By Gooner Mikey
I find fake news, post truth etc., fascinating in the sense that those who use it show a degree of inadequacy and demonstrate a whole new dynamic in terms of social engineering. Don’t get me wrong though I don’t for one moment question its effectiveness, we only have to look at the US to see that.
But UA is about football and there has been a wealth of evidence demonstrating the level of post truth offerings on the subject and the blind willingness of people to believe it. Arsenal have the largest number of injuries; AW doesn’t have a plan B; Giroud is useless; Ozil nicks a living; referees get 98% of decisions correct; we’re buying 100 players each summer whilst selling all our current first team squad – the examples are endless.
I don’t know about anybody else, but like Tony, Walter, Usama, Sir Hardly and many others who frequent UA, I love a statistic or two. Not because they prove anything in isolation but because without them it is very difficult to get a real picture based on real evidence. In that regard, there are several other sites I love to peruse particularly whilst scoffing a quick sarnie of a Monday lunchtime. Whoscored is one such site as its analysis of both players and teams are by and large objective rather than based on the evidence “of my own eyes”………..
So I was having a browse this week and thought I’d explore different elements of play. Now I don’t think there is much doubt that we are not a ‘long ball’ team but there are certainly one or two teams out there which most definitely are. Whoscored doesn’t give a summary of the number of long balls played by each team but it does give a breakdown of the number of long balls played per game by each individual player. I had a quick squint and became quickly bored because virtually every player in the top 20 was, unsurprisingly a goalkeeper. But this got me thinking. Who is the biggest hoofer after all the GK’s, I thought?
Brace yourselves people, and this is where the post-truth element comes in because we’re saturated with ideas by pundits and the media about which are the best footballers and the most attractive footballing sides.
(As a slight aside, whilst not being a fan of Shearer as a pundit I loved the way he tore the juvenile Phil Neville a new one by completely refuting the nonsense he was spouting on MotD2 on Sunday. About time too! And, by the way, my complaint to the BBC against Neville’s incitement of violence purely because he didn’t like a superb Rosicky dummy in a game was fobbed of with typical old boys club panache. )
So who is the biggest non-GK ball hoofer and what team does he represent? And who are the other hoofers and teams? Well………..
1 Alderweireld (of the team currently be lauded as a top footballing side by the media and pundits)
2 J Henderson (of another team being lauded etc etc)
3 Pogba (that most expensive player from a team that the media will never become tired of fawning over)
4 Jagielka (not too surprised by that one)
5 Matic (the media have seemingly reattached themselves to Chelski having gone decidedly cold in the not too distant past)
6 Drinkwater (…….but hold on, wasn’t everybody saying last season he was a brilliantly skilful English footballer playing for worthy Champions?)
7 Lovren (see 2 above)
8 Van Dijk (again perhaps not a surprise)
9 Vertonghen (see 1 above)
10 Delaney (Palace are again a team not renowned for slick possession football)
So in the top 10, we find the majority of hoofers are actually playing for teams the media tell us play slick, high quality football. (Incidentally, in 11th place was yet another Tiny Tot (Dier), so the Spuds have 3 of the top 11 hoofers). How can this be? The pundits and “journalists” are the real experts…..or at least that’s what they tell us!
So what of AFC, well we must accept that we have the 14th most prevalent outfield hoofer in Granit Xhaka. I was disappointed with that so I thought I’d give everyone another chance and look to see if perhaps they were all being misjudged. Maybe they weren’t just hoofing it, maybe the pundits were correct and they were merely playing brilliant long balls straight to the feet of team mates. So I looked at percentage pass completion.
Now blow me down if only one of the players mentioned above appeared in the top twenty players for successful pass completion percentages. Matic crept in at No. 14….that is unless you include one Mr Xhaka who has the 8th best pass completion of any player in the premiership.
Ironically, the Mr Pogba that the media still seem to want to defend for being a wonderful footballer (purely because of who he players for I would suggest) and is the third biggest hoofer also commits more fouls per game than any other player.
A particular favourite of mine from last weekend being this one for which he wasn’t even penalised……somebody ran into the back of my car a couple of months ago and I would imagine Pogba caused considerably more whiplash that the white van man I encountered!
But that’s enough of my fact finding. As I said, statistical evidence proves little in isolation……….but it is nonetheless better than no evidence at all.
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