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Simple answers and the rejection of experts: the need for multiple scorers

By Tony Attwood

I am endlessly fascinated by the way in which the media and their camp followers in the bloggettas adopt twin approaches in order to bolster their constant provision of Fake News – largely to the detriment of Arsenal.

The first is the view that anyone can have an opinion (which is true) and that each opinion is worth something (which it clearly isn’t).   As I have argued before, simply looking at a situation and using “the evidence of my own eyes” is by and large fraught with difficulty and leads to opinions which are pointless.  I looked up into the sky last night on my way to a dance (fortunately it was not my turn to drive) and saw the moon.  The evidence of my eyes suggested that it was a sort of musky yellow colour, it was a flat disc, and was about a quarter of an inch wide.  By and large I tend to follow the evidence of astronomers to suggest that overall these observations – the evidence of my own eyes – give little insight into reality.

The second is the view that football is simple, and therefore analyses of football can likewise be simple.   Following this view, one can take a few incidents from a single game, and draw valid conclusions.

What is particularly interesting in this second view is that the incidents can be drawn from a single game.   So one might see an Arsenal player make a couple of mistakes and from that generalise that he is not good enough to play for the club, anyone can see that, and thus the manager is an idiot for playing him.

What is not taken into account is not only the rest of the work by that player and the potential that the player shows, but also the fact that all teams have players like this, and all supporters of all clubs who take the simplistic view, tend to end up with the same conclusions.

In other words because they only look at their own team, they tend to forget that the same issues are debated in all teams.

To illustrate this I thought I would take the Guardian’s infamous point that success within the club can be measured by the number of players in the club who reach double figures in terms of goal scoring in a single season.

Having multiple goal scorers in a side is a good idea, both because two prolific scorers in a team tend to cause problems for the opposition defence – the notion of putting two defenders on one player goes out the window.  Also if one of them gets injured no back up with regular match experience is available.

But a single goal scorer can work, if the player is particularly brilliant and avoids injury.  In other words simplistic answers can point towards issues, but they are rarely comprehensive.

So with these prelims in mind I thought I would have a look at how many clubs are heading towards the Guardian’s holy grail of multiple players scoring 10 plus goals this season.   Here are the figures I found for league matches.

The numbers come from before today’s matches and reflect the top three scorers in each of the six teams considered by the media to have a chance of winning the league this season.

Club Scorer 1 Goals Scorer 2 Goals Scorer 3 Goals Total
Chelsea Costa 14 Hazard 9 Pedro 6 29
Tottenham Kane 13 Alli 10 Son 6 29
Arsenal Alexis 14 Walcott 8 Giroud 7 29
Liverpool Mane 9 Lallana 7 Ferminio 6 22
Manchester Utd Ibrahimovic 13 Mata 4 Pogba 4 21
Manchester City Agüero 11 Sterling 5 Nolito 4 20

What is clear is that the Manchester clubs have the same sort of reliance on one top scorer as the other four clubs in the table, but don’t have the backup behind that player to keep the goals pouring in the even of his absence.   It is a dangerous strategy.

What is interesting is that when you take the three London clubs and add up the goals by their top scorers, they all come to 29.  Of course it might be a statistical fluke, but on the other hand…

Of course in the second half of the season things can change.  Players can spring to life, injuries can be avoided, but that is gambling on the unexpected happening.  Better to have the players in place.

Here is the table of the top scorers in the league up to lunchtime today, as provided by World Football.

Position Player Team Goals (Penalty)
1 Diego Costa  Chelsea FC 14 (0)
Alexis Sánchez  Arsenal FC 14 (0)
3. Zlatan Ibrahimović  Manchester United 13 (1)
Harry Kane  Tottenham Hotspur 13 (3)
5. Jermain Defoe  Sunderland AFC 12 (5)
6. Kun Agüero  Manchester City 11 (3)
Romelu Lukaku  Everton FC 11 (0)
8. Dele Alli  Tottenham Hotspur 10 (0)
9. Eden Hazard  Chelsea FC 9 (2)
Sadio Mané Liverpool FC 9 (0)
11. Michail Antonio  West Ham United 8 (0)
Christian Benteke  Crystal Palace 8 (2)
Theo Walcott  Arsenal FC 8 (0)
14. Olivier Giroud  Arsenal FC 7 (0)
Adam Lallana  Liverpool FC 7 (0)
Salomón Rondón  West Bromwich Albion 7 (0)
Robert Snodgrass  Hull City 7 (2)
18. Charlie Austin  Southampton FC 6 (2)
Leroy Fer  Swansea City 6 (0)
Llorente  Swansea City 6 (0)
Pedro  Chelsea FC 6 (0)
Roberto Firmino  Liverpool FC 6 (0)
Heung-min Son  Tottenham Hotspur 6 (0)
Callum Wilson  AFC Bournemouth 6 (3)
This is not a complete proof or even a complete analysis, but it helps show that sometimes one needs a little more than a simplistic analysis.   Incidentally last season only five clubs had two or more players who scored ten or more goals each.  I suspect the number might be similar again.
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17 comments to Simple answers and the rejection of experts: the need for multiple scorers

