Was Sunday’s 0-0 draw a bad advert for PL “Soccer” in America?


By Nitram

That is a question I’ve seen banded about in the media, and on social platforms ever since the final whistle blew on Sunday. And I suppose it’s a fair question, and part of the reason it’s being asked is because this particular match set a new NBC audience record of 2.12 Million. Of all the days for a 0-0 bore fest!!!

But was it really a bad advertisement for the Premier League, or for ‘soccer’ in general?  Personally I don’t think it was. I think it was just a brilliant example of what makes ‘soccer’ the most amazing and unique game that it is.

Now following a 0-0 draw that may seem a bit of an odd thing to say, but as I say, I don’t think it is, and this is the for why.

The fact is goals have ALWAYS been at a premium in football. Scoring a goal in football is not easy. In this sense football is unique. There is no other sport where the prime objective is so difficult. Some are, in my humble opinion ridiculous. Basketball for one: a game in which scoring is EXPECTED every time you have the ball. I do not wish to upset the many millions that love the sport, but nonetheless, that is a reality of that particular sport.

But it is the unique difficulty of scoring a goal in football that makes it the game we all love so much. It is why us fans celebrate almost every goal as if it’s the first last and only goal our team will ever score. As we know, players and managers are often as not, just as exuberant in their celebrations.

Even now, after watching football for over half a century I still find the scoring of a goal euphoric, and the concession of a goal as painful as tooth extraction.

Of course as fans, we all love coming out on top of a 5 goal thriller, but the fact is, as much as the average goals per game has ‘rocketed’ this season, games such as that are very rare. And even though the GPG has indeed ‘rocketed’, it is still only 3.25 per game, up from what has been a fairly steady 2.5 per game.

So that means the average game has gone from just under 2-1 per game to just under 2-2 per game So even with the likes of Arsenal smashing in over 30 goals in 8 games, goals in football are in reality incredibly hard to come by.

So my point is, teams not scoring will happen. 0-0’s will happen. As much as us fans love a goal fest, most, and I mean most, coaches get just as much joy from STOPPING the opposition from scoring a goal as they do from their team scoring a goal. Not conceding is as much a part of the game of ‘soccer’ as scoring is, so IF Americans are eventually going to fall in love with ‘soccer’ as much as the rest of the World, they need to get used to it.

Now, I understand that goalless draws such as Sundays can be dull, especially for the neutrals, it was nevertheless a vivid reminder of just how incredibly difficult scoring a goal can be. And it is that degree of difficulty that in turn feeds directly into the absolutely euphoric emotions we feel when a goal is scored. Without that degree of difficulty that euphoria would not exist.

Maybe sometimes we need these reality checks such as we witnessed on Sunday to highlight just how incredibly difficult scoring a goal is in football, and equally to remind us of the unique nature of the game we love so much.

As for how the American audience and commentators react to such matches I don’t know. Maybe they are whinging and whining like our lot. But one thing’s for sure, if they are going to truly embrace ‘soccer’ then they will have to learn that the art of stopping the other team scoring is just as important as the art of actually scoring yourself.

If they really can embrace that, then they too will feel the euphoria of scoring a goal the way I still do after 50 plus years.

Football, or ‘Soccer’ is unique, and love em or hate em, goalless draws are part of that uniqueness.

15 Replies to “Was Sunday’s 0-0 draw a bad advert for PL “Soccer” in America?”

  1. Nitram, I agree. Also, in my view, Sunday’s game was anything but dull, as a crucial contest between two highly skilful teams. Our recent 4, 5 and 6 goal displays may have led to false expectation by some people, but that was never going to happen against Man CIty.

    Noted also that some journalists have criticised Arsenal for being negative (defensively superb not palatable to them as it does not fit their prejudice) – no doubt the same lot who had been predicting that we would be hammered by MC, so were sick as parrots when it didn’t happen. When other teams have defended resolutely against Arsenal, have they been criticised? No, they are doing a good job and its Arsenal’s fault for not being able to break down defensive barriers, ( perhaps by not having signed any number of “top” strikers lacking from our team.)

    Not so long ago, they were regurgitating the rubbish about our weak defence (even when Adams, Keown et al still played for us) so whetever Arsenal do will be criticised.

    Finally. if our game is not popular in USA, do we care?

  2. commentator on TNT sport for yesterday’s game said the draw with City was an achievement.

    Also mentioned how we snatched a last min win last time we played Luton away and celebrated and pointed out that scoring a last min win should be celebrated.

  3. Nitram,

    thanks for putting in words why I love football…. and love ice hockey – because of the scoring of a goal.
    Could not have expressed it better then you.
    This is a love statement I wish I could have written.

  4. John L

    “… in my view, Sunday’s game was anything but dull”

    I agree. I was climbing the walls the entire game. I doubt my heart rate dropped bellow 120 throughout. But, I can understand the neutral feeling a bit disappointed given the offensive qualities of the 2 sides. Part of the disappointment is really down to what they saw compared to what they had ‘expected’ to see. On the other hand, anyone who enjoys watching a tactical masterclass would of loved it.


