Columbo and the Columbian; and how a word from Untold can sort out the press.

By Tony Attwood

Now here’s a thought I missed: David Ospina has a higher win ratio that any other player in Premier League history.

It’s been 12 games, with 11 wins and six without a goal again.   That is a win percentage of 92 per cent. “No other player in the history of the Premier League who has played more than 10 games has a higher percentage,” so I am told.

Another item to add to the Anniversary files.  (In case you miss them, the list of the day’s Arsenal Anniversaries are on the home page most days).

Meanwhile, yesterday afternoon, just before my regular constitutional across the fields of Northamptonshire, I jotted a piece about an article written by  Telegraph Sport  which had the heading “Alexis Sanchez is wilting away from home for Arsenal” and the sub-heading.

It was a typical negative piece, but based (in my view) on ludicrous ignorance of the way the Arsenal team is developing, and how players’ roles change as the team changes.

So what does the Telegraph do today in response?  They tell us that Mr Wenger has “fine-tuned Arsenal’s attack around Ozil – but it’s brilliance of Sanchez that makes it tick.

“Alexis Sanchez is disproving the theory you should never try to fit square pegs into round holes.   [Actually that is not a theory – that is just a saying like ‘A picture is worth 10,000 words.  Just saying it does not make it true, and nor does it make it a theory – but sloppy writing is the Telegraph style, so we must move on…]

“The Chilean has been pushed out to Arsenal’s left midfield in order to accommodate Mesut Ozil, but his side’s eighth consecutive Premier League win means no-one is questioning the wisdom of Arsene Wenger’s strategy.

“That’s because Sanchez is so good he could play at left back and still be Arsenal’s most dangerous attacker, engineering all the moments of class at Turf Moor on Saturday.”

Which is akin to what I was saying.  Not that I am suggesting the Telegraph staff who wrote the first piece, or their editor, would ever sink to reading a mere blog, but obviously upon reflection they saw the error of their ways.   They haven’t managed to acknowledge that foreigners use accents over certain letters [it’s Sánchez guys], but you can’t have everything at once.

Still at least this time they did admit who wrote the piece, rather than publishing it as a co-operative venture.  It was Chris Bascombe.  Maybe that was after watching Alexis Sánchez run 30 yards at top speed to dispossess Burnley’s George Boyd so he could pass the ball back to Ooooooooooooooospina.

Perhaps more interesting, indeed certainly more interesting, are the comments from Mr Wenger after the game.

“I would just remind you that we won a championship without losing a game,” he said. “Nobody else has done that.”

That is relevant because not one single team has achieved eight consecutive wins in the PL league games before us this season.  In fact Mr Wenger then challenged the squad to complete the season undefeated.    Which is one of those things he does – like when he said we could go the whole season undefeated – and we lost the next game.  But did it the next season.

“I always hope the best of my team but, if he is serious, no manager in the world can predict a run like that,” he said.

Anyway people are still doing lots of talking about Thierry Henry and his commentary that Coquelin was like “Columbo”, policing things that other found it hard to police.  “Coquelin contributes to the balance of the team,” Mr Wenger added. “We have a better balance.”

Of course people will ask why it is that it has taken so long to find another Invisible Wall, but to be fair, there are not that many of them around.  But when we get one, let’s hold on to him.  We’ve only lost once with Coquelin in the side this season.

Of the Burnley match, Mr Wenger said, “You cannot always win 3-1 or 4-1 or 5-1.  You have to be capable of winning 1-0 as well. We know we can play with sharpness and fluency but today was a bit more scrappy, more fighting, more combative and we can produce that side as well.”

And here is something that has started popping up: Man of the match Francis Coquelin (Arsenal).   Well well.

Elsewhere the Maxi Romero story continues with the latest being that Arsenal have now formally agreed to pay £4.5m fee for the 16-year-old young man from Velez Sarsfield.    The papers have upgraded him in the last week or two to ‘the next Lionel Messi’.  He will stay in Argentina for two seasons, learn English, find some way to get an EU passport somehow, and then come and see us.


