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Xhaka and uselessness. It turns out it wasn’t him at all, but can you guess who was useless?

By Tony Attwood

As we know, football journalists hunt in packs.  The one thing they don’t like doing is stepping outside the norm, and coming up with an idea that is different from anything their rivals are saying.  If that ever does happen they immediately slap the word EXCLUSIVE on their report, which is a sort of code for saying “I’m stepping over the line here”.

The current object of their bile and hatred is Granit Xhaka, a man brought into the team to touch the ball and pass the ball.

Men who can do both – touch the ball and pass it successfully are surprisingly hard to find which perhaps explains why most journalists, their bloggetta friends and the broadcasters don’t quite understand the art of either – or indeed the art of both.

But it is something recognised by the top clubs, as they tend to go in for players who touch the ball a lot and pass it accurately, which is what Granit Xhaka does.

So because of this complete and fundamental lack of understanding of Xhaka and his role it is I suppose not surprising to see stories like….

Arsenal: Granit Xhaka should be dropped, but who for? (Pain in the Arsenal)

“Charlie Nicholas has urged Arsenal to drop GranitXhaka for the coming matches, … Drop him because he’s bloody useless.”

Arsenal should drop Granit Xhaka given woeful form this … (ESPN)

Granit Xhaka had a good first season with Arsenal but his increasingly woeful form makes him a prime candidate for the bench. When will it happen?

In the latest Arsenal team news, midfielder Granit Xhaka should be dropped from the starting XI for the Premier League game against Middlesbrough.

“GranitXhaka: If it isn’t going to help a central midfielder do a job as a defensive midfielder then frankly it’s a fucking useless … He shouldbe dropped …”

Arsenal should drop Granit Xhaka given woeful form this season …

Arsene Wenger can signal end of Arsenal’s culture of impunity by dropping Xhaka… (Telegraph)

Arsenal news: Arsene Wenger should drop Granit Xhaka (Express)

“Drop him forever Arsene!” Arsenal fans slaughter Granit Xhaka (Mirror)

www.mirror.co.uk › Sport › Football › Granit Xhaka

And so it goes on and on and on and on and on.  Sorry I missed out writing down who said or wrote some of those comments but if you want to know you can type them into Google and they will pop up.

Charlie Nic certainly said it, as ever without much evidence or any sort of statistical base, and everyone leaps on and says yep, he has to go.  Everyone followed him.

So to be fair on the newspaper men and women and their camp followers they don’t really have to know why Xhaka should be dropped, it is just the thing people say so they are saying it as well.   Charlie is a bit of a turnip, and so it is a bit much to expect him to know why he’s said anything.  But it is amusing when everyone follows.

Anyone let’s have a look at Granit’s figures…

Players who make successful passes are generally in demand.  You might remember that Gilberto was one such.  In fact he became captain of Brazil for doing it, although he was rather heavily criticised at first at Arsenal for not doing much.  It was only when he was out for a year everyone realised why we needed him.

So how does Xhaka compare to other players on this score?  Here is the ranking of top passers in the Premier League at the moment.

Rank Player Club Successful passes
1. Nicolás Otamendi Manchester City 770
2. Granit Xhaka Arsenal 762
3. Fernandinho Manchester City 743
4. David Silva Manchester City 713
5. Jan Vertonghen Tottenham Hotspur 675
6. Nemanja Matic Manchester United 670
7. Oriol Romeu Southampton 669
8. John Stones Manchester City 662
9. Toby Alderweireld Tottenham Hotspur 647
10. Nacho Monreal Arsenal 627

You’ll notice perhaps that the players who do the successful passes come from the teams mostly nearer the top of the league.  It is a trait that managers look for in players because it tends to help teams do rather well in the league – although one might excuse Charlie for not knowing that.

