“The more I talk, the less I inform you.” Arsenal v Stoke: being there with the dogs

By Tony Attwood

Do the press read Untold?

There was this in Untold as part of our Sunday morning preview…

If you look at any commentaries they will tell you that this is our worst start since 1994/5.  Which it may be in terms of points, but consider this table from 1997/8

    P W D L F A G.D. Pts
1 Manchester United 21 14 4 3 49 16 +33 46
2 Blackburn Rovers 21 11 8 2 38 21 +17 41
3 Chelsea 21 12 3 6 46 21 +25 39
4 Liverpool 20 11 4 5 36 19 +17 37
5 Leeds United 21 10 5 6 30 23 +7 35
6 Arsenal 20 9 7 4 35 23 +12 34

Not very exciting reading.

And now the current one

    P W D L F A G.D. Pts
1 Chelsea 21 15 4 2 46 19 +27 49
2 Manchester City 21 14 5 2 45 20 +25 47
3 Manchester United 20 10 7 3 34 20 +14 37
4 Southampton 20 11 3 6 34 15 +19 36
5 Tottenham Hotspur 21 10 4 7 30 29 +1 34
6 Arsenal 20 9 6 5 34 25 +9 33

The difference between the two tables for Arsenal is one of the draws has turned into a defeat, one less goal scored, two more goals let in.

So yes it is worse by a point and a couple of goals.

Now, try this from the Independent after the match.

The win moves Arsenal back up to fifth ahead of Tottenham Hotspur. Wenger’s side are only a point short of their total at the same stage in 1997-1998, when they came from fifth place and 12 points behind Manchester United after 21 games to win the league.

I think that point above was about the fifth time we’ve compared this season to the Second Double season so it took them a while to catch on.  But nice to know someone is reading after all.

Meanwhile sometimes when I go to a game and then watch it on TV I wonder if it was the same match.  Yes, the ball moves about in the same way, the score is the same, but on TV everything is filtered.

Of course sometimes I have wondered, when the TV and the press all present an utterly different image of a match from that which I have seen, if it is me that is getting it wrong.  But then I talk with my friends who were also there but in different parts of the ground, and find that they too saw a quite different match from that on TV.

Partly it is to do with what is defined as important.  Going to football matches is for most of us a social affair, an escape from work and the responsibilities of everyday life.   Maybe that’s why, when the announcer at Stadium Wenger said that all trains out of Euston were cancelled and the only way to get to the West Midlands was a convoluted route via Derby there was laughter.

Then a roar went up, and within seconds we had “3-0 and there’s no way home” sung over and over.  Oh how we chuckled.  It had nothing to do with football; it had everything to do with being there.

Theo Walcott missed a great opportunity by shooting too early, and we had a song about how Thierry Henry, sitting there with his mate Robert, would have scored that.  Quickly followed by the singing of Theo’s name.  Just to show him it was a joke.

Then we had the push in the back that led to Debuchy’s injury.  Barely a mention on TV.  It looked awful and obvious and the consequence was clear to those of us there.  Even the press this morning seem to recognise that Arnautovic deliberately and nastily pushed Debuchy.  In response the always appalling Hughes said there was “no malice” in the action Arnautovic.

Thankfully I can’t read the minds of Stoke players, but it was a foul with awful consequences, and the ref just shrugged.  Or I think he did.  Or maybe he just wobbled.

And there was the bizarre affair with the Stoke defence refusing to go back to the 10 yards that the ref pointed so, so the ref gave up and drew the line in front of them.  Which they then stepped over.

That last was certainly worthy of consideration, rather than the wry chuckle I heard from the commentators on the 10pm showing of the match on Sky.  For it showed the power of the Stoke system – if everyone breaks a rule, the weak-willed lilly-livered refs that we have now will not book them all, but simply cave in.   The use of the vanishing marker itself vanished yesterday and I expect the other non-footballing teams will copy the approach, just like they all copied Bolton’s rotational fouling.

I think we’ll call this one, the Mass Stepover.  Remember you read it here first.

Of course there is more still.  The Ooooooooooooospina shout and “He wants his own song” for Laurent Koscielny, both promoted on Untold, are now well established and simple though they are, give amusement.  (I remember three of us trying to get the “wants his own song” song going at the Cup Final in May without success.  But now it has spread.

The TV men incidentally seemed to take an age to understand that it was Kos who put the pass to the wing, before turning and running to the centre to take the lob into the middle and head the ball into the net.  Next week’s he’ll play in the pass as well.

And there’s always the half time chaos.  I queued for my coffee, and after 10 minutes got to the front.  “Cappuccino,” said I, and the assistant turned away, sauntered down the bar, found a supervisor and asked if they sold cappuccino.  “Yes,” replied the boss, and explained it was a coffee, and there was a button on the machine.

