always do worse than everyone else in November, and other myths.

  • Va Cong

    Very Nicely written Walter as per usual

  • Va Cong

    I MEAN Tony Attwood SORRY LOL

  • Rich

    Think I’m right in saying we’ve been running at two games per week, for those who play international football, since the Cl fixtures before the last international break.

    From Chelsea on Sep 24th to Oct 29th that’s 9 games, excluding league cup, for those who played twice for country.

    It’s a really demanding schedule and, unless we continue to rest players in league cup, the first time the international players get a full week off is from 18 to 26 of December!

    Seems absolutely essential we rotate well. I didn’t see the Boro game but heard we looked tired; this week, after resting some midweek, I thought the team looked very sharp.

    Looking at the gruelling schedule, it is easy to understand why November has become a difficult month for any club playing CL with lots of international players. Makes me think we should and will rotate a lot for the cup game against Southampton. Squad depth this year gives me optimism we can handle it.

  • Luscious lisa

    Other than to say there is a weak statistical basis to claiming Arsenal traditionally has a poor November, this is all a bit meaningless. You’ve selected a whole bunch of variables which rightly complicate any conclusions from the November results data; you could have picked other variables, games played on Sunday, the weather, the effect of Halloween parties, you name it.
    I would happily settle for 7 points from the 3 November fixtures and 5 points wouldn’t be a disaster. How that compares with past novembers I couldn’t care less.

  • Andy Mack

    Luscious lisa, that (I think) is the point.
    A ‘hack’ using a number without justification of that number or any context.
    Or
    A Blog showing that with some context and numerous variable which the ‘Hack’ doesn’t discuss shows the story to be rubbish.
    As Tony says, we’ve had good and bad Novembers like every other team, especially the teams with lots of International players and CL participation…

  • Robert

    “So when I read a story by the same journalist who created the “only two players” cock and bull tale, which suggests that November is Arsenal’s disaster month, my brain perks up and I start to wonder. The story is that Arsenal score only 1.59 points per game in November – fewer than in other months.”

    For starters, Tony, the “only two players” line was almost incidental to Amy Lawrence’s largely positive article. You’re still making far too much of it. I don’t understand why when Amy is one of the few excellent football writers about, she’s written a book on Arsenal, and is an Arsenal supporter.

    Second, Amy didn’t write today’s article – Louise Taylor did. And this is a direct quote of the bit you took umbrage to:

    “Statistics crunched from Wenger’s reign show his team average 2.18 points per game in March, 2.14 in September and October and 2.09 in April, but they manage only 1.59 during the 11th month.”

    You’ve come up with random selective stats, including games played in October or December to “disprove” her. Seriously?

    Do a full analysis of all games played in November under Wenger’s reign. If she’s wrong, I’ll believe you. Until you do, I’ll believe her.

    And why all the angst anyway? This November will be hard for a myriad of reasons evident to a myopic mole.

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    Whatever be the media’s journalistic negativism against Arsenal and their bad month of November claims for Arsenal, Arsenal will come home and dry not only in this year’s month of November campaign, but will also remain audacious and impregnated throughout their season campaign. Therefore, I am unconcerned with whatever unjustified writeups the media may wish to be writing against Arsenal.

    What is of concern and important to me now as an Arsenal supporter, is how the Gunners will fare in the 2 games they are billed to play before the international break comes. And in the light of this, am of the opinion Le Prof should rest some of his top senior Gunners for the Ludogorets match tomorrow to conserve their energy for the big Spurs game at the Ems on Sunday. A derby match which Arsenal mustn’t fail to win to avoid any possible implication occurring for us in the table.

    As I watched Bellerin, Ozil, Mustafi and the young Iwobi play the Sunderland game, and I came to the conclusion that these 4 Gunners are fatigued, tired and becoming jaded especially Bellerin. I therefore appeal to Le Prof to give these 4 Gunners above a full week rest.

    Ludogorets is not a top Ucl team that can beat us or cause any problem for Arsenal to play another Ucl away draw game . But that doesn’t mean Arsenal should take beaten them before their partisan home supporters for granted. As a matter of fact, the Le Prof’s likely rotated Arsenal team for this game should be very serious over there in their game and earn an 0-4 away victory by their share hard work.

    I am waiting for Le Prof,s update on the Gunners before I can make my own starts and bench which I believe Le Prof should use for the match which he may accept, reject or make amendments to them.

  • Gord

    What I think I would do, is to pick out the data for the Novembers (date and points) and prepend that with the same data for the last game in October and append it with the same data for the first game in December. Now we have 5 or 6 data points for each year. We then calculate the 4 data point values of points acquired and average date of the 4 games (a set of 5 points would get 1/2/3/4 and 2/3/4/5, a set of 6 points would get 1/2/3/4, 2/3/4/5, 3/4/5/6). From each pair or triplet, we select the data which has the average date closest to November 15. We now have points per 4 games, centered on November.

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    Whatever be the media’s journalistic negativism against Arsenal and their bad month of November claims for Arsenal, Arsenal will come home and dry not only in this year’s month of November campaign, but will also remain audacious and impregnable throughout their season campaign. Therefore, I am unconcerned with whatever unjustified write-ups the media may wish to be writing against Arsenal.

    What is of concern and important to me now as an Arsenal supporter, is how the Gunners will fare in the 2 games they are billed to play before the international break comes. And in the light of this, am of the opinion Le Prof should rest some of his top senior Gunners for the Ludogorets match tomorrow to conserve their energy for the big Spurs game at the Ems on Sunday. A derby match which Arsenal mustn’t fail to win to avoid any possible implication occurring for us in the table.

    As I watched Bellerin, Ozil, Mustafi and the young Iwobi play the Sunderland game, I came to the conclusion that these 4 Gunners are fatigued, tired and becoming jaded especially Bellerin. I therefore appeal to Le Prof to give these 4 Gunners above a full week rest.