So let us move on to touches.   Players who touch the ball a lot are rather influential in games.  It is no good being rather clever at passes if you don’t touch the ball much or indeed vice versa. So here is the list of players according to how many touches they have.  Find someone who touches the ball a lot and passes it successfully, and you have a winner,

Rank Player Club Touches
1. Granit Xhaka Arsenal 909
2. Nicolás Otamendi Manchester City 871
3. Fernandinho Manchester City 852
4. David Silva Manchester City 843
5. Jan Vertonghen Tottenham Hotspur 830
6. Nemanja Matic Manchester United 811
7. Kevin De Bruyne Manchester City 808
8. Oriol Romeu Southampton 800
9. Nacho Monreal Arsenal 767
10. Toby Alderweireld Tottenham Hotspur 745

Once again players who touch the ball a lot are liked by clubs in the upper part of the league.

So as I say, to find a player who touches the ball a lot and successfully passes the ball a lot is rather clever.   Quite why Charlie and all his camp followers doesn’t quite get this I don’t know.  Maybe someone on Sky Sprouts will ask him.

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57 comments to Xhaka and uselessness. It turns out it wasn’t him at all, but can you guess who was useless?

  • Goonermikey

    I’ve been very fond of the phrase in the past, “those that can, do; those that can’t, teach”. (And no it’s not aimed at teachers but SOME ‘professionals’ who don’t practice but choose to lecture as it’s easier and there’s no responsibility involved.)

    I think the phrase needs to be adapted for football though. It should read, “those that can, manage; those that can’t, talk about it as though they can.”

  • John L

    The media always seem to need at least one Arsenal player to target for criticism.
    Currently its Xhaka. Recently it was 0zil. In between times, they revert to their old targets, such as Ramsey, Giroud, Walcott, or whoever is in goal (all the keepers post Seaman have been targeted at some time )

  • Grandad

    Based on stats Otamendi is the best player in the premier league?.He is in fact one of the poorer players in the Man City side. CN is wrong about Xhaka. He is not useless but like Mustafi he is bang average.

  • Flares

    Speaking of useless objects, the increasingly boorish Adam Bate was up to his usual tricks on Sky Sports yesterday. In this instance, Bate attempts to position Mauricio Pochettino as an elite manager despite his winning absolutely bugger all since entering management a decade ago, including a quite breathtaking first paragraph in which he suggests Poch needs not win a single trophy to be considered amongst the world’s best.
    He then tries to justify this vain remark by comparing the Premier League titles of Mikkel Silvestre with Thierry Henry, conveniently omitting the small matter of Henry also acquiring winners medals in La Liga, the Champions League, World and European Cups, in addition to finishing runner-up in the Ballon D’Or. Bate then drones on about resources and expectations before foolishly bringing up the importance of consistency. Accordingly, Pochettino’s credentials are ‘obvious’ because Spurs have picked up more points than any other PL team for the last three seasons, whilst Arsene Wenger – according to Bate’s previous scathing assessments – has been at fault in providing the trifling matter of two decades worth of Champions League football for his club. This chilly torrent of drivel trundles remorselessly on until Bate delivers his masterstroke: a rousing cheer to the manager who sacrifices heaving piles of glittering silverware for stability, youth promotion and stylish football…

    ‘The trophies are yet to come Pochettino’s way but that is a debate for the fans on their forums. It is not how boards and presidents, chairman and chief executives, should assess a coach’s credentials. The concern should not be about what a man has done in the past but what he will do next. In a sense, it is this truth that former Southampton chief executive Nicola Cortese grasped when opting to bring Pochettino to England in 2013. “He also shares my belief that the most successful clubs are built by nurturing young players through a development system that provides a clear path to the first team, thereby creating a culture that keeps them at the club for the long term.”‘

    Hmmmm. Now where have I witnessed such a visionary and progressive attitude to managing a football team before? Answers on a postcard please. My suspicion is that the entire article was cleverly devised to draw not-so-subtle attention to the new book Brave New World: Inside Pochettino’s Spurs by Sky Sports own professional arse-licker extraordinaire Guillem Balague (the absurdly self-reverential article on this elsewhere on the website likens the writing process to that of Tolstoy. I kid you not.)