The assistant then came back and checked his notes before announcing it was £2.20 (which I could have told him since it was there on the, err, price list) and took my money and gave me my change.

He turned away to get it, and then a minute later turned back and told me that they had run out of cappuccino.  I ordered a white coffee, and got back to my seat just as the second half was kicking off.

What is so bizarre about this continuing saga that has now been going on for 3 years, is that if the staff were trained, they were sell more stuff by dealing with customers quicker, so the food and drink franchise would be more profitable.  Odd that.

And speaking of seats Blacksheep tells me that this week everyone in the lower tier was allowed to stand.  Against Hull everyone had to sit.  Why does it change match by match?  Blacksheep says the BBC require people to sit for the funny faces at football shots that they like to do.  Really?  Is it that?  I think we should be told.

So Sánchez has 18 goals thus far.   Santi Cazorla looked fabulous. Mesut Özil got huge support as he came on, the press invented another “Szczesny is furious” story and Mr Wenger came out with another classic, which we heard just before the game: “The more I talk, the less I inform you.”

I’d also mention Tomas Rosicky, looking like a new signing and Francis Coquelin who really is coming of age.  Was it chance that brought him back to us, or was it always planned?  (Incidentally that is two new defenders this season, in effect, in addition to the actual signings.  Bellerin and Coquelin.  Clever that.)

Meanwhile elsewhere in the Independent we have this…

“The Stokeaphobia which grips the Emirates found its release on this occasion with a victory that expressed the gulf between the two teams.”

I checked with Dr Billy the Dog McGuire, senior psychologist at the University Hospittal of the North Circular Road, and he confirmed that a phobia is usually defined as a persistent fear of an object or situation.  There is no fear of Stoke at Stadium Wenger.  Just the same sort of dislike that you used to be able to get when walking along the pavement and treading in the deposit of a dog.


Classic Untold (today’s classics come from the start of  this season)

How to win the premier league

Is trading in teenagers the new solution to FFP problems


Want to make a comment?  Have a look at the rules.

60 Replies to ““The more I talk, the less I inform you.” Arsenal v Stoke: being there with the dogs”

  1. Tony,
    You and catering at the Ems simply do not get on.
    I wonder whether Untold should start a campaign for your own cappuccino machine….or at least a flask.

  2. It was never a phobia – we were just waiting when the team themselves said ‘enough is enough ‘ and kicked their arses ! And very well kicked too , and in our own unique style ! Ditto for AW – he slays them with class and panache .

    Decency never goes out of style. Kindness is always cool. Helpfulness is still hip.
    Robin Sharma .

  3. Tony, on Talksport this morning our most loyal supporter John Cross mentioned an altercation between Giroud and Shawcross which may result in retrospective action from the FA on Olivier. I must have missed it and have not seen it mentioned elsewhere, can you or anyone else throw any light on it.

  4. I think Coquelin has gotten in front of Flamini. I hope Arteta comes back this week, so they can play together at City. I thought Coquelin’s contract expires in June, may be he should be signed on.

  5. At the bit of the counter where I was in the food and drinks queue, Tony, there was even an unstaffed till. There’s no excuse for that. I missed the start of the second half just queueing for a hot chocolate.

    You’re right about the inconsistency about standing. When I was at the Hull cup match the stewards kept telling three enthusiastic young men to sit down. Yesterday everybody stood throughout the match. Both times I was in the lower tier, so it certainly is odd.

    You give a good impression of the atmosphere at the match, which was terrific, as was the play of our team.

    That is amazing about the line and the free kick. How do they get off with it? Pathetic refereeing.

  6. Of course’ there was no malice’ in Arnautovic shove on Debuchy ,but that’s only according to Stoke rules of conduct. Is there more dispicable organization in all of football at this moment? I can’t think of one.

    Normally I would get on Arsene Wenger’s case for not highlighting the push on Debuchy and calling it “Dirty play” , but there is no upside to it.
    All he would accomplish by it , would be the extra presure on Arsenal players and ridicule next time we play Stoke away.

    Here’s a club in no danger of relegation nor a chance to make Europe ,and the only reason for any excitement for their fan base is getting one of the big team’s scalp and Arsenal’s in particular.

    There was a Stoke crowd reaction I thought summed up their mentality quite well. Some of the Stoke fans with the front row view to Charlie Adam’s MMA style choke hold tackle on Alexis , put their hands to their wide open mouths and pointing fingers to Arsenal player , began to laugh.

    That really says it all.

  7. I commented yesterday, on a different thread, that moss was very weak and didn’t seem able to exert any sort of control, and specifically mentioned that the wall before our free kick seemed like just 5 yards from the ball. And you just confirmed what I thought I saw. Shocking.