  • SamuelAkinsolaAdebosin

    Everton 3-0 Man City is incredible. But Everton’s 3rd goal has ensured Man City cannot displace Arsenal from the 3rd place in the table. Let’s wait to see what argument Liverpool will put forward in this week 21 final 3rd placing in the table. But I think they won’t be able to put forward any argument to their favour in this battle for the final 3rd place placing in the table for this week 21 games between them and Man U. It’s even 4-0 now to Everton as I am about to end my typing by their debudant – Lookman who I think they’ve recently signed from… Challton? Is this not another failure by the Arsenal’s scout for not scouting him for Arsenal which has allowed Everton to sign him up? But Arsenal cannot sign every player? Can they?

  • WalterBroeckx

    There might be some teams that has 3 players with +10 goals at the end of the season this time. Arsenal looking likely to be one of those teams

  • Andy Mack

    Our loss at Everton doesn’t look so bad now 😀

  • SamuelAkinsolaAdebosin

    Alexis and Costa are arguably the top scorers in the PL so far this season with 14 goals credited them each. And Ibrahimovic and Harry Kane are closely following behind them with 13 goals each. Who will win the golden boot in the Premier League this season? Alexis? I hope to see him win it both at Arsenal and in the Premier League too this season.

  • Mandy Dodd

    We are in the healthy situation of having so many potential scorers. Can see Rambo weighing in with a few more, Danny is coming back, then to come back, and Perez seems to have an eye for a goal , and an assist.
    Not saying all of them will get to ten, but it is looking good for the rest of the season.
    Iwobi has an eye for goal as well as clever deflections and scaring opponents into OGs.
    I find Utds stats in this article difficult to come to terms with, the likes of Martial , Rashford and Lingard are talented players, but their goals are mainly coming from a 35year old, if a talented one. As you say, risky

  • Mandy Dodd

    Above…Theo to come back….

  • John L.

    Also Ox, Xhaka, Elneny may get a few, plus the occasional contribution from members of the back four.

  • Zuruvi

    The 1-1 draw between Manure and Liverpoo (the Poo) coupled with the heavy defeat of Man City by Everton has made this weekend a very sweet one for the Arsenal.

    I really enjoyed seeing both the Poo and Manure dropping 2 points each.

    I fear Manure more than the Poo. Manure always benefits from dubious referee decisions.
    Manure goal today was an offside.
    Nearly every game we see Manure being favoured by referee decisions.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Was it another offside goal for Manure??? Really????? I didn’t see so it really is a question

  • OlegYch

    there was no offside this time

  • MickHazel

    Walter
    There was an offside not called in the build up to the goal.

  • Markyb

    Valencia was offside when he was put clear to make the cross that led to the goal. Linesman was completely in the wrong place to make the call

  • Gord

    OT: Joshua McCormack – Rochdale

    That little boy (5 yr old) who had been named onto the game sheet for a game, that had brain cancer has died. A couple of days ago I gather.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/38613649

  • Trev

    Even the most ardent Wenger fan would have to admit that every time we reach a critical point or game in the season where nerve is required- we tend to fluff our lines. And even if other results show that getting beat at Everton or drawing at Bournemouth

  • Trev

    Oops. Premature posting. How embarrassing.

    As I was saying. Even if other results show than games we have dropped points can happen to anyone…fact is to win titles we need to win those games we all expect to win and not lose the bigger games.

    I hope we can turn that around. Yes. We showed character to come back against Bournemouth. But we showed lack of character to go 3 down and start the game so slowly. And against Everton when we had them on the ropes we didn’t kill them off. So a sense of ruthlessness is required.

    Can we acquire it in the second half of the season? Hope so. But am yet to be convinced

  • Gord

    Another story about death, but possibly good news for football.

    Many places in BC, Canada have cattle ranching. In the region around Merritt, BC was a 25 year old bull riding cowboy by the name of Ty Pozzobon.

    Heading a ball in football may lead to concussions, but that kind of impact is nothing at all like the impact a cowboys head can make with the back of a bull’s skull, or when a cowboy gets kicked in the head by a hind leg of a bull in rodeo.

    Ty died a short time ago, he was age 25. I heard on the radio today, that his brain is being donated to concussion research. Hopefully this will help advance our knowledge of concussions, and how to treat them.

    http://www.merrittherald.com/pozzobon-family-donates-famed-bull-riders-brain-science/

  • Andy Mack

    Is that ‘Trev’ or ‘Al Gilmore’ doing the ‘Cut & Paste’ comment across from other sites…