    Regardless, it’s all such supercilious, speculative shite that one cannot help but laugh at Bate’s obvious lack of awareness. Almost every minutae of what is glorified about Pochettino and his club has been previously, and continues to be, exemplified by Arsene Wenger throughout his career. It all smacks of hypocrisy and desperation. How will Bate analyse the inevitable departure of Harry Kane? It beggars belief, but I’m sure he’ll find a way to name check our favourite Frenchman somewhere….

  • Grandad: what an extraordinary thing to assert.

  • Goonereris

    Xhaka is one player who divides opinion but it is easy to see why Wenger brought him and has played him in every league game. It says a lot about his role that any slip by him usually spells danger; for this reason, he needs to strive to retain possession better and be aware of who’s about. He also deserves a shout from team mates if he’s under threat.

    Having said that, that man is only 23 and has evident leadership qualities as he never hides, is always the first to race over to celebrate goals and never stops trying. He will get better with some on-field guidance by those around him.

  • Chris

    Flares,

    I would not be surprised that Pocchetino leaves the Suprs one of these days…without a trophy.
    As you mentionned, so far he’s got no success to speak about, reaching CL a few times is but a blip compared to AWs record.
    And just wait till injuries or tiredness come about.

    By the way, maybe Arsenal ought to just get Kane rather then search abroad…..

  • Dexter

    Hi Tony
    You could get a job as a Spin Doctor with all your smoke and mirrors! I doubt there are many who don’t think Granit is a decent footballer.

    But what he is unable to do effectively is be a decent defensive cover for our much maligned defence. It’s funny you mention Gilberto because he was the last decent DM we had. He was awesome.

  • John L

    I recall that Gilberto was criticised by the usual crowd of ‘supporters’ as not being as good as Petit.

    I would not want Kane to join us, despite him being the greatest footballer on the planet.

  • Vivek Arulnathan

    Frankly, this is bordering on stupidity. What matters is not how many passes you make or your number of touches, it is rather how many successful passes you make. A good example of why number of touches is a useless stat can be seen in the first goal we conceded against Everton. Xhaka’s touch counts in your metric which obviously doesn’t reflect the fact that that touch was a poor one and directly led to a goal. Here is a compilation of Xhaka’s stats for the season.

    In 9 games, Xhaka has had 14 bad touches leading to loss of possession and has been dispossessed 4 times. As for his passing, he has had 576 accurate short passes and 106 inaccurate short passes. 106! For a midfielder with minimal defensive contribution and who is primarily in the team for his passing, that is extremely poor. As for long passes, he has had 53 successful and 27 unsuccessful. Again for someone renowned for his passing, it’s a really poor output. That’s 3 unsuccessful long balls and 12 unsuccessful short passes per game. His passing success rate this season is 82.5%! For a midfielder that’s unacceptable, even more for someone who has minimal defensive effect. He has the lowest passing success rate among all midfielders in the top 6 teams. So yeah….people aren’t exaggerating when they say he’s woefully out of form. And as usual, Untold will not respond to comments countering their claims with actual statistics. And statistics in the right context dare I say.

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    Xhaka’s endearing top quality passing in the PL games for Arsenal has made
    him a regular starter for Arsenal who shouldn’t be missed playing for Arsenal when fit and in top form.

    But how true is it that Arsenal could be forced by the EFL athorities to replay the Carabao Cup match they played last night at the Ems against Norwich for over substitution in the match? If it turned out to be so, where will the replay takes place? At the Ems again or Carrow Road or at a neutral ground? At any rate, if it boils down to Arsenal have to replay this match, I believe they are not afraid to do so but confident of beating Norwich any time any place any where to qualify for the quarter final of the competition..

  • Chris

    Spurs have just lost at Wembley again.
    And out of the Carabao Cup.
    But then, they are such a great team with so much promise….

  • MickHazel

    A distinct lack of ‘cojones’ on display at Wembley tonight!!!🙂

  • Nitram

    2 – 0 up. 3 – 2 down. Who are the kings of capitulation now?