  8. Not surprised that nonsense is coming from Talkshite. If anyone is going to talk about Giroud getting punished for an altercation with a known thug, and not mention punishing the other thug that deliberately hurt Debuchy, they’d be absolutely out of their mind.

  9. I have a phobia about PGMO officials who allow Stoke players to behave in the way they always do.

    Sadly, because it suits the media agenda to conspire with the PGMO over this, the real truth stays hidden from the general public and we retain the reputation of being a soft team with whinging fans.

    All hell would have broken loose if any of Fergie’s teams had been on the end of even 45 minutes of such disgarceful refereeing ineptitude. Nonethelss, it’s fine for us to suffer such detriment on a weekly basis.

  10. Interesting, just read a rival blog- no need to name them! The main author is really laying into Moss and refereeing in general in this country, as well as the way the pgmol is run. Could almost be something out of Untold!
    If this site, which seems to blame all the worlds evils on our manager has finally woken up to what our countries refs are, there is hope yet.
    Agree with him on another thing, Moss does not seem physically fit enough to work at this level, why is that not being addressed by Riley? Ok we can guess…

  11. @Tony

    I gave up with food and drink at The Emirates years ago. It is overpriced and as you say the service is poor.

    Regarding the game…..The foul on Debuchy was clear.The referee was weak. He looked like he was carrying a bit of timber as well. I enjoyed the game but then again I enjoy most games. Arsenal played rather well. I was particularly pleased with Coquelin’s performance but my shout-out goes to Monreal who has been playing very well now for a number of weeks and yet I still hear moans about him. It drives me nuts. Lastly, when the Ox gets a bit of composure in front of goal he is going to be some player; he was excellent yesterday.

  12. Agree about Monreal, Gooner S, the guy has been immense wherever he’s been asked to play. Top player.

  13. Monreal- will not get player of the month, but deserves to be unsung hero of the month. A very good player with tremendous work ethic and attitude. I like Gibbs a lot despite the odd defensive lapse, but all things being equal, he has quite a challenge to oust Monreal

  14. To follow up on my earlier comment which for some reason went into moderation, here’s the main take away from Arsenal / Stoke game by Stoke Sentinel ‘s Peter Smith( I believe).

    Stoke can’t defend set pieces, and Arsenal are a bunch of cheats and divers. There’s a picture of Monreal on the ground after getting elbowed by Crouch, suggesting in no uncertain terms he’s milking it.

    Mertersacker and Giroud are also singled out for what the author perceived as play acting( Mertersacker) ,and dirty play( Giroud)

    There’s no mention of Alexis’ Man of the match performance , which I thought was strange for a football match report( supposedly) , and of course conveniently ,no mention of Arnautovic cowardly push on Debuchy.

    But here’s the kicker, the lead story was about kids throwing bricks and stones at passing cars from bridges and overpasses.
    Stoke season ticket holders ? , perhaps.

  15. A great win but yet another injury caused by a deliberate act of thuggery which went unpunished. Incredible really.

    Anyway, I would like to talk about the strange case of Manchester…..

    Fact: Stoke is just South of Manchester, around 40 odd minutes by car.

    Fact: The BBC is in Manchester.
    Fact: Manchester is a rainy, damp, miserable place where you wouldn’t even send your dog to a kennel for fear of him returning with a fake tan, hair extensions and an annoying bark that just goes on and on endlessly. I dislike Manchester almost as much as I dislike the BBC.

    FACT: PGMOL is managed by Mike Riley, another Northener. Of the 17 referees of PGMOL, 8 (eight) are from the North West regionof Greater Manchester. Of the remaining 9, only 2 are from the South. So PGMOL is essentially a Northern organisation, managed by a Northener, with Northern based referees.

    The BBC
    My opinion: The arrogant and wasteful BBC are a complete law unto themselves. They waste my licence fee on political and ideological ideals I do not support but send me to prison if I don’t pay. There is democracy for you. They move to lavish new offices in Manchester, wasting more of my money, just for the sake of it. They didn’t ask me if I wanted my money to finance their lavish new lifestyle. Still, off to prison I go if I don’t like it or their output.

    The BBC provide a TV highlights show called Match of the Day. I often wonder they don’t rename this ‘Mismatch of the Day’. After all, it rarely reflects the game that actually took place.

    Mismatch of the Day
    Last night TV presenter Mark Chapman (surprise, surprise he’s from Manchester!!!) seemed irritated by the pundits praise for Sanchez. So he said that for balance (!!) they had to be negative about him. He then tried to say he goes missing against big teams. Quite incredible really, that’s how blatant they are. Are they negative about Ya Ya Toure, Steven Gerrard, Di Maria and Wayne ‘over rated’ Rooney?

