A League season review: if but for injury (and bent refs…)

By Walter Broeckx

The PL season is over and no better time to have a look at the numbers.  And see how we did compared to last season.

Let us start with the league position. We finished in 4th and that is the same as the season before. The minimum requirement for Arsenal I think and we did it. With 7 points more than the team in 5th place this is better than last season when Tottenham was hoping for a Newcastle equaliser, which they already celebrated, as we then only had one point more than them.  (I remember it well,  Levy of Tottenham wiped a tear from his eyes – Tony).

We got 79 points this season and last season we only had 73 points. So that is 6 points better than last season. So this is improvement in my book.

Last season we were 16 points behind the league winners. This time we were 7 points behind the champions. So it is fair to say we have closed the gap between ourselves and the winners point wise.

What is amazing is that if we could have turned 3 games more in to wins we would have won  the title. If we had beaten the PGMOL in our match against Aston Villa (Taylor), at WBA(Mason), and Stoke that would have given us 8 more points and the title.  And this shows how every decision from the ref can have a big influence at the end of the season. Even in the matches against the smaller teams.

We won 24 matches and the season before we could only win 21 matches. We lost 7 matches and that is the same number as the season before. So we managed to turn 3 draws into wins more this season. As I pointed out above, do this next season again and we could be in for the title. It once again shows the importance of every match, any time in the season.

When we look at goals scored we see that we have scored 68 goals this season and the season before we scored 72 goals. So that is 4 goals less than the season before. I think a lot of that can be put down to the fact that we missed our top scorer (Walcott) for more than half of the season. And as Theo also usually has a lots of assists behind his name we can guess we also missed goals from that angle.

When you speak about goals scoring this season we have to mention the name of Ramsey. He scored 10 Pl goals from 20 starts. If he had been fit for the matches he was out with an injury it could have made a big difference.

But my general conclusion is that the lower number of goals scored is not because of lack of quality. It is because of lack of fit players. If it wasn’t for the injuries we suffered from players that know how to score (and I count the absence of Podolski in to this) for big parts of the season we would have scored more goals. I think looking at the numbers from Theo over the last seasons, Podolski  and Ramsey we can talk about probably some 15-20 goals we would have scored more if we didn’t had those damned injuries.  I think the current squad has a number of 88 – 90 goals in them. If fit…. damn those injuries.

Goals conceded.

This season we conceded 41 goals and last season we conceded 37 goals. So again a difference of 4 goals. 4 goals more. When we look at the conceded goals we see an amazing contrast. We had 17 clean sheets in total over the season and that will be one of the highest clean sheets from all the clubs in the PL.

We conceded too many goals in 3 matches this season. In the 3 matches against the top 3 teams we conceded 17 goals at their grounds. This was remarkable. Because if we take those goals away we only conceded 24 goals in 35 matches.  If we take these 35 matches we would have a goals conceded ratio of 0.68 goals against us on average per match.  That is the lowest goals against ratio from any team.  The lowest in total is Chelsea with 0.71 goals against on average this season.

So we have to find a solution for those 3 matches and defensively we look very good. Let us hope that the predicted departure from Sagna doesn’t disturb this too much.

It also shows that we know how to defend but somehow got caught early on in the matches against the other top teams. It certainly happened against Chelsea and Liverpool. Against City it was more of being caught in the last minutes in one of the most open games of the season when we handed them 2 goals on a platter at the end.

So work something out for those games and things should be all right.

For me the final report over the league season is a positive one. We have been top of the league for most of the season. And only after the injuries hit us the hardest we have dropped too many points. I know you don’t win a trophy for being top of the league the longest. But it shows that the team when fit is ready to fight for the title.

We have seen the arrival of Özil and he has brought us class and intelligence. We have seen Ramsey becoming the player we hoped and knew he could become before his injury and shaking off all the doubts and proving all the doubters wrong. Dare I to predict that next season we will see Jack Wilshere doing the same? Will next season be the season that he does a Ramsey? Let’s hope so. Giving us another regularly scoring midfielder would be awesome.

We came close and only injuries held us back. Solve this and this team can produce great things. Let us start producing the first bit next Saturday.