The books

35 Replies to “Columbo and the Columbian; and how a word from Untold can sort out the press.”

  1. Tony, you ever had anything to say here about Martin Samuel and his anti-FFP crusade?

    The guy kills me, and if I had to bet my life on one football journo who has enjoyed a few free lunches (they’re never free though,are they) with some powerful representatives of vested interest groups, it would be him.

    He’s an excellent point-maker, and yet he is relentlessly presenting only the one side of this important argument. Time after time after time. What could account for it?

  2. Henry’s comments about Coquelin alluded to the fact that he works well in that position because ‘he knows his place’ and that his ego doesn’t demand that he has to get involved in the oppositions penalty area. In other words – if he doesn’t score or assist a single goal for the rest of his career it’s alright just as long as he shields the back four and restricts opponents chances to a minimum.
    Song had too much of an ego to fulfill that role perfectly and we were often blinded to his imperfections (which were never as great as many made out anyway) because he made some great assists, particularly for RVP. Gilberto did the job magnificently but got glory because he took penalties and had (as Coquelin does now) a foward line of ‘magicians’ (copyright T.Henry) in front of him.
    Balance in a team is an elusive thing – made more so by egos and injuries. And it’s often easier to achieve by promoting players from inside the Club rather than importing them often for ego inflating transfer fees.

  3. What is this obsession with influencing journalists. You guys don’t. Get over it. I doubt any broadsheet sports correspondent has even heard about untold let along visited it.

    Also newspapers are not a unity. It is quite normal and desirable to have entirely different or even contradictory opinions about a club or anything else in the same paper and on the same day.

  4. You may be right, Simon, but whatever the truth it is nice to be ahead of them. But it would be a strange journalist who didn’t do some research, and the better blog sites would be a reasonable place to do some of that.

    As far as Untold is concerned the zeitgeist is so yesterday.

    He writes what he wants, he writes what he wants,
    Tony Attwood,
    He writes what he wants.

  5. @ Gord

    I doubt it, that wouldn’t allow the powers that be to give it to Kane, having given player of the year to Hazard!!!

  6. Did you see that Benik Afobe has passed Kane in the scoring race?

    I think any time a defender has a chance at player of the year, it has to be pushed. Too many people just track goals, to the detriment of people who defend, or who assist a lot.

  7. @Gord

    Correct me if I am wrong Tony but I think young players award is for those under 24 so he is eligible but with the press already singing the praises of Kane (not that he does not deserve the award) the award recipient is already chosen.

    Have you read a story in the press where the information been floated is totally wrong and the aim is to deceive the readers into believing what is not true (which IMO is wrong for all intents and purposes)? If you have, you wouldn’t make this comment.

  8. Well said Insideright, for many years we have been on the Manager’s side to promote our own, but some did not want it. I wonder how much money Coquelin has saved us right now. Besides, he plays with a real heart because he cares, he is one of us. Now i’m crossing my fingers (and every thing) so that Isaac Hayden makes it.

  9. When people hurt you over and over again, think of them like Sandpaper. You may be scratched now, but you end up Polished & Beautiful. They just end up USELESS!
    ~ Unknown

  10. How dare you say such things Simon. You believe that jounalists dont visit the football bible that is Untold?

    Some people say that the negative press Arsenal receive is because of this blog. Apparently, the journalists are jealous of the fair, balanced and unbiased view of all things Arsenal and football it deals in.

  11. In my whole time of reading Untold ive never heard/seen one person make the statement “the negative press Arsenal receive is because of this blog.” Another aaa moron pulling shyte out of his arse; who would have guessed it?! Seriously, if you dislike it so much ZOON why do you continue to come here and comment/read it? Cos i can assure you everyone dislikes reading your comments as much as you seemingly dislike reading ours.

  12. In other developments of things happening over the weekend. Do you guys know that spuds fans actually covet Arsenal (Players and Manager) I was reading spuds