    As for the Arnautovic push, hardly any condemnation but I guarantee had that been a push by an Arsenal player, they would all be calling for a ban. Cameras from behind the players show this was a deliberate and cowardly push which the BBC (and the referee) chose to ignore.

    John Moss is a Northern referee. He is from Sunderland. He was poor yesterday and has obviously been over indulging judging by his inability to keep up with play. He seemed to have some kind of empathy for Stokes physical play. Soft Southerners – they don’t like it up em Mr. Mannering. Huge chip on shoulder about the South, no doubt.

    Why are our players booked so quickly by the Northern referees, yet Northern teams shown more leniancy?

    Its not a conspiracy. It’s a fact. We have a Northern TV broadcaster, Northern pundits, Northern Referees, Northern referees association. The only think I am surprised about is that these clowns don’t still live in caves.

  16. Manchester again………!

    Ex Manchester Utd player Lou Macari is having a go at Alexis Sanchez in the Stoke Sentinal:

    “I said last week that I feared for Stoke at Arsenal, even without those set-pieces weaknesses, and so the final result didn’t surprise me too much. I just thought both Arsenal and their fans would be up for Stoke, given recent rivalry and that defeat at the Britannia just five weeks earlier.

    The big disappointment for me, and no doubt Stoke fans, was the fact their players didn’t make it more difficult for Arsenal and most of their wounds were self-inflicted at set pieces.

    Another difference between the two teams on the day was Alexis Sanchez, of course, and people are inevitably banging on about him because there are so few quality acts in the Premier League. I still worry that we are maybe building this guy up too much though. I’ve got to say he was next to useless when I saw him against Manchester United earlier this season.

    For me, a truly top player can turn it on week-in and week-out, home or away, and against the big boys.

    The jury is still out for me where Sanchez is concerned.”

  17. PGMOL? Not fit for purpose (in every sense of the phrase.) These referees are getting fatter and less fit each week. See how fat Dowd is fat again, along with Moss, Dean, and Probert was hopelessly out of condition in his comeback match at Fulham. Can’t wait to have him against us again. I expect Atkinson for the City game. When SAF complained about Wiley, it finished Wiley’s career. On Sunday, Moss was not interested in stopping the play for MD, he was lumbering back to the halfway line for the goalkick. Did we not even get a freekick for idiot Crouch’s assault on Nacho? This mob, led by Riley, are the worst ever. They are controlled puppets (and muppets), who ignore the safety of players, for the great NW plan.

  18. proudkev

    First season in the Premiership.

    18 goals

    7 assists.

    Recently walked a poll asking which player you would like in your team.

    Most acquired player in fantasy football since season began (I was told this by a friend who seems to know such things, Sincere apologies if I have been mis informed)

    Every one I speak to, friend, family or work mate think he is amazing.


  19. Well said Proud Kev.
    would add that Stoke have always bowed down to Utd. In Fergies day, Pulis would pitch up at OT, his highly physical team under orders to hardly put a tackle in. Their reward, they would lose at OT, usually 2-0 but not be thrashed, but since Fergie controlled the refs, they could take on other teams, especially anyone that rivalled Utd…. using pretty much whatever tactics they wanted with inpunity.
    Another thing, they Stoke are owned by a family of bookmakers, the Coates Family / Bet365. I am sure our wonderful FA and EPL have done a thorough due diligence, and ensured there could be no possible conflict of interest in what amounts to a bookmaker owning a Premiership side.
    But that ref did not help things, he basically just gave up on the game and let them do whatever he wanted. The guy couldnt even get them to stand 10 yards back on free kicks.
    Our players and manager should be in the faces of refs like this, not physical, but mental and psychological pressure should be put on them, like most other teams do.

    The Stoke Sentinel, will have to take a look at this comic. The jury out on Sanchez! makes a change I guess from the narrative of where would Arsenal be without him (neglecting of course to question where…say Spurs would be without Harry Kane)

  20. Ugh, Macari – hardly whiter than white.
    Jambug, yes without exception across my work colleagues and friends, who support different teams, everyone thinks that Sanchez is fantastic and the best signing of the season. What a player!
    I wonder if there is any journalist or so-called pundit out there, who has a good word to say about Arsenal. If we are watching the game on TV, we have music on. We never listen to the tripe spoken on the media any more.

  21. I recall Walter once hinting at double-standards with the PGMO fitness tests. It is obvious that a referee who is fit will perform better:

    – Closer to incidents
    – Better angle to view incidents
    – Less shattered when having to make a decision. We all know that judgement deteriorates with the onset of fatigue.

  22. As for media coverage, it is obvious that the assault on Debuchy was an assault. A yellow card at the least. As for Crouch, the flailing elbow on Monreal was at the very, very least a foul!