Coming soon…

  • Why Liverpool are desperate for Man City to win the fight with Uefa.
The books


41 Replies to “A League season review: if but for injury (and bent refs…)”

  1. Well it’s been that kind of a season… Strange happenings in the buyout clause; loads of money for a bauble and the English Premier League; Referees being called Match Officials oooops Professional Match Officials and delivering the most incompetent display of refereeing ever seen in English football; bearded ladies winning in Europe… well it’s an extended Europe to include parts not geographically connected; players destroyed for a new code of conduct on goal celebration; same sex marriage and equal prize money in tennis but not in snooker, football, swimming, working and many other walks of life…..

    lost planes; floods; abducted kids; tax avoidance; financial fair play on an unfair pitch; blue becoming red and city almost going wild – tiger that is; 25k tickets for a 60k seated club;

    Yep it’s been that kind of a season.

  2. Many readers, especially those that seem to want to argue that we (Untold) are wrong, seem to want answers that are short and avoid numbers. How does one argue without data and explanation? Or, perhaps you like this?

    TL;DR? GT;Tshite

    The EPL has 2 teams which bought their “top” status. One spent enough money to go up about 3 places and the other spent enough to go up about 6 places. Many teams newly promoted to the EPL attempt to buy enough players to not get relegated the next season, it would be interesting to compare how much 3 places at the top compares to the bottom.

    This year, the EPL also had 1 top team which earned its way, and may have found another top team (it was top in the past).

    What I have found, is that in the presence of 2 or 3 top teams since 1970, the most common finishing place for a top team is 2nd, with 1st, 3rd and 4th not far behind. The presence of any finish 5th or higher, makes being a “top” team for that “off” year very unlikely.

    Arsenal is doing what a fair team is allowed to do, and that is to finish at the top, underneath the teams not playing fair. If the FA could resolve the statistical abnormalities in the behavior of officials, and the Premier League could get its own FFP house in order, I would feel fine saying the chances of Arsenal finishing 1st next season is 25% (same as the other 3). As things stand now, I think the best we’ll do is probably 3rd, with 4th again more likely.

    So, no tables. The past few days, you can find a variety of posts of mine, filled with numbers.

    I have another set of numbers. The finishing place of Liverpool from 1971 to 1990 looks fishier than ManU’s finishing under SAF.

    On another thread, I suggested that UEFA line up 10 referees from continental Europe, to be switched with 10 _NORTHERN_ English referees for a season of EPL. I think that the best way to put at least some arguments to rest.

  3. It’s being said that despite injuries and bent referees, the real reason Arsenal failed to win the League was the weakness in attack. The prolonged absence of top scorers Walcott and Ramsey, together with the over-reliance on Giroud, were major reasons for the decline in the New Year.
    If that is the case, then the opportunity to strengthen the number of strikers during the Summer Transfer Window must be taken.

  4. Refs, and injuries, in that order. I can’t wait for the day some geek develops a robot to ref football matches.

  5. @Al,
    Couldn’t agree more. The day will come when, via the wonder of invention, yet to be developed, unbiased control of football contests will be introduced. Not in my lifetime though :).

  6. Here’s a thought use video we don’t need robots unless it’s to invade white hart lane.

  7. There are LOTS of people who think, “You can’t change city hall” (or similar). Brickfields joke about Human Rights also applies here. It is your DUTY to bitch when there are problems.

    How PGMOL operates REQUIRES that it be AUDITABLE! They have made statements about how good their officials are, and independent surveys (hello Walter 🙂 ) show results vastly different from what PGMOL claims.

    If there is a north/south divide in how leagues and officials operate, that has to be eliminated. PGMOL has made no effort to do so. PGMOL has insufficient referees to do its job properly, and they don’t seem to be making any efforts in that regard.

    You have your chance right now. Should Scudamore stay head of the Premier League? Keep you mouth shut and do nothing, and he stays. Enough people complain, he’s out of here. But sexism and racism are the same thing, and there is no room for either.

  8. Here is a running count of how many “top” teams have been in the highest level of English football according to my rules:

    1 2 3 3 2 2 1 1 2 3
    2 3 2 2 2 2 1 1 1 1
    1 0 1 2 3 3 4 4 3 4
    4 3 3 4 4 4 4 4 4 3
    4 4 4

    That first “1”, is the season starting in Aug/Sep 1970.

