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By Tony Attwood
The general assumption has been that Arsenal have missed Gabriel Jesus, and that his return as a 77th-minute substitute – his first action since he injured his knee at the World Cup for Brazil (many thanks Fifa) – means Arsenal has been strengthened.
But as we know, English journalists hate statistics, and so no one that I have seen has actually compared two simple facts: how Arsenal have managed without Jesus compared with how Arsenal performed with him. And by way of comparison how Manchester City have done at the same time.
Part 1 before the injury
|Pos||Team||P||F||A||GD||Pts||Goal per game||Points per Game|
So as we can see Arsenal were top, but were scoring fewer goals per game than Manchester City, even with Jesus in the Arsenal team.
But now let us compare the clubs in the period when Arsenal were playing without Jesus in the team
Part 2: Without Jesus
|Pos||Team||P||F||A||GD||Pts||Goals Per game||Points Per Game|
So the fact is that Arsenal without Jesus have scored more goals per game than they scored in the matches with Jesus. However,Arsenal without Jesus scored fewer points per game than in the period with Jesus.
In comparison, both Manchester City statistics have decreased as well. They have scored fewer goals per game in the latter part of the season coinciding with Jesus’ absence from Arsenal, while they have also gained just fractionally fewer points per game in this period.
What this suggests is that the Guardian’s phrase that Jesus was “the top flight’s best player before the World Cup” might be true if we consider the points per game issue. But if we see him as a goal scorer that is not the case.
Which gives emphasis to Arteta’s comment that Jesus would have to “fight for his place….Gabi has to earn his place like in any other team. We have alternatives …”
So let us move on and consider another issue: that of Mykhaylo Mudryk. He was (according to the media) the man Arsenal were trying to buy, before Chelsea came in and “swooped” on the player. He scored nine goals in 29 games for Shakhtar Donetsk and as a result, Chelsea paid €70 million, plus €30m in add-ons. Since then he has been in the Chelsea squad seven times, has started three times, come on as a sub three times and scored one goal.
The question remains – did Arsenal really want him? The “journalists” (I use the word lightly) said Arsenal did, but €100m seems rather out of Arsenal’s league, not least with the men they have scoring goals at the moment.
Besides, consider the goal scoring achievements of Manchester City, Arsenal and Chelsea, the team for whom Mudryk signed.
|Pos||Team||P||F||A||GD||Pts||Goals Per Game|
Arsenal and Manchester City are very close in terms of the number of goals scored – Manchester City are running at 2.48 goals per game across the season, to Arsenal’s Arsenal’s 2.30 goals a game.
Chelsea, before the signing of Mudryk were running at 1.1 goals a game. Now across the whole season they are knocking in 1.04 goals a game. In short they signed the player and the situation has got worse.
So the question arises, did Arsenal actually want this player or was it just a media story?
I can’t give you a definitive answer on this, but I can say that I have come across several instances where (journalists have reported in private) there is no doubt that clubs’ agents float rumours which are untrue for two very specific reasons. One is to edge the price up for a player that another team is going for, and the other is to deflect attention from the player that the club does want to sign (in return for which they get a tip off on some other matter at a later date). At the same time this approach can help keep the price of the player the club does want, down to a reasonable level while upping the price of a player another club is hoping to buy.
And just as I can’t give a definitive answer on that, so I can’t prove this happens, but it would explain why the percentage of transfer rumours circulated by newspapers and websites have an accuracy level of just 3%. It also explains why the stories about actual transfers that do happen, often only occur in the last few days before the signing happens.
Now much of the evidence for the fact that Arsenal were going to sign Mudryk came from the Athletic, according to ESPN, who said that Mikel Arteta, Edu and Oleksandr Zinchenko called Mudryk “almost every day, every two days, every three days.”
So how would they know that? The only people who would have said something like that would be someone at Arsenal or at Shakhtar both of whom would have an interest in upping the price Chelsea had to pay, and for Arsenal would cover for their approaches for Leandro Trossard and Jorginho. And Shakhtar would be delighted with the ploy because it would push the price of their player up if they could say, “Arsenal are bidding for the player”. Certainly the Guardian among others, lapped it all up.
And certainly something made Chelsea move early as by 17 January he was a Chelsea man, and (I am told) Arsenal were trying hard to conceal their smiles.
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