    Then we had Crouch in late on Mertesacker and Giroud being continually manhandled by Sh*wcross. I also noticed Koscielny limping heavily for a few minutes in the first half.

    So our entire defence nobbled at some point or another!

  23. As much as I detest Stoke and the way they employ premeditated thuggery against us, the ultimate blame is with the Referees and the PGMOL.

    A society will not sustain order without law and the application of that law.

    If our society was all of a sudden without law, or more importantly the police to hold up the law, chaos and civil disobedience would following within, not years, not Months, not days, but hours.

    This is the sad reality of human nature.

    Stoke can only behave in the way they do because they are allowed to.

    And why are they allowed to?

    The fucking media.

    Tell me, who is it judging the performance of Moss?

    Is it the PGMOL? Who the fuck knows? They MAY be but we’ll never know will we. But I doubt it anyway.

    I’ll tell you what they are doing, there sitting back and waiting to see how he is judged in the media.

    If the media deem Moss’s performance to be satisfactory, which they are doing of course, that will be it.

    Apparently amongst all the incidents yesterday there’s only one thing being highlighted and that’s an off the ball incident involving Giroud that’s been highlighted by that complete wanker John Cross.

    Yeah, thanks john, spoken like a true Arsenal fan. You really are a piece of work.

    Anyway it will be interesting to see if anything at all happens post match.

    I suspect nothing, but would suggest we keep an eye on the Giroud incident because if anything at all will be looked at retrospectively it will be that.

  24. Jambug And Mandy. Any person who knows football can see the quality Alexis Sanchez has. For Lou Macari to write such a pathetic article really does go some way to show the contempt in which any person attached to our club is held. To use the argument about top teams is really disengenerous, as football is a team game. I have no idea what has motivated the constant stream of negative narrative we seem to attract, someone will have to explain.

    I have had enough of the Manchester Mafia disrespecting our club.

  25. I think if they charge Giroud that’d be the final straw that broke the back. We should march to wherever they’re holed up and let them know this circus can’t continue any longer.

    The tackle on Debuchy reminds me of the one made by Ben Thatcher (was it on Mendes?) those many years ago; the ball had gone out of play in both cases and yet they were still taken out by a cowardly vicious elbow – Mendes in the chin/neck area and Debuchy in the back. The shocking thing is the differences in reactions by the media to both cases. In Ben Thatcher’s case it almost ended his career, if it didn’t. In Debuchy’s case…..silence. Infuriating.

  26. Jambug et al
    I don’t believe for a second macari or whatever his name is believed what he wrote. Bet he was frothing at the mouth when he was typing/saying that. Envy is a terrible thing. In his view, does he think Sanchez went missing at the world cup against the likes of Brazil etc? Muppet.

    I too have Manchester, Chelsea, Liverpool supporting colleagues and just about the only thing we agree on is that Sanchez is class.

  27. Sorry to go off topic but SKY just produced these statistics to emphasise what a great defence Southampton have.

    Fewest shots faced by team.




    Man City……..220

    Man Utd………223


    So assuming these stats are a decent barometer to make judgement on how good a defence is, it seems our shambolic, tactically inept, midfield enforcer less (and shall we add for good measure, injury ravaged) defence isn’t so bad after all.

    I read somewhere we also had the dubious honour of conceding from the first shot on target more than anyone else.

    So it seems it not our defence that’s shit but our keeper !!!

    Only joking, but it does beg the question, why?

    Why are we conceding so many goals when we are clearly managing to keep sides at arms length better than most.

    Is it the keeper? Personally I don’t think so because Southampton aside our keepings been fine.

    Bad luck? Maybe.

    But the truth is I don’t know.

    What I do know is these stats show that, why there is always room for improvement, our defence, or more pertinently, our ‘defending’, is nothing like as bad as some would have us believe.

  28. Stoke were the instigators of their own downfall . Shawcross and Hughes pre match comments on the way that The Arsenal have a soft underbelly created a scenario that they had to live up to. Shawcross wanted to intimidate both Mertesacker and Giroud and prove his hardness . In fact he stopped thinking about football and allowed the physical to overcome him. Taking a lead from their captain other members of their team concentrated more on the man than the ball. Once they had lost their way there was no coming back for them . Their game plan works oop north because our refs are weak and easily intimidated and probably lean towards them anyway. Their only real threat Bojan was anonymous because he had no time , Le Coq must take some credit for this , if he can concentrate on his game and not get carried away with the need for an aggressive tackler in the middle and keep things simple like yeaterday , we might just have found a useful squad member that most of us didn’t see coming.