  • Nitram

    No conjones.

    Capitulation.

    Never mind. At least it was only in front of a half full stadium.

    I’m sure they’ll be ripped apart in the media tomorrow.

  • Pat

    Another great article Tony. You produced the evidence as usual. It really does make you wonder where these pundits, experts, journalists and all the rest get their ideas from. Not from an analysis of hard facts, that’s for sure. Sad thing how is how many people just repeat what they say like sheep.

  • John L

    Spurs have proved tonight that the League Cup is not really a trophy.

  • Chris

    Yeah the official line will be : not a trophy, we could care less and as one of the S*rs blogs put it : if I don’t blog about it it never happened….

    It’s 30 min now, and, even as I do not have metrics, but compared to the onslaught in the blogosphere that comes after an Arsenal defeat what I see is rather ‘gentle’.
    I see only one post with twitter rage from Spurs fans. 30 min after an Arsenal game, there are always quite a few, even if we win.

    Then again, we are a big club and reactions are so much more ‘massive0’ because of it ?!? ;=)

  • Nitram

    Spurs cant even win the non non trophies now, let alone the non trophies or heaven forbid the ones that are actually still trophies.

  • Chris

    By the way, they made 7 changes from last week-end…. and 2 or 3 were returning from injury.
    They are not done having an issue with players if you ask me.

  • John L

    Even Dell Ali’s diving skills and Mike Dean’s refereeing could not win it for Spurs

  • Pat

    Indeed John L. I laughed.

  • Chris

    Tony,

    that post from Mick ought to be in the UA Hall of Fame….

    I’d say thatthe number of blogs bringing up this issue has just doubled.. ;=)

  • Gord

    Nice link Mick.

  • GoingGoingGooner

    “Wembley was half full at kick-off, an impressive effort in the circumstances. It is easy to be blasé about these things, but in reality 36,000 fans for a midweek third-tier domestic cup competition is pretty sensational going.”

    The Guardian is in a forgiving mood for Spurs fans at Wembley.

    Am I mistaken in remembering them slag us for getting in the mid-40k for some matches in the last couple of years? Remind me again how many were at the Emirates on Tuesday? According to worldfootball.net we have averaged 51k per League Cup match…Spurs 30k…

  • Josif

    @Nitram

    “Never mind. At least it was only in front of a half full stadium.”

    For the media, glass is always half full for Spurs and half empty for us.

    Think about it: we came from a goal behind against Everton to smash them 5:2, created around 30 chances in the game and there is a consensus that the game could/should have ended with even bigger score. As a result, The Guardian – of all places – published a piece from Jamie Jackson that we had already analyzed here.

    Also, pitchforks were out there for another hunt on Arsene’s head while we were losing against Norwich. Thanks to Madley’s two big decisions that went our way and Nketiah’s brilliance, we won the game and they had to return tools to the shed.

    Tonight, Spurs had a two-goal lead at the break, looked like a safe bet for a serious thrashing of West Ham only to concede three times in the second half and capitulate. Still, no comments on how Spurs are mentally weak, how their manager made a stupid statement on domestic cups etc.

  • Gord

    OT: Arsenal Ladies

    Pedro Losa is leaving as manager.

    From the Arsenal.com page:

    > Assistant coach Ismael Garcia will take temporary charge of the team before our forthcoming league match at Everton. We hope to make a full-time appointment in the near future.

    https://www.arsenal.com/news/losa-leave-arsenal-after-three-year-spell

    I wonder who Arsenal is looking at to take over the Ladies team?

    Andrew, have you applied? 🙂

    I wonder how some of the ex Mens Gunners who have been involved with Arsenal in a non-player capacity might do in this regard? Too sexist?

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Nice link ,Mick . Glad to know that there are others who feel the same way as we here do. Realisation of the truth just took a longer time for some !

    And speaking of morons and cojones –

    A man got on the bust with both of his front trouser pockets full of golf balls , and sat down next to a pretty blonde girl.

    The puzzled blonde kept looking at him and his bulging pockets.

