The real reason Arsenal bought Rice, and thankfully the media were wrong in January.



By Tony Attwood

The current narrative in the media is clear, and is set out in an article in the Athletic: “Moving from ‘Project Youth 2.0’ going into the 2021-22 season to signing experienced players in their mid-twenties this time last year was key to Arsenal raising their level.”

Except that in the summer of 2022 Arsenal were trying desperately hard to sign Mudryk for around £88.5m – at least that is what 63 articles in 19 different publications said.  Indeed Sky ran the headline on Mykhailo Mudryk: “Chelsea agree £88.5m transfer deal for Arsenal target and Shakhtar Donetsk winger.”  But it didn’t happen, so Chelsea got him – and finished 40 points behind Arsenal.

But if Arsenal really had been about to sign Mudruk as the media promised, would Arsenal have been able to go for Rice?  It seems unlikely.  Instead we would have been stuck with the dud.

Yet that question is not asked, because newspapers don’t talk about their past nonsense.  Arsenal clearly have money to be spent – but not enough to do a Chelsea and spend it on a player who has not been able to deliver, and then go out and do it again.

Our view remains that Arsenal never wanted Mudryk and were helping to push Chelsea into a corner built of their own belief that it is possible to spend one’s way out of mid-table mediocrity. The media having made chumps of themselves, abandoned the story and left Chelsea isolated.

Rice on the other hand serves as a continuation of last summer’s strategy: a young player who was starting almost all the matches for his previous club, and who fits into the Arsenal system.

So now the media has to change the tune and we now have Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville saying “Rice is only worth around £50m-£60m.”   Anything to cover up the complete balls up made of the last transfer window… although to be fair there is a sign of recognition of the stupidity of the media’s attitude to transfer as revealed in the piece, What difference did last summer’s transfers make?)

Arsenal are an embarrassment for the media.   Of course they can still slip in a mention of the £72m paid for Pepe as a reminder that Arsenal don’t know what they are doing, but as with the Mirror’s article on big mistakes made in the transfer market, they are waking up to the fact that most transfers are a waste of money.  And besides if there is an old story, then surely Pepe is it.

The Athletic, anxious to find the new angle now suggest Arsenal are “moving from ‘Project Youth 2.0’ going into the 2021-22 season to “signing experienced players in their mid-twenties this time.”

In other words, the youngsters such as Martinelli, Saka, Smith Rowe, and Odegaard are not to be mentioned.   Especially Odegaard, of whom Bleacher said, as Arsenal contemplated signing him…

“The Norwegian teen had a host of trials at the likes of Liverpool and Bayern Munich, and he essentially had his pick of which club to join, eventually opting for Real Madrid in January 2015….

“Two years on, he has been labeled a disaster by Sport and has now been sent out on loan to Heerenveen in the Dutch Eredivisie.   Odegaard wasn’t a star for Real Madrid, he wasn’t even a star at Castilla, the B team.”

So according to all of last year’s reports Arsenal should be a mid-table team in a position akin to that actually occupied by Chelsea,   Yet the truth is the whole media should be a laughing stock for having got everything so wrong.

Yet the media now pretend is that they have understood and appreciated Arsenal’s approach all along.  As the Athletic says of Arsenal, “Rice serves as a continuation of last summer’s strategy…”

Indeed the Athletic along with others are now sketching out Arsenal’s first XI – and they also add a few choices…


White / Timber    Saliba    Gabriel    Zinchenko

Odegaard    Rice   Havertz / Smith Rowe

Jesus    Saka    Martinelli


But of course there is a point about Rice which is often overlooked.  He was part of the West Ham team which managed to engage in a very high number of tackles but have an amazingly low level of fouls and cards.

Last season, Arsenal indulged in fewer tackles per game than West Ham, but nevertheless got more fouls given against them, and received more yellow cards against them per game, than West Ham.  In fact, this past season West Ham put in more tackles than any other team before getting a card, and committed far more fouls than any other team before getting a card.  


Pos Team Tackles/ Foul Tackles/ Card Fouls/ Card
2 Arsenal 1.52 10.87 7.15
14 West Ham United 1.68 13.79 11.88


Those West Ham figures are the figures Arsenal now need – to be able to put in more tackles before being called out for a foul, to be able to put in more tackles before getting a yellow card and to be able to commit more fouls before a player is carded.   If Arsenal can replicate what West Ham has been doing, that will be a major step towards overtaking Manchester City.