  29. Jambug

    As you have those 6 numbers ordered, it is easy to pick off the median at 218. The average of those 6, is about 217. The square root of 217/218 is between 14 and 15 (14*14=196, 15*15=225), so expect a standard deviation proportional to 14.5, maybe double that (29). Make it 30 to make the math easier. 220-30 is 190, and 220+30 is 250. It is quite likely, that all of those shots on goal numbers are statistically the same number. Or rather, the difference between those numbers is likely just due to random chance.

  30. Gord

    I cant pretend to have a clue what you’re talking about, Maths (or is it Math) was never my strong point, but surely if you are talking averages then you have to use every team.

    Surely averaging out just the 5, more specifically just the top 5 is very inaccurate.

    I always understood, the more data, the more accurate the conclusions, especially regarding averages.

    Anyway, in laymen’s language, what was you trying to say?

  31. @jambug

    The other main reason our defence has been accused of being bad is due to the fact that several goals against should have been disallowed for various infringements! Starting with Everton away, where at least 1 should not have stood; if the ref at Stamford Bridge had any balls, chances are neither goal would have been scored as Chelsea would have had one or maybe 2 players sent off before the first goal; Hull’s equaliser was one of the most blatant fouls you will ever see; Man Utd’s first goal was a result of 2 bad decisions; Stoke’s third at the Britannia was dubious; I would even argue that West Ham’s goal was illegal as Debuchy was fouled trying to head the ball away! At worst that is 8 goals conceded that weren’t even legal goals!

    Then there are the ‘unintended consequences’ of some of these ‘goals’ – some refs would and should have chalked off both of Everton’s goals; if Hull don’t get that break on the first goal, chances are they don’t score a second, and the same applies to Man Utd’s first and second goals. Add these all together and you come up with 11 or 12 goals conceded that should never have stood in the first place!

    We are actually defending well as a unit, but injuries, very occasional individual errors and some hideous officiating means we have conceded 25 goals in the league this season somehow!

  32. With little data, the median is usually better than the average. With little data, something called the MAD is better than the standard deviation.

    I was trying to suggest, that there is not enough difference between those 6 teams to say that any of them is noticably better than the rest. The reason I picked 6, is that you presented data for 6. Should the number be 5 or 7 or 8? I don’t know.

    There is certainly no reason to include all the teams, as the team in 20th position should not statistically be part of the group occupying the top of the standings. I think that some years, the league partitions into 2 groups and sometimes into 3, and the size of each group can vary. If we split into 3 groups, we probablly see groups tending to be in the 6-8 range. If we knew that there should always be 3 groups in the EPL (totalling 20), and because it is easier to be bad than good, I would guess something like 5, 7, 8 for the group sizes. If we knew that there should only be 2 groups, I would probably guess something between 6/14 and 8/12.

    More data is better, this particular problem never has enough data.

    On the basis of shots conceeded, there is no reason to think that Southampton is significantly better than Liverpool. It may be that if one plots other properties as well (multi-dimensional plot), that you might resolve those 6 teams into 2 parts. I would still be concerned whether there would be a significant difference.

    If you are wondering why I pulled square roots out, the variance of things we count is often about the same as the average of what we count. That is found in physics and statistics. The standard deviation is a measure of how wide the distribution is, and ignoring any correction factor which may be needed (and can be lumped into some multiplier), the width is the square root of the variance.


  33. jambug,

    As an engineer and mathematician, I am happy to inform you that you are correct. Gord used the 6 listed teams with the least shots against but they are the best 6 of 20 teams. If he uses 20 instead of 6, he will get a dramatically different result.

    Your observation is spot on again my friend.

  34. Gord

    “I was trying to suggest, that there is not enough difference between those 6 teams to say that any of them is noticably better than the rest.”

    If that was what you was trying to show then I see you only needed the 6.

    Goals Concede:

    Soton…… 15





    Liverpool.. 27

    So, apart from Arsenal the order is identical.

    It seems the only anomaly in the shots faced to goals ratio is Arsenal with a disproportionately high amount conceded to shots faced.




    A bit of each?

    I would suggest the later.

  35. Gord,

    I cannot disagree with you more. Jambug wasn’t talking about the defensive record of the 6 teams he listed. He was commenting on the entire league. In order for your calculation of standard deviation to be valid in this context it has to be for the whole league. If we want to stick with your yardstick then the league champions wouldn’t be worthy as the same application would have made their lead insignificant.

    I think the problem here is that you are applying s.d. to professional sports data where the numbers are always tight and this is a big mistake. If we apply your system to Olympics 100m races, the results would always be draws.