    Finally , after many glances from her , he said , “It’s golf balls.”

    The blonde continued to look at him for a very long time , thinking deeply about what he had said.

    After several minutes , and not being able to contain her curiosity any longer, she finally asked , ” Does it hurt as much as tennis elbow ?”

  • Chris

    By the way, the game at the Emirates agaisnt Norwich is the game with the largest attendance for the Carabao Cup so far

    http://www.espnfc.com/english-carabao-cup/41/statistics/performance

    reading the Guardian this morning and their piece about the Sp*urs getting the asses kicked you’d think it was a miracle at Wembley…

    Just one more example of biased reporting. And by the way, I’m still not seing any piece asking for a change of manager, fuming about lack of cojones, explaining the meltdown in defense. No, just lots of mittigating circumstances and positivity. Which we had such a nice press.

    And by the way, didn’t the Sp*rs winn the League Cup a few years ago and still bring that about as a trophy ? Well they’ve then just eliminated it from their history as reading all the comments it is now a non-trophy.

  • Pat

    I just read on Arsenal.com that Olivier Giroud’s scorpion kick won the Puzkas award for the best goal of the year. Congratulations to him!

  • Nitram

    If ever there was an opportunity for our accusers to demonstrate just how wrong we are about media bias this is surely it.

    Man city, the most expensively assembled squad in history not only struggle to get past a championship side but there ‘best manager in the World’ blames the ball.

    Can you imagine the shit storm we and especially Wenger would of faced ?

    Spurs? What do I need to say? I mean, the media must be slaughtering them. The blogosphere must be in melt down?

    Just a Dozen or so links will do. You know, just to show how balanced the media is.

  • Chris

    Nitram,

    I kept a pdf of all entries on an aggregator 30 min after the game. next time Arsenal lose (in 2019 I guess ;=)) ) I’ll take the same snapshot 30 min after the game…and just for the fun of it I’ll do it anyway next game, whatever the result. And then I’ll be counting and we’ll have a facts based analysis which is what UA is about.

    A little thought….it can be that Sp*urs get less clobered because far fewer people give a shit.
    After all they got only 36’000 people wanting to visit them at great Wembley, whereas disjointed Arsenal had a record Carabao Cup attendance of more then 50’000 at the Emirates. So maybe our fame and huge following are something we have to live with as it comes with this negativity side-effect…. ;=)

    And I agree with you that if Mr Wenger were to argue anything beyond his own faults, he’d be clobered.
    Thinking about it, just a question : did Arsenal and Norwich play with a diffrent kind of ball ?!? Because his excuses ought then to be valid for any PL team that lost, ought it not ?

    Maybe Home Office ought to check all balls now, because there seem to be some illegal foreigners among them…

  • MickHazel

    The Star have done a piece today on which clubs have the best win record when being down to ten men over the last 5 years.
    Given that Arsenal are a bunch of softies who have no cojones, no backbone, are full of bottlers and have no leaders you would expect us to be near the bottom. Surprise, surprise we actually come second on 44% behind Man City the winners.
    Tottenham are near the bottom on 10%. 😂
    https://www.dailystar.co.uk/sport/football/655266/Premier-League-stats-red-cards-10-men-win-ratios-sendings-off-clubs-record-sportgalleries

  • Chris

    Mick,

    thanks for the link. The one info that is missing is how many times this happened, and what the score whas when it happened.
    But as you say, we’ve got no guts but still are up there.

  • Vivek Arulnathan
    I have been searching for the source of your figures but can’t find it. Can you supply the source please so I can read the original.

  • Jammy

    This is a fairly biased and unfair article. I’ve got no problem with Xhaka, but by posting only these two sets of stats it really does not give the full picture in the slightest. People never complain about the amount of touches and passes that he makes, so if you really wanted to prove these people wrong, you would have to post stats such as defensive errors, successful passes, possession score ect and compare them to the top players in similar positions.