    Most of the data I used to define “top”, comes from pre-EPL. Occassionally 3 teams, mostly 1 or 2. With Chelsea and ManCity, we have 2 new teams who have bought “top” team standing. If it is possible for money to influence outcomes, it is more likely for the money teams to finish ahead of non-money teams.

    The statistics for ManU under SAF in the EPL look strange. There is marked change between ManU before EPL and since EPL (ignoring this season). The statistics for Aberdeen when SAF was manager, look very similar to any of the “top” team stats in England.

    Liverpool has been a “top” team for much of this period. Many people would divide their being “top” into 3 stretches, I have found I actually need to divide it into 4. In one of the 4 stretches, the statistics for Liverpool look every bit as odd as ManU in the EPL under SAF.

    Has ManU in the EPL under SAF exerted influence that they should not have, on the league? Has Liverpool exerted influence on the league that they should not have? Influence like that, is every bit as (me first) as money.

    What do you the fan want? Do you want teams to have influence they shouldn’t have? Do you want a non-accountable PGMOL? Do you want money teams buying top status?

    If you answered no to any, you need to start making your views known. Repeatedly.

    If Liverpool is as strong next year as this year, I think it is going to be all Arsenal can do to finish 4th again. Not that I think Arsenal can’t beat Liverpool, but Liverpool has built up “karma”, and people may start using that.

    If you want Arsenal to finish 1st next year, all you need to do is give Arsenal more money than ManCity has received. And they need that money before the World Cup ends.

    If you would like a cleaned up league, and can live with Arsenal probably finishing 4th again, you can start something. If you see a FA official, a PGMOL official or a referee, take their picture and note the time and location. If you have time, find out what they were doing. But, making their private lives, very non-private may be the only leverage the public has any more. And this data has to be publicised.

    You see someone getting a brown paper bag, or an envelope from a football team executive, the world needs a picture (date, time, location).

  9. I’m not sure I understand your methodology, Gord….

    Most leagues can support 2 or 2.5 top teams at any one time(much like a Westminster style parliament supports 2.5 parties). That the Premiership has 4 or 5 top teams is an anomoly due to the influence of external money.

  10. The Selection…

    While walking down the street one day, a high ranking politician is tragically hit by a truck and dies. His soul arrives in heaven and is met by St. Peter at the entrance.

    “Welcome to Heaven,” says St. Peter. “Before you settle in, it seems there is a problem. We seldom see a high official around these parts, you see, so we’re not sure what to do with you.”

    “No problem, just let me in.” says the politician .

    “Well, I’d like to but I have orders from higher up. What we’ll do is have you spend one day in Hell and one in Heaven. Then you can choose where to spend eternity.”

    “Really, I’ve made up my mind. I want to be in Heaven,” says the politician.

    “I’m sorry but we have our rules.” And with that, St. Peter escorts the politician to the elevator and he goes down, down, down to Hell. The doors open and he finds himself in the middle of a green golf course. In the distance is a club and standing in front of it are all his friends and other politicians who had worked with him, everyone is very happy and in evening dress.

    They run to greet him, hug him, and reminisce about the good times they had while getting rich at expense of the people. They play a friendly game of golf and then dine on lobster and caviar. Also present is the Devil, who really is a very friendly guy who has a good time dancing and telling jokes.

    They are having such a good time that, before he realizes it, it is time to go. Everyone gives him a big hug and waves while the elevator
    rises. The elevator goes up, up, up and the door reopens on Heaven where St. Peter is waiting for him.

    “Now it’s time to visit Heaven.” So 24 hours pass with the politician head of state joining a group of contented souls moving from cloud to cloud, playing the harp and singing. They have a good time and, before he realizes it, the 24 hours have gone by and St. Peter returns.

    “Well then, you’ve spent a day in Hell and another in Heaven. Now choose your eternity.”

    He reflects for a minute, then the head of state answers: “Well, I would never have thought it, I mean Heaven has been delightful, but I think I would be better off in Hell.”

    So Saint Peter escorts him to the elevator and he goes down, down, down to Hell. Now the doors of the elevator open and he is in the middle of a barren land covered with waste and garbage. He sees all his friends, dressed in rags, picking up the trash and putting it in black bags. The Devil comes over to the politician and lays an arm on his neck.

    “I don’t understand,” stammers the politician. Yesterday I was here and there was a golf course and club and we ate lobster and caviar and danced and had a great time. Now all there is a wasteland full of garbage and my friends look miserable.