7 Replies to “The real reason Arsenal bought Rice, and thankfully the media were wrong in January.”

  1. A really dim witted piece. You must have worked for a paper in the past. Some of your articles are just as distorted as the press. You are no better than them.

  2. I have never been a fan of masochism. The idea that, people who so clearly find something so painful, they put themselves through the same thing again and again and continue to complain about it. Oh well, each to their own…….but I do wish they would realise how tedious it is for the vast majority of us to keep hearing the same old moaning on a continual basis.

  3. Mikey

    It seems some people just cannot figure out the underlying themes that Untold Arsenal attempt to address, particularly with regards to how the media report on the game, ignoring issues such as:

    Regarding how the game is officiated:

    -The secretive nature of the PGMOL.

    -The low number of referees.

    -The Northern bias of referees.

    -The ridiculously deviant refereeing performances regarding home and away bias.

    There are other issues, but they are just for starters.

    Regarding the corrupt nature of FIFA and UEFA:

    -How the media, almost to a man, point blank refuse to disuse the incompetent and corrupt nature of not only those bodies but many of the individuals within them.

    Regarding the FA:

    -Such as the money for grass roots football. Where did that go?

    -Such as the money from the community shield. Where did that money go?

    There are other issues but that’s just for starters.

    Regarding the ownership of clubs and the growing influence of the Far/Middle East :

    -It’s hardly been mentioned (in a negative context) until recently, and even then, given the piece by Piers Morgan last night, they see nothing wrong with any of it. As far as they seemed to be concerned the ‘states’ are going to be the saviours of the game. Apparently sports washing is okay because being gay in the 60’s was still illegal in Britain so we have no right to take the moral high ground

    Well on that basis, we still burnt witches up until about 400 years ago so we can hardly complain about a few beheadings can we?

    Has there ever been a weaker argument to justify something than “well you used to do it”? Absolutely pathetic.

    The negative tone of reporting on Arsenal:

    Talksport, and Adrian Durham are a particularly extreme example of how the media endlessly paint Arsenal in a bad light. Durham even had a daily article highlighting how bad we are. Has any other club had to tolerate such constant abuse?

    This site is called ‘Untold’ for a reason, and that is because it talks about the issues that others refuse to talk about.

    Now if you don’t agree with Untold doing that, or it bores you rigid, don’t come here. It’s not rocket science.

    Yes, everyone has a right to disagree, but coming here just to ‘heckle’, for want of a better word, is like a rock fan going to a Jazz festival with the sole intension of heckling the band simply because they think what they are playing is crap.

    They may well be, in your opinion, but surely the sensible thing to do, for all concerned, is you stay away and go to a rock concert in stead, where you and the Jazz fans would be much happy.

    Seems a simple solution to me but alas some people just love to heckle.

  4. The worst thing about football ? The fans. You only have to go on the BBC’s HYS or the few MSM outlets that allow comments to see how they react – most like demented chickens suffering from st vitus dance syndrome.
    Put a fact in front of their eyes & they will tell you black is white. Show them stats that put Player A in the top 6 in the world for his position & they will tell you he is a total overpriced piece of crap. And if said player after being told he’s not wanted should have the temerity to move across town he will receive a blitzkrieg of abuse. Or having fulfilled his contractual obligation should do. the same by moving across town the reaction is what the Americans call “Gone full postal” And continues even after said player has retired from the game.
    As for referee bias. Xhaka having been signed the MSM were at the start of the season full of articles on how many cards he had received in the Bundesliga, especially red. It seemed when he received his first yellow & red cards for the most innocuous tackles the referees had put bets on who could card him the first.
    PS Wether fans like it or not the stats show referees are biased, wether conscious or unconscious. Go and look up the stats

  5. Andrew Banks,
    Do you have any facts to back up your opinion?
    Didn’t think so.

  6. @ Nitram

    I’ve just realised that what I wrote could have been misconstrued as criticism on UA and Tony. I hope you didn’t think that!! It was most definitely an observation on the first comment above by Mr Banks!

  7. Mikey

    Sorry, it wasn’t aimed at you my friend. Similarly I’ve re read and realise my post could also be misconstrued. I too was talking to our bad penny.

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