    If anyone would like to do so, then this is the best method – http://www.squawka.com/comparison-matrix#premier_league/2017/2018/granit_xhaka/819/819/2103/0/p#total

  • Jammy

    I mean, is this article not doing the very thing that it so readily condemns the media for doing?

  • Vivek Arulnathan

    If you think what Tony wrote were facts, you are deluded. It’s distortion of stats to suit your deluded ideas.

  • Zedsaunt

    Good link Mick. Thank you.

  • JimB

    Bless all of you tin foil hat wearers for your continued obsession with how victimised Arsenal is. You make for very amusing reading.

  • Vivek your commentary would have more validity if you explained why the statistics are wrong. I know one person has claimed they are wrong because some of the passes went astray, but this is not what the official statistics from the League are showing. I am hoping to get more information on the stats that are reported to undermine what I am saying. If someone will give me the details I will most certainly publish them then we can compare data and draw proper conclusions.

    But just calling me deluded doesn’t actually take the argument any further forwards.

  • Nitram

    JimB

    Show us some evidence of how Spurs, City and Pep are getting the similar amount of abuse we did following our win.

    Coming here with your sarcastic little digs and no evidence doesn’t really get us anywhere does it?

  • Nitram

    JimB

    And take a look a Vivek.

    I’m not saying he’s right or wrong, or Tony for that matter, but at least they are both trying to debate with evidence and counter evidence.

    You on the other hand……..

  • Jammy

    Nitrim – I’ve already asked JimB to provide some evidence that Spurs are treated in anyway similar to Arsenal and his only counter-argument was that occasionally they’ll talk about how Pochettino or a few players are going to leave. That was his response after I gave him about 10 different examples of how Arsenal are repeatedly ridiculed and criticised by the media and our own fans. His complete and utter lack of rebuttals more than speaks for itself.

  • Nitram

    And in any case I’d be interested to see how these stats, once they are all in and analysed, pan out.

    I like Xhaka but he does make mistakes and is by no means perfect. But as usual he is nowhere near as bad as so many in the blogosphere, the media and our own fans, try to make out.

    But isn’t that always the way with our players ?

    Our keepers always get it in the ear. They’re all crap, that goes without saying

    Lets have a look at who else cops it.

    What about the defence.

    Well we all know Mertesakers rubbish, as is Monreal. Oh and Holdings not up to much either is he? That Belerin fellows a bit of a let down too I’ve read. Even Koscielny was rated not good enough until everyone actually had to agree that he was.

    The midfield is full of crap too I hear.

    Well lets start with that German guy, Ozil. Well as we all know, he’s ‘nicking a living’ for a start. Ramsey? Well he’s never come back since someone tried to break him in half has he. The abuse he gets from his own fans is really something special. Then we have Coquelin. Garbage apparently. Another one like Xhaka that cant tackle for toffee I hear. Elneny, he’s been in the firing line lately hasn’t he.Not good enough for Arsenal. Then of course there’s our Jack. Tooooooooo slow by far. Keeps getting HIMSELF injured that one.

    Then up front we have the perennial waste of space Theo. Then we have Olivier ‘Scorpion man’ Giroud. Apparently the topic of the day is, how can a player that’s so shit score such great goals?

    Is there anyone I left out that isn’t fair game for a bashing from the media AND our own fans?

    I defy anyone to deny that all of them haven’t for long periods of there Arsenal careers been attacked as crap by the media and certain sections of our own fans. Most, if not all in fact, still are.

    F**k me, it’s easier to name the players that DON’T get derided by the media.

    Xhaka just happens to be the one in the firing line at this particular moment.

    You know it’s amazing, with all these shite players we have, compared to all the brilliant players we see at Spurs and Liverpool, how it’s us that have won 3 FA Cups in 4 years and those 2 have won sweet F A. Weird that.

    Untold Arsenal. Standing up, not only for our manager, but our players too, and proud of it.

    I mean, we are supposed to be ‘supporters’ after all.

  • Nitram

    I forgot Mustafi. He’s crap as well apparently.