    Thank you so much for those lovely words.

    I forgot Ice Hockey. Indeed another game where scoring is at a premium, although that too is increasing by all accounts and from what I see stands at around 6 goals per game. As well as that, I believe Ice Hockey is generally seen as one of the hardest games in the World to play, sitting 2nd in the table I saw, behind boxing.

    I digress here, but how much credibility I put in the table I saw is I’m not sure as it had American football in 3rd, and ‘soccer’ in tenth.

    Now I’m not saying Grid Iron isn’t physically demanding but surely the fact every different ‘skill set’ is played by a someone dedicated to that one discipline drastically diminishes the overall ‘difficulty’ of the sport, especially when Rugby, a sport as physically demanding, without the padding, and requires at least some level of skill across all the disciplines within the sport, sits in 13th?

    Back on point, I’ve always wanted to go to an Ice Hockey match, especially to sit at the front. It is supposed to be an experience you will never forget.

  5. Nitram,
    Absolutely great! As Chris says, couldn’t be said better!
    I spoke with friends who are neutrals and long time football fans. Both thought it a very tactical match. I agree. Both sides were primarily trying to stop the other from scoring.When two teams at the top of the table are working that hard it’s far from boring. No one scored because both sides were that good. I was glad I didn’t have a heart monitor on the premises, lol. They got a point in a very tough environment. Clean sheet. Followed that with another clean sheet and 3 points at home 3 days later.
    The television ratings and viewership for Sunday’s match was over 2 million and set a record for a PL match in America.
    In fact, the top 3 highest viewed PL matches ever are all Arsenal matches.

  6. Notram,

    just ask and come over next year around march…. apart from that, I did forget rugby, the 6 Nations, the down-under rivalries, etc…

    American football, which I enjoy a lot as a lifelong Green Bay Packers (the only fan owned NFL club) fan, is completely different. It is 80 minutes of sequences from a few seconds to 15 or 20. So there is a ‘reset’ between each. It does not have the ‘flow’.

  7. goonersince72

    Thank you too.

    “In fact, the top 3 highest viewed PL matches ever are all Arsenal matches.”

    Yes I read that. The 2-2 at Anfield and against Man Utd last year..

    I’m really hoping the Kronkes can capitalise on this because as I have said before I do feel it is our commercial side that has been a little, say we say ‘slow’ over the years, and we really need to get our arses in gear. To be fair they are not helped by our lack of Champions League success. It seems this is crucial for mustering up the really big numbers around the World.

    Personally I think Arsenal sit on the precipice of an explosion of Global popularity. We have the manager and the team. A team of youngsters such as Saka, Martinelli, Saliba, etc. who are poised to be the new generation of Global superstars. We already have bonified World class performers such as Odegaard and Rice. All we need now is a Champions League triumph to push us over the line, and our club could start to rival the Man Utds, Liverpools and Barcelonas of this World in the Global popularity stakes. I feel we are that close.


    That is very kind of you and if this old ticker of mine is still going you never know!

    As for American football, I have never really got ‘in to it’. Same with baseball. Actually, unlike a lot of people who get put off by the stop start nature of them, that never really bothers me. I mean I love Test cricket, and that was even when Geoff Boycott played. If you remember that era Chris you’ll understand my tolerance of watching a sport where nothing actually happens, often for days at a time!!!

    So no, it’s not that. I think it’s 2 or 3 other things.

    1: I don’t have a ‘team’. As such I have no emotional ‘investment’. Not in the team. Not in a player. Not in who wins or loses. I think they are crucial to really ‘get into’ a sport.

    2: Either through stupidity or just plain laziness, I haven’t really got a grasp of the rules. The basics yes, but the nuances. no.

    3: I haven’t got a clue about tactics.

    Obviously I know the primary objective is to score, but 2 and 3 mean I have no idea of actually ‘what’s going on’. I cant really see which team, what players, are having a ‘blinder’ and which are having a ‘mare’. As I say, all that means I just cant get into it.

    I should probably just try harder.

  8. Nitram,

    let’s just say that american football is way more scripted then football, that ‘moves’ are built banking on a player doing a run in 2.4 and not 2.6 seconds, that throws aim for the left or right shoulder of a receiver who is running on the left sideline because the defender is on his let and will be in the place the catch the ball in 2 seconds – said ball being thrown 20 yards ahead of him to compensate… I mean… clockwork stuff.

    And here I am just describing one little thing.

    Thing is, stuff I knew from decades back in the NFL is starting to appear in footbal. There was a description of Odegaard and his passing, that explained how that pass was done to the exterior, or the left foot, etc etc because it would then allow a flowing movement. Or Mr Jovic with his set pieces work.

    Anyway, once you know a little more, it is a fascinating spectacle. Go look on Youtube for Aaron Rodgers’ (from the Green Bay Packers) top passes and just think of the actual throwing into the void he is capable of doing like no other.