  36. We (or at least I) are following the premise of this thread. The more words, the less understanding. And I think we are going to have smoked statistician at some point. 🙂

    I am going to try again. The numbers presented (and I did not dig up any numbers on my own to add to what Jambug presented) do not allow for anyone suggesting that Southampton is significantly better than Liverpool. Jambug brought in goals scored against, and it too is the same situation. There is not a significant difference between the goals against of Southampton and Liverpool. Or maybe it is on the verge of a little significance.

    If the EPL consists of 2 or 3 populations of teams, I am still okay in just considering the top 6. One point that I will raise, is that if the EPL consists of more than one population of teams, measures of central tendency may be possible to calculate but have no meaning. If I give you 6 apples and 14 oranges, does calculating the average fruit mass tell you anything? The average apple mass has meaning.

    One point Jambug did bring up, was shots to goals ratio. If the PGMO is issuing excessive free kicks (phantom fouls?) to other teams close to our goal, that might be one driving factor in altering that one ratio. Are there others?

    I know that prizes are not given out for being statistically best, just best. Which is a combination of ability (quality) and random chance.

    Football is among the worst sports for being this way (little statistical significance to league standing, goals scored, goal difference, …).

  37. Explaining the math in laymen’s terms,

    For the most part, Gord and Jambug are saying the same things but in different ways. Jambug basically calling Sky out for their double standards for praising Southampton, Chelsea, etc, but ignoring Arsenal even though Arsenal have faced the second fewest shots.

    Gord through statistics was basically saying the same that Arsenal’s defense is just as good as the other teams mentioned on the list. Stats were a little off however in the standard deviation calculation of the top 6. Standard deviation is calculated getting the square root of the variance, not the mean.

    Variance is basically taking the difference from the mean on each team, squaring it, adding them together, and dividing by the total number. I.E. the mean was 216.833, we’ll say 217 for easier math. Arsenal’s variance is (217-211)^2 = 6^2 = 36. And you do that for each team and divide the total number by 6. I did that with the real number 216.833 and found the standard deviation to be 12.429, we’ll say 12.5 to make the math easy.

    Based on that, there is nothing that really separates Arsenal, Chelsea, City, or United since they’re all within 1 SD (216 +/- 12.5). Southampton is better by 1 SD, and Liverpool are worse by 1 SD

  38. And Bootoomee’s statement was also correct, that based on the average of the whole league, Arsenal and most of this top 6 group will be significantly better than the average.

  39. @Jambug,

    in regards to your goals conceded stats, I agree that shots faced to goals conceded anomaly of Arsenal is due to both bad luck and bad refs. Refs probably are more of the reason considering the occasional phantom fouls/free kicks near our penalty area and like Vikrant mentioned the many goals that were conceded but should have been called back due to fouls. If you subtract those 8, Arsenal is at 17 right where we should in 2nd for goals conceded.

  40. Gord,

    I get your point but I disagree with the context.

    When it comes to professional sport prowess comparison, standard deviation is useless. The gap between the first 5 to even 10 elite competitors can be so small that any application of the statistical concepts that you are bringing in would render them all the same as you just did with the original 6 data provided by jambug. The gaps in the number of “shots against” for the 6 teams as shown is significant in the original context and there is no need to introduce standard deviation.

    Again, I understand what you did but I don’t see the need and I disagree with your interpretation because it isn’t a good measure in this context.

  41. What does roasting statistician smell like Jerry? 🙂

    Ummm, I wasn’t making an error in how I was estimating variance. I was doing it differently than Statistics-101 does.

    Just for people who are curious, statistics can get downright evil. There are distributions where the mean (or central moments of power higher than 1) do not exist. One that I believe Wikipedia writes a bit about, has many names. One is the Cauchy. It posssesses a median and a mode, but it does not posssess a mean or variance.

    A Poisson distribution, has a variance equal to the mean. The binomial and negative binomial distributions have variances that are functions of the mean, the binomial has less variance than a similar Poisson, and the negative binomial has more variance than the similar Poisson.

  42. Jerry,

    I took too long to post my last comment and then saw that yours was already up. Well said about s.d. being square root of variance but I didn’t take issue with that because I know that Gord knows this too. My issue is the application of s.d. to data like this; it just wouldn’t work. Not because of bad maths but because of the inapplicable scenario.

    On the reason why we concede so many goals, I will second jambug’s suggestion of bad luck among other things. Let’s look at 2 examples:

    1. Against Chelsea, we conceded a contentious penalty and as we were chasing the equaliser, we conceded a sucker punch of goal from a guy that was anonymous till that point in the game.

    2. Against Man United, we conceded a wickedly deflected goal and, again, conceded a sucker punch of 2nd goal while looking for the equaliser.

    That is 4 additional goals that we conceded due to ill-luck add the last 2 due Szczesny’s individual error and you begin to see a different picture. I must confess though that saying that Arsenal’s defence sucks is a much sexier reason.