  • JimB

    Backwards Martin and Jammy,

    You persist with demanding evidence that Spurs, and other clubs, receive similar treatment to that meted out to Arsenal – yet you haven’t once provided evidence of your own to support your tediously relentless accusations of persecution. Sure, you’ve cited a number of recent instances of laughably poor, even grossly unfair, journalism at Arsenal’s expense. But that’s only a tiny fraction of your task (and it is your task, not mine, because it is you and others on here who originated and persist with the claim that Arsenal are the victim of a vastly higher proportion of negative coverage than any other club). Until you have compiled and compared exhaustive research on every article, commentary, TV and radio slot on every club for the past 20 years (to provide a sufficiently wide spectrum of contrasting fortunes for each club), then your claim has no basis in fact and no credibility. And certainly, there is no requirement for me to furnish you with any evidence to counter your claim of a widespread media agenda specifically against Arsenal until you can provide at least some credible evidence to support it. Unlike you, I haven’t made any embarrassingly outlandish and immature claims that require me to make the first move.

    And Jammy, bless you for your attempt at spin but your use of the word “occasionally” in relation to Spurs and “repeatedly” in relation to Arsenal is rather too hamfistedly obvious, don’t you think? I’ll repeat, stories about Spurs’ manager and best players leaving / wanting to leave are a daily occurrence from multiple sources, rising to a crescendo before and during each transfer window. I could have cited countless other examples – “bottlers” (when winning 12 but losing 1 of their final 13 PL matches last season); the widespread desire for Spurs to fail when unsuccessfully chasing Leicester in 2015-16 – to name but two. When things haven’t been going so well at Spurs as they are now, comparatively, the media have routinely revelled in stories about it being a “crisis club”. More recently, just take a look at the Tottenham Newsnow page for yesterday – exactly the same kind of over the top, fact massaging coverage that you complain about.

    I don’t like it any more than you do. But I understand that it is just clickbait; that this is both the media’s modus operandi and their raison d’être; that all clubs get it in the neck, even when it is undeserved. So I don’t rise to it. And I’m certainly not going to stick out my bottom lip and rage and rail against the unfairness of it all while muttering wild conspiracy theories about a sustained and targeted media agenda against Spurs.

  • Vivek Arulnathan

    Tony….the source is the same you used for your latest article….whoscored.com. please do check. And it is a website with a good reputation for football stats. Now that Statszone is no longer available and opta are restrictive on what they make available, Whoscored is one of the best statistical sources out there. Also check out 7amkickoff and his ‘By the numbers’ series on Arseblog. It tells a similar story. Xhaka is a fantastic player struggling for form. I don’t see why it is difficult to accept even that. Players struggling for form is not a crime.

    And please tell me how does number of touches and passes become a metric for form of good performance? They are only if those touches we’re good and if those passes we’re successful. That’s my logic behind it.

  • Vivek, and if you want to go down to these details you have to include the average distance of the pass which is what I am doing. If a player has 100 passes and 99 of them are accurate but the average distance is 2m then that is far less value than if the player is delivering passes which travel about half the width of the pitch. I really can’t understand why you don’t see this.

  • Nitram

    JimB

    I’ve supplied links many many times as you well know.

    Nice try.

  • Nitram

    JimB

    “Sure, you’ve cited a number of recent instances of laughably poor, even grossly unfair, journalism at Arsenal’s expense. But that’s only a tiny fraction of your task (and it is your task, not mine, because it is you and others on here who originated and persist with the claim that Arsenal are the victim of a vastly higher proportion of negative coverage than any other club). Until you have compiled and compared exhaustive research on every article, commentary, TV and radio slot on every club for the past 20 years (to provide a sufficiently wide spectrum of contrasting fortunes for each club), then your claim has no basis in fact and no credibility.”

    So you expect me to find 20 years of evidence:

    “Until you have compiled and compared exhaustive research on every article, commentary, TV and radio slot on every club for the past 20 years”

    yet you don’t think you have to support your counter argument with any evidence at all.