  9. It seems we are not the only ones to see our excellent 0-0 at Man City as something to savour:

    𝐃𝐚𝐯𝐢𝐝 𝐌𝐨𝐲𝐞𝐬 𝐨𝐧 𝐂𝐡𝐞𝐥𝐬𝐞𝐚 𝟒-𝟑 𝐌𝐚𝐧 𝐔𝐧𝐢𝐭𝐞𝐝 𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐩𝐚𝐫𝐞𝐝 𝐭𝐨 𝐌𝐚𝐧 𝐂𝐢𝐭𝐲 𝟎-𝟎 𝐀𝐫𝐬𝐞𝐧𝐚𝐥:

    “Like always I think all games are entertaining and exciting in the Premier League. You’ve got to be careful from what you see. I think probably for broadcasters like yourself to see goals is exciting.

    “I’ve got to say the Arsenal – Man City game was brilliant. It was 0-0. Well constructed defensively and organised. It depends how you look at football in different ways.

    “One thing I will say is if football is played in one way and one style then it would be boring. It’s really important that we are able to see diverse styles and diverse ways managers choose to play.”

    Well said David Moyes

  10. Chris

    “Anyway, once you know a little more, it is a fascinating spectacle”

    That’s the thing, I DO find it fascinating. Which is why I cant resist dipping into the Monday Night Football show that we get here. It does ‘fascinate’ me. But due to reasons outlined above, I just don’t get drawn in because I don’t, for want of a better word ‘care’ who scores, wins or loses and I think you really need that emotional attachment to get truly involved?

    But, irrespective of that of course I can appreciate the genius of a pitcher who can hit, as you say, an often pre designated cubic square foot of space from what, 50 to 100 metres, at the same time a ‘receiver’ arrives at that exact same cubic foot. Incredible stuff.

  11. Get to know the Green Bay Packers then. The only fan owned team of the NFL (shares only sold to people from the area…).

    The mythical team in the NFL, GreenBay is called Titletown. Anyway.

  12. Chris

    “There was a description of Odegaard and his passing, that explained how that pass was done to the exterior, or the left foot, etc etc because it would then allow a flowing movement”

    To be fair I think that ‘skill set’ has been in football from whence it began, but to do it to the level of say Odegaard is rare, which is why players such as he are so treasured, and valuable, within the game. As luck would have it we had one of the best ever exponents of that particular art, (which if we are going to be basic about this is ‘passing’), playing for us in the shape of one Dennis Bergkamp.

    It’s fascinating you bring that up because I think you have indeed highlighted the fundamental difference between American football and Soccer.

    One is fundamentally scripted and one is fundamentally Ad Lib’d, although of course there is a degree of ad lib in Grid Iron as there is a degree of scripting in football, but you get my point.

    Passing is the perfect example of this fundamental difference.

    It is indeed ‘genius’ to pull a ‘play’ off to perfection, that was designed on a chalk board, practiced in training, and implemented to perfection in a match.

    But it is equally genius that Bergkamp or Odegaard can, in the heat of battle, surrounded by 3 defenders, hear a call, see a run, or even know instinctively where a player is, and then play off pat, a perfectly weighted ball into the exact space the player is running towards.

    In both cases vision, timing, direction, and weight of pass are all crucial.

    There are of course 2 basic differences.

    One is done from hand to hand, one from foot to foot.

    But I think this is the big difference.

    The really impressive ‘passes’ that lead to a Touch Down tend to be over long distances. 50 Meters plus. Not always but by and large. Where as in ‘soccer’ often as not the really impressive passes are the perfectly weighted 5 to 10 yard ones, in and around a crowded penalty box, that nobody else even saw was on. Completely different to each other but both take amazing levels of skill.

    Which is why in both in Grid Iron and Football, the perfect pass followed by the perfect finish is the pinnacle of the sport.

  13. @Nitram,

    don’t be mistaken, scripted plays often do not happen as scripted because….there is an oppostion !
    So we see often quarterbacks improvising. And there, if the quarterback is Aaron Rodgers, or was Tom Brady or other talented ones, we see Odegaard or Bergkamp level improvising and those moments are just as great.

    Added to that, at least watching an NFL game enables you to go to the toilet or the fridge. Not like football….a guy I know was watching Germany-Brasil in 2014, at 2-0 he went to the toilet and came back it was 5-0….talk about being in the Twilight Zone… ;=))

  14. Chris

    I think that’s my point. If you don’t ’understand’ the game, like me, you don’t see that, and as such, enjoy/get involved as much. That doesn’t mean of course that it isn’t in fact as enjoyable. As I say, must try harder.

  15. I thought it was an enthralling match between two teams that didn’t want to concede a goal, and although it didn’t provide any goals, I was glued to the TV for 100 minutes, and enjoyed the tactical battle.

    At least 95% of the UK punditry/press kindergarten crowd were upset with Arsenal and threw their toys out of prams. How dare they shut out one of the media darlings with their tactical masterclass.

    I am convinced that goals are the only aspect of professional football that the trough-feeders have any grasp of, although only in a very limited sense.

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