  43. @Gord,

    yeah, I figured the easier way, the better when it comes to calculating stats in regards to football. But made it easier so everyone is winner: Gord is right, Jambug is right, Bootoomee is right, and most importantly Arsenal’s defense is exactly right!

  44. Sorry to rudely interrupt this interesting math lecture 🙂 but this is the sickening video of the Thatcher-Mendes incident.
    Quite vicious, I don’t see a lot different between this and Debuchys, and yet this Thatcher tackle was rated the second most brutal tackle in football after Roys tackle on Inge. Really surprising not much is being made of the Debuchy tackle if this was rated so severe.

    I get the feeling someone is trying to send a message to potential Arsenal signings to stay away. Who would want to join our club after seeing the savagery Alexis has been subjected to weekly with no sanctions, seeing nothing being done to Debuchys assailant, seeing Monreal get staples on his face with the ref seemingly more concerned with his assailant’s well being.


  45. Did someone mention a smelly turd?

    Mike Dean/Sméagol for City 😉

    Placing the crow Deano in charge of key Arsenal games (must be a coincidence?) is precious to the PGMO

    *gollum gollum*

  46. @Bootoomee,

    I’ll also agree that bad luck plays a role, but for the most people have no control on luck/mistakes. Teams will try their best to limit their mistakes, but no matter what, mistakes will happen since all the players are human (no matter how many times they call Alexis bionic). For the most part, luck should be equal across all teams with slight variations for and against the various teams.

    On the other hand, ref mistakes have unfortunately been negatively influencing Arsenal matches, but there seems to be no effort to limit these mistakes by the officials in general. For instance, United’s 1st goal you mentioned as bad luck due to the wicked deflection, but that goal to me was due to bad officiating (Fellaini fouling Gibbs by pushing him into Szczesny which was not called, leaving him on the floor resulting in that deflection). Then you have other incidents such as the pullback fouls before scoring in the Hull and Everton games. That’s already 3-4 goals that should not have been allowed if the officials did their matches properly.

    I guess it depends on your view of the different goals.

  47. Jerry,

    I agree with you, I was only pointing out some goals that were conceded due to ill-luck. Trust me, you don’t want to get me started on the referees’ treatment of Arsenal. I even blame them more for our injuries than the goals that we concede due to their ineptitude.

  48. I was really looking forward to the Man C game – but that has been severely tempered by the ref appointment. But then again that seems to be the case most weeks. Clattenburg is probably the only ref I have any faith in at all to referee it as he sees it. Jury out and some of the newer refs too to be fair.

    It really does seem that Riley is out to get Clattenburg – who is commonly regarded as the best ref currently operating. Why is this? Too impartial?

  49. Dean for the City game? Not only does he hate Arsenal, he is a Liverpool supporter. Clearly chosen by a man with a mission.
    As for the injuries we are having inflicted on us, hate to say it, but wish wenger would bring in a player like some of our sons of old, who would exact retribution if required. Yes, this man would get red cards, yes, revenge is a basic thing and probably wrong, but I wish we had a player who would ….or would be allowed to make thugs think twice. We used to have several.
    Also miss the days of proper ref management, Thierry and Dennis would court refs, flatter them initially, but those and others would be in their faces if the refs went wrong. Good cops and bad cops.Why don’t we do that any more? It once worked so well. Others do. Are we paying for principles?

  50. Clattenburg has upset his boss by allowing Leicester to come back and humiliate Utd. Riley does not like seeing Utd humiliated, it upsets at least two men who pull his strings.

  51. Clattenburg is a nightmare for Arsenal. He just sees what he wants to see.
    He sees everything and can easily keep up with play, then he allows Arsenal players to be crocked in front of his eyes and carries on as though not happened.

    Mike Dean is a

  52. Tony, I wanted to post this in response to your comment regarding the coffee service at the stadium. This guy would be a halftime hit with his performance in preparing tea , coffee of cocoa drinks.
    This is how we in Malaysia , Singapore ,Brunei and Thailand are served our drinks . Its called Teh Tarik ( pulled tea ).

  53. Brickfields,
    but could this guy (impressive stuff and never seen such a thing before…) make Tony a cappuccino ????? 😉 🙂

  54. Not a problem , Walter , just put in all the required ingredients ,add hot water and ‘pull ‘ . It’ll be frothy and foamy though .
    Thees guys are somewhat like those bartenders who do trick ‘shots’ drinks.

  55. My favourite song was when Barthez committed two howlers and passed the ball to King Henry XIV who gleefully accepted the offer and scored twice in that away game at Man Utd. Whenever an Arsenal player had the ball, th crowd sang “Give it to Barthez! Barthez is a Gooner!”. Hilarious. That was the day when I became an Arsenal fan!

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