Yesterday’s game: how Arsenal won, and where the journalists got things wrong


by Tony Attwood

So in the end the side that played for Arsenal in the league cup was not particularly unexpected except that we ended up with both Eddie and Jesus on the pitch at the same time.  Elneny didn’t start as we thought he might but he did come on for the last 10 minutes or so to hold the defence together and stop a late equaliser.   Ramsdale played as expected and acquitted himself exceptionally well.


White (Zinchenko 69), Tomiyasu, Gabriel, Kiwior;

Smith Rowe (Odegaard 82), Jorginho, Havertz;

Sagoe Jr (Jesus 69), Nketiah (Soares, 87), Nelson (Elneny 82).


Specifically thinking of Ramsdale coming back into the team, the Telegraph summed up the general consensus saying that “Ramsdale has the last laugh” later describing it as “a performance of the highest quality between the posts.”

Although perhaps more to the point was the comment that, “Emile Smith Rowe gives hint of what Arsenal have been missing on first start in 500 days.”   And it was a fair old day to do it – his 100th appearance for the first team.

The one young player to make his debut was Charles Sagoe Jr age 19, playing on the right wing.  Reports suggest he did ok, although most suggest it was Reiss Nelson who took the plaudits by scoring his first goal since the absolute screamer of all screamers to beat Bournemouth in the 150th minute last season.  (I may have exaggerated the timing but you know the one I mean).

The response by the home team was what one reporter indelicately suggested was a show of “their physicality” by the Brentford team, but there was Ramsdale, thankfully enjoying himself rather than sulking in the shadows.  In his post-match interview Mikel Arteta said. “When you don’t play that well, you have to have some big defensive moments. Ramsdale was exceptional. We love him for sure.”

And so for the next round, we have a situation in which most of the remaining Premier League sides have been drawn to play each other.   The main exception seems to be Chelsea vs Blackburn Rovers, but I suppose Chelsea need all the help they can get.  Fulham also have an easier one playing Ipswich.   Meanwhile Mansfield play Port Vale and Exeter vs Middlesbrough while the other Premier Leauge teams do indeed take on each other.

Elsewhere Everton continue to dominate the financial news, and although we have heard it a thousand times before they really do seem to be drifting towards the very edge.   According to the current reports they need £200m to complete the work on the new ground, having rather carelessly lost over £400m in the last four years.  These financiers eh?  What are they like!

Back with Chelsea there is a mention in the media of that fellow Mudryk that all of the reporters suggested Arsenal were desperate to sign but actually the club didn’t (leading to cries of incompetence, dithering and slowness).   Indeed, after a game against Southampton (remember them?) Sky Sports told anyone listening (which presumably did not include all the journalists who had repeatedly said that Arsenal were definitely signing the player) that Mudryk “had lost possession a whopping 20 times within the 40 minutes he featured after coming off the bench – the most ever achieved by a second half substitute.”  Can you imagine what they would have said if Arsenal had signed him?

Anyway, it seems that Mudryk still hasn’t scored despite costing £88m, and despite us being told again and again and again that a) he was a fine player and b) Arsenal were certain to get him.   The media are rather stuck on this one: they can’t claim that Arsenal lost the player through dithering, nor admit that Arsenal actually were putting up another smoke screen to hide the real transfer business they were doing.  It must be so tough being a football journalist.

Elsewhere there is an analysis from CIES Football Observatory on “the clubs that most dominate their opponents in 69 leagues across the world.”   The new statistic they have produced is the “average dominance ratio”.

I rather feel that with CIES’ eternal search for figures that no one else has ever produced they are tending to get so obscure I can lose track of them sometimes, for here, although the top of the average dominance ratio in the Premier League is not surprisingly Manchester City, second is Chelsea and third are Arsenal.  Which rather suggests that as a statistic this one is not particularly helpful, especially if we look at the league table…


Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Manchester City 6 6 0 0 16 3 13 18
5 Arsenal 6 4 2 0 11 6 5 14
14 Chelsea 6 1 2 3 5 6 -1 5


The fact is, that where there are numbers one can create statistical analyses, and often these can be very useful.   But not all numbers tell us anything.  Sometimes they are just, well, numbers.

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