    The Devil looks at him, smiles and says, “Yesterday we were campaigning. Today you voted for us!”

  11. A blonde orders a beer.

    The bartender fills the mug and slides it down the bar. It hits the blonde woman’s boobs and splashes all over them. The bartender goes over, retrieves the mug and licks the beer off her boobs.

    Each time the blonde calls for another beer this happens. So after the third beer,a guy decides to help the bartender out. The next time the bartender hit her boobs, the man jumps up and starts to lick her breasts. She decks him!

    He is lying on the floor moaning, ‘Jeez, lady… Why do you let the bartender do it and not me?’

    “Helloooo!”, says the blonde. ‘He has a licker license!’

  12. We were poor against Aston Villa, our defending was woeful but let’s blame the ref for that. As for the Stoke game we were poor there too. Strange you focus on games in which we weren’t very good. The games that cost us I think were Swansea and Manu at home. Two games just begging to be won. Another four points and that’s about what we deserved, 83 pts, which is a very good tally. Some seasons that might win the league.

    The onus should be on injuries, that had much more effect. It’s unlikely that Walcott will ever go through a season without injury but to lose him for half the season was terrible ill luck. And missing Ramsey as the season came to a climax was unfortunate too.

    The team has improved in many ways, the only disappointment is the way we were hammered at City, Chelsea, Liverpool and Everton. Losing those games is always a strong possibility, with the exception of Everton, but to lose them in the way we did was shocking. Strange too, because in other games the defence was often exemplary. Those defeats weren’t accidents and should be studied to locate the issues.

  13. Rupert,
    Great! Totally agree with your summary. I count Everton and Swansea at home as well as Southampton away as unlucky draws; in the later case, a fit Ramsey might have made the difference. Nonetheless, I also firmly hold the referees responsible for our losses to Aston Villa at home and to Stoke away. They could have been draws. As well as the draw to West Bromwich, away.We should have won.
    It is unrealistic to expect that ALL of the above should have come down in our favor – even though the mantra in Untold is that for some teams, these and more happen in their favor.
    I’ll only conclude by saying that the above detail just shows how close we were to winning and how crucial good referees’ decisions are and how important it is that we work had to minimize our injuries and to get versatile covers in all areas on the pitch.
    In view of our newly acquired and growing financial strength and of ManCity’s travails with FFP, the future, I may add, is unfolding more in accordance with Arsenal’s scenario than with any other football club’s in the EPL

  14. While I agree with you about the Stoke game Rupert, you bring up us being poor as if the referee has no impact on that. The Aston Villa game was a farce. You know by now that I don’t care if Arsenal lose. In the sense that I don’t get all hot and bothered. It’s a game and it happens. But I want to see a football match decided by the two teams. Not something resembling football decided by an official. Which is what that Villa game was.

    And the following week, Villa had their freebie 3 points handed over to Chelsea who scored an offside goal by a person who should have been red carded before, and despite a late handball, didn’t get a penalty awarded against them.

  15. Rupert
    I thought there was something really “odd” about the City (6-3) game. I wouldn’t go down the usual “bent ref” road (you know i’m not like that), but two perfectly good goals disallowed, and Milner’s dive for the penalty distorted the result. Having said that you always got the impression that City could score at any time they wanted. Still, it was a strange result, and we were at full strength. It’s true we were poor against Villa, but Taylor was disaster.

  16. The Aston Villa & Stoke games have been discussed many times.

    Basically, when your team is being kicked all round the park, unpunished, while the opposition is being awarded phantom free kicks it is impossible for your team to perform.

  17. What about the non penalty on Jack by Mulumbu? That’s another two points robbed by the ref.

  18. AL

    And the non penalty against ManU and Chelsea. Southampton’s first goal was a foul (and I’m thinking there was something iffy about their second goal too? Can’t remember. Might be wrong there)

    Anyway, all of that has cost us, as have our failings (including in those matches), but I think there is a difference between games like that where the referee influence affects points, and games like Villa, despite the phantom penalty (no matter what Motd said). I don’t consider that football at all because it wasn’t one poor decision which went against Arsenal. That entire match was refereed against Arsenal. Simple. The motivation doesn’t matter but there is no way that was fairly refereed. It was reminiscent of the Newcastle game and Phil Dowd.

