- West Ham United 0 Arsenal 6: what does this tell us about where Arsenal is going?
- West Ham v Arsenal – Trossard’s astounding record, the scandal and the team
By Tony Attwood
I can’t answer the question in the headline completely since the official league page covering statistics, isn’t listing fouls per club although it lists pretty much everything else. Now why is that?
But according to the figures in the Guardian – which I think come from official sources, West Ham produced 17 fouls in this weekend’s match against Arsenal. Their average for the season is 10.8 fouls per game. That puts them very roughy midtable when it comes to fouling. 17 puts the beyond the orbit of Pluto.
Which makes it rather alarming that West Ham could, according to these figures from the Guardian, which as I understand it are taken from official Premier League data supplied just to journalists, up their fouling rate so dramatically.
Now I have thought for some time that some clubs do go into matches with a deliberate policy of fouling the opposition and they do adopt this tactic just occasionally in specific games to avoid being reprimanded by the League. But this appears to be a level of response within a match, which is quite extraordinary.
What’s more according to WhoScored Arsenal are fouled on average 10.8 times a game – so this was way up for Arsenal on the receiving end, too.
But there is another comment that is also worrying – one that suggests that Arsenal actually didn’t play very well at all. It comes in the Guardian and says, “It will be tempting to describe West Ham’s performance as wretched, dreadful, slack, an abdication of professional responsibility because it was all of these things. But this is also to dignify it with a shape and a recognisable set of flaws. This was instead something else, an absence, a West Ham-shaped hole.”
So Arsenal not that good then, it was just WHAM didn’t turn up. OK, that’s an argument, but it would be good then to see this expanded into a debate on “why?”
Before this game, West Ham had conceded 36 goals in 24 league games – which rather obviously is 1.5 goals a game. Why on this occasion did that figure leap up to six goals in a game? My reaction would be say it was because Arsenal were so good, but the media won’t have any of that. The Guardian puts the whole reason for the result on West Ham.
To me that looks and seems ludicrous, but for all the usual sillyness that one expects in such reports there is an interesting coda. In the final three paragraphs the article says that what might just carry Arsenal forward is its combination of “energy, will, and youth.” On that they could be right – although I’d add “overseen by Arteta and the team”.
To overcome other teams, the article argues, Arsenal “need to make noise, to be disruptive, to be as relentless as they were against Liverpool, to be hungrier, wilder, more tightly bonded” than the opposition.
The piece continues, “It is also why Arsenal will celebrate, will seek to create their own internal story, to be wilder, more intense. “It’s a tactic, a vibe, an attempt to write a success narrative…..
“It might come unstuck in the end. But here they replicated that same collective energy on the pitch, and reduced West Ham to a team playing a half‑remembered version of their own game.”
I really despair about most of that article, such as the comment (seemingly almost obligatory in all articles on Arsenal) that Arsenal are “still looking like a team that probably could do with a proper centre‑forward.” I mean, having just won 0-6 and just two goals behind the media’s beloved Liverpool… really? Do Liverpool need one as well, in that case?
Of course this was just a couple of days after the in-studio TV football commentators were saying,
“Just get down the tunnel. You’ve won a game, three points, you’ve been brilliant. Back in the title race, get down the tunnel. I’m serious, honestly… “By all means enjoy it, but enjoy it by being disciplined!”
We have for a long time been very fed up with the Discipline Police approach that Sky and some other broadcasters adopt in which they take the view that they alone know how people should behave.
Indeed it is a sad fact that within a lot of British journalism, the constant undertone is, “we know how you should behave, and we are watching you.”
So it was great to see Arsenal being able to call that out, and for quite a few other people to turn on Sky and people like Nevillie and Carragher who have for far too long set themselves up as the absolute arbiters of what is and what is not acceptable in football, and indeed of how anything in football can be analysed and perceived.
Their view is that football only exists in the way in which they interpret it. I think that’s wrong, but if they insist on that, then it is equally true that Sky’s football coverage only exists in the way I interpret their coverage, and I think it’s crap. Which is not a very intellectually rigorous comment – but neither were the comments made by the Sky people.
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