    Ludogorets is not a top Ucl team that can beat us or cause any problem for Arsenal to play another Ucl away draw game . But that doesn’t mean Arsenal should take beaten them before their partisan home supporters for granted. As a matter of fact, the Le Prof’s likely rotated Arsenal team for this game should be very serious over there in their game and earn a 0-4 away victory by share hard work.

    I am waiting for Le Prof,s update on the Gunners before I can make my own starts and bench which I believe Le Prof should use for the match which he may accept, reject or make amendments to them.

  • bushido

    @L’Lisa, this article is made to show as an example how media always portrayed Arsenal in a bad ways. every reports, news n articles in newspaper n web media should be accurate n truth rite? but here’s the funny thing, when the news is involving Arsenal football club’ many sport journalist/reporter just twisting the words, manipulating/misleading the fact n sometime they just make lies up for sensationalized and clickbait for their article. i agree with u, it’s not so bad if Arsenal pick up 5 points in 3 match in this coming November but some here at UA including me request Tony n Untold contributors to keep making this type of article as a remainder n to show how low some of sport/football journalist/reporter is willing to go just to sell stories. there’re suppose to be an ethics in journalism but when it’s time for them to report/write a story involving Arsenal, yellow journalism come into play. for what reason or purpose they behave that way toward Arsenal, i don’t know but it’s unethical n wrong n if Untold Arsenal became an outlet to fight back n exposed all the media wrongdoing toward the football club that we all here at UA hold dearly to our heart’ i second that 100% n will continue to voice my concern. Arsenal 4 life

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    How many games will Arsenal play in this year’s month of November anyway? Away to Ludo, home to Spurs, away to Man U, home to PSG, home to Bournemouth and home to Southampton. These are the 6 games we are going to play in the month of November. And out of these 6, 3 are Cup games and the remaining 3 are PL games.

    As for me, I have unreserved faith in the current Arsenal squad that has the adequate strength in depth to see us through the tick and thin of these 6 games successfully. Arsenal will win all these 6 games to put their month of November doom detractors to shame. So let’s not worry ourselves on how Arsenal will fare in this season’s month of November campaign. But pray for them to be very successful. For, I am more than confident they will pass these 6 tests with 6 distinctions..

  • Robert yes you are quite right, I mixed up the authors – a foolish mistake. But I have answered before why I felt the calling out of the “only” comment was so important, and why it (in my opinion) needs mentioning. Just as the dreadful Telegraph pictures need calling out. Fair enough, you don’t agree; it just seems important to me.

    In “1984” the manipulation of truth was on a grand scale. In our age it can be both on a grand scale (hence the Post Truth Society of Trump et al, but also done somewhat more sophisticated. And that, for me, is the most dangerous approach of all.

  • Va Cong

    Hey Tony, you’d love this piss take with Tom Hanks on Hilary And Donald debate.

    https://youtu.be/R2QOdDEaHzA

  • Gord

    It is possible there are 2 average dates equal “distance” from November 15. But, since all games end in the afternoon, there will only be 1 games that is closest to midnight on November 15 (the middle of the month).

  • OlegYch

    your data is still very much selective
    not much of an improvement over eg http://www.joe.co.uk/sport/arsenal-fans-should-be-worried-about-arsene-wengers-november-record/95084 , some good discussion in the linked reddit thread there btw

  • Paul Ogbu

    Personally, I have long stopped bothering about the negative press on Arsenal and Arsene Wenger because in most cases they are written out of jealousy. In my village we have a saying that when you do not have any negative thing to tell a beautiful woman, you will tell her that she has a big head. By the time Arsenal will win the league come May 2017, there will still be negative things written about our victory.

  • lizzy

    Tony another pointless boll1x blog trying to make everything look rosy to your dozen or so posters from foreign lands.There seem to be more blogs than posts these days …

  • Zuruvi

    Tony, I think the truth or otherwise of whether Arsenal has a difficult November is to calculate the average points per game played for each month over the last 5 years (or 10 years or 20 years).
    It is wrong to include games played on 1 December or 3 December.
    November is not the only month where only 3 games are played.
    The average points per game played in each month is a fair statistical basis of comparison.
    If we get the average points per game played in each month we will then have a factual basis on which to say November is a bad month, an average month or a good month for Arsenal.

    After we have got the Arsenal average points per game for each month in the season, we will compare with our top two or three competitors for the title in each of the season.

    We will now be able to give a comparative analysis of how our main rivals performed in November (and the other months).

    By doing the above 2 analyses we can prove or disprove the two key questions:
    (1). Does the Arsenal have a poor November compared to other months?
    (2). Does Arsenal perform worse in November than it’s main rivals?

    I would have done these analyses but I’m preparing for an exam so my time is limited.
    I hope someone can do them for us.

  • Dazza64

    Lizzy@5.46… Why bother to post insults???

  • Markyb

    Lizzy the Troll

  • bushido

    why @Lizzy so hard on about dozen or so posters from foreign lands. so Mr or Mrs Lizzy the Arsenal fan who think u so exclusive cos u from England, it’s not all rosy n well then when Arsenal is 2nd in the league n only lost 1 game this season? i mean’ really, what type of fan are u if u not happy with that n make that type of comment like u did. are u aaa in disguise? the other thing is, even when media keeps banging the drum for so many years about Arsenal November slump n is doing worst than everyone else in that month for so many years’ Arsenal always n still finish inside the top 4 n last season Arsenal even manage to finish above every club that doing so well in November except Leicester City. if u think logically about that’ it will crush all this Arsenal November myth bullsh!t that media use to brainwash the concrete thinker fans. i think that’s the point Tony trying to make here.

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