  19. And even the United match Rupert mentions as a game begging to be won, Giroud was shoved to the ground by Vidic and nothing given. But we know we can’t get these decisions all the time so we will leave that one out, but had it been the other way round you can bet utd would’ve got the penalty.

  20. Ah Shard, seems we were thinking the same thing 🙂 As you point out, not only did we not get the decisions we should have got, but we were also penalised for decisions which other teams normally get let off with(or wrong decisions against us, like the Southampton goals). So it’s a double negative if you like; you don’t get calls you should get, then get penalised for phantom fouls.

  21. Also about the ManU game, does anyone else think that those were one of the few games they were actually up for?

    ManU aren’t a bad side. They have some excellent players. They clearly gave up playing for their manager a few games into the season. They even stopped attempting their dives once they realised it wasn’t happening for them this season. But against us, they really seemed up for it. Whether it is to do with RVP, or with the old rivalry still being ingrained in the players’ mind, or both, I don’t think ManU played us with the same ttitude they showed against most other clubs. Which makes a difference.

    All the same, we were unlucky to not beat them. We first played them at the end of a long tough run when our players were struck by the flu, and only lost to a lucky goal off RVP’s shoulder. We next played them after confidence had been dented by the shambles at Anfield (and should have had a penalty)

    It’s frustrating to not have beaten them, but I don’t see it as a disaster or a bad performance from us.

  22. @GoingGoingGooner

    The only methodology I am applying, is how I defined top team. Do you have any kind fo reference on this parliament similarity?

    As that little chart shows, for most of the lifetime of the EPL, there has been 4 top teams. A top team that finished outside the top-4 can be expected to get back there (the run of top finishes probably ends, but that is a detail). Once top teams are in the top-4 (assuming 4 or less), the dynamics of determining who finishes first can change. If money can influence finish, it probably will try to. If exerting other influences can change finish, some teams may attempt that route.

    Arsenal can always get lucky at this point and finish above 4th, but a team fighting fair against 3 teams who probably won’t fight fair doesn’t give me a warm, fuzzy feeling that the probability of finishing first is 25%.

    And this morning, Leicester announces that they are going to buy their way into a top position. Will the new AV owner as well?

  23. @Jax, ref incompetence is quite common. That City game is a case in point, but, as you say, City looked like they could score at will and I doubt anything would have denied them a win that day. We were a shambles defensively against Villa and even with a more balanced ref I doubt we’d have got more than a draw. People forget that that Villa side also beat City so they were capable of shocking the better teams.

    Certainly Manu were up for the game at the Ems and we looked terrifying of losing. Even if we’d got that penalty I wouldn’t have expected us to hold on to win, we just looked too nervous.

  24. bjtgooner

    As you specifically mentioned the Aston villa and Stoke games with regards to the Refereeing performance, I’ll throw in my 2 pence regarding my hobby horse, the media. More specifically Radio 5 live.

    In the Aston Villa game both Hartson and the commentator LAUGHED at the fact Villa where “being clever” and “taking it in turns’ fouling us in order to escape cards. They actually thought it was funny.

    During the post match summery the reporter said: “Arsene Wenger was going mad about the penalty, and to be fair he had a point (and then while giggling) but if you play like Arsenal did then you deserve it”

    So giving pathetic penalties against us is not only okay, but funny.

    Most of you know this already but:


  25. @jambug

    Thanks for that additional information, I had forgotten the ghastly commentary, but not the equally ghastly refereeing.

    I mentioned those two matches because the BBCC (boring boring corrosive cook) had chosen to attack the way the team played in those matches without considering the difficulties the guys faced from biased refereeing.

    Now that he has been called out on his comment by a number of posters he has gone on to attack the performances against the Oilers and Manures. There were extenuating circumstances in both of those games, some of which involved the officials, but as usual ignored by his propaganda machine.

  26. I seen some unwanted news just now, about the FA cup. Apparently Leona Lewis is going to be singing at the game.

  27. And apparently she is a Gooner. Does that mean I have to like her singing?

  28. bjtgooner

    Just sticking to these 2 specific games I know we didn’t play great.

    But that’s not the point. It’s in games like that, that a fair, unbiased referee can make all the difference.