    “and it is your task, not mine”

    What a ridiculous thing to say. Beyond pathetic.

  • Vivek Arulnathan

    Tony, I understand the point you make about passing distance. Whoscored clearly divide between short and long passes. His accuracy for long passes is closer to 60%. His short passing is around 85%. So yes, by any measure of short passing, that needs to improve. He is primarily in the team for his ability on the ball and that’s why I think he should be doing better. And was doing better last season but seems to have gone into a wretched run of form.
    Also, 106 misplaced passes is too many. 12 per game! You can deduce two things from this. Either he is attempting outrageously tough passes and is failing. Which is fair. But I see us play every game and Xhaka also seems to be making some bad decisions with his passing leading to misplaced passes. We do not have a midfield destroyer in the Kante mould and with Ramsey regularly playing higher up the pitch, Xhaka’s passing is so crucial to us retaining possession and building attacks.
    Which is why I think he can and should be doing better. Also, I still don’t get how no.of touches or no.of attempted passes is a correct metric to judge Xhaka’s performance. Those are two metrics I’ve hardly seen used in any major statistical analysis of performance. A player can touch the ball a 100 times and attempt a 100 passes. But the quality of those touches and accuracy of the passes are much better indicators of performance standards.

  • JimB

    Nitram

    What you still haven’t grasped is that you haven’t remotely proved your case.

    All you have done is provide me with a comparatively minuscule number of links relating to just one club – Arsenal. What does that prove? Well, I suppose that you could say that it proves that Arsenal is on the receiving end of a significant amount of negative media coverage. But in order to prove your risible claim, you would also have to prove that other clubs receive nothing like as much by way of negative coverage. And that you have singularly failed to do. If your whinge was simply that Arsenal deserves more by way of positive coverage, then I would have had no beef with what you wrote. I might even have agreed and added that the same is true for most clubs. But there was a second part to your whinge which insists that Arsenal receives massively more by way of negative coverage than any other club and that there is a concerted and persistent media agenda against Arsenal. And I will continue to call you out on that until you have made the effort to prove it rather than just state it as fact and hope that everyone will nod unthinkingly in agreement.

    That’s why I repeatedly say that the onus is not on me to prove anything. It is you, not me, who has made an unsubstantiated, outlandish claim. It is up to you to prove it in the first instance, not up to me to disprove it.

    Furthermore, you seem to base much of your sense of persecution on what other Arsenal fans are saying and writing. Quite apart from the fact that I’m not really sure that they constitute “the media”, whatever they write is merely a reflection of how a significant section of the Arsenal fan base feels. I get that those on UA are generally happy with the current set up – the players; the manager; the coaching and medical staff; the board of directors; the club’s philosophy; its wage structure; its transfer policy; etc. But there is evidently a significant proportion of the fan base – perhaps even a majority (I don’t know) – who are disgruntled. Whether they are justified in feeling thus is neither here nor there. All that matters is that they inform the debate and that that will naturally be noted and reflected by the mainstream media. By contrast, the Spurs fan base is currently largely united in being happy with how things are going at the club. There are therefore fewer negative articles emanating from Spurs’ fan base and less for the mainstream media to get their teeth into. Go back four years, however, and the picture was very different – a divided and dispirited fan base and a feast of negativity for the mainstream media. Similarly, it wasn’t so very long ago, when the Arsenal fan base was deliriously united, that Arsenal seemed to receive relentlessly positive coverage.

    That’s why I say that your research needs to encompass an extended period – to cover the spectrum of fan sentiment. The ball’s in your court. It’s up to you as to whether or not you wish to substantiate your claim but I really can’t see that it would be worth the enormous effort that it would take. Far better, surely, for you to be satisfied with merely stating that Arsenal deserves more positive coverage rather than bleating on about being singled out and persecuted.

  • Nitram

    JimB

    Just leave it mate you’re an idiot.

  • Jammy

    All of that writing and yet he still fails to provide a scrap of evidence that Spurs are treated in a similar way to Arsenal. Again, it absolutely speaks for itself.

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