    How many times did Utd play bad and get a result. Many times.

    But why?

    Well ask yourself this, how many times during those games was a sure fire penalty not given against them, or indeed a dodgy one given for them?

    How many times did it just get ‘fudged off’ as, ‘that’s what makes Champions’.

    And they are right, but not in the way they mean.

    Every team has bad days and it’s on those days Referees make the difference.

    In Uniteds case they got those dodgy decisions in there favour.

    In Arsenals case they tend to go against us.

  29. That is part of the “influence” that teams receive. Is this influence pushed by the team receiving it, is it pulled by Mike Riley and PGMOL 😈 or is it some (possibly subconcious) act of discrimination such as north/south bias?

  30. think you have nailed it here Walter. encouraged by the fact that Taylor has not refereed us since that performance of his. cannot be a coincidence, either the club are finally fighting back and have had words, or the PGMOL saw that for what it was, not that i am expecting favours from that lot of course.
    We have retained most of our key players who will be even better, a bit of strengthening, more goals, and as you say,if we can sort out the injuries to some degree, a bit more rotation we will improve further next season that will put us on a points level that means we will be seriously challenging for the title. We are one of the best flat track bullies, lets improve against the big boys, especially away….by whatever means required. Those big defeats hurt us in many ways, and uplifted opponents, a double hit… it is serious time they were stopped. lesser teams that us realised Chelsea cannot cope if you play them at their own tactics, lets park the bus sometimes if we really have to, as we can do in Germany but seem loath to do here.
    one other thing I will add, lets FFS win our CL group this time and avoid one of the top teams that ever existed in the first knockout round…just for once!
    Good to see Wenger has seen off yet another Spurs manager…..have lost count!

  31. It was on the 31st August 2013 that I stood outside the new Arsenal stadium talking to one or two tearful passers bye.

    These people had been misinformed, by those who say they know about football. They had been told by spokespersons for the Arsenal fans (who like to write for newspapers owned by Russian oligarchs) that “the Arsenal board were the worst in football”*, because that lot from Tottenham had just spent some farking money. Never mind what it was spent on, the important thing is they were spending lots of Wonga(as more and more people in the UK fell into debt peonage).

    And here we are, one week from the end of the season. Arsenal competed, they signed Mesut ****ing Ozil, are in the cup final, and Tottenham have just sacked their second manager of the season (Tim Sherwood is a gooner!).
    My reply at the time to those stood on the concourse that I was speaking with after the Villa game on the 31st August was that “if you are not prepared to moan about blatently corrupt refs like Taylor, as we had just witnessed, then there’s no point in moaning about transfers because you are not going to be allowed to win any league with obviously dodgy referee ‘performances’ (Taylor is a novice compared to Deano) like that!”

    *And this is why, considering the competition (Newcastle for starters?), most of us with two (football) braincells to rub together can spot the lame PR of an attempt at a Hostile corporate takeover, which might also explain why the Untold website has been attacked, though their are also other possiblities.

  32. Shame about agent Sherwood, not treated very well, Levy apparently not even mention him in the programme notes for their last game.
    still, he can move on, get another job and just be what he is, as you say, a Gooner. Might even see him on here.

  33. @ Gord

    Not trying to nitpick just don’t understand fully what you are saying.

    My point is that most leagues have a couple of teams, and at times three teams, that stay at the top. Other teams have good seasons and poor seasons and bob up and down the table. In the Premiership there are Man United, Man City, Chelsea, Arsenal and arguably Liverpool that have stayed at the top (though Liverpool has been a bit down the table after the Hicks/Gilette debacle until this year)Tottenham and Everton have also done well but only rarely have reached 4th. My definition of a top team is one that is always at or near the top. Newcastle or Blackburn do not qualify because of occasional successes, either.

  34. Mandy
    Hopefully Tim will get a new position before next season starts. Can’t really say he’s premiership type manager though is he, more Div 1 or Championship. Really likeable guy though and so honest.

  35. I think the least Sherwood did was show he is worth a go in the hot seat.

    If not at the top then in the Championship.

    I mean, he got more out of that lazy chump Ade than anyone since Wenger.

    Passion passion and then a bit more passion, allied to the knowledge he has picked up working in the PL should stand him in good stead at that level, then who knows.

    I hope so anyway as he came across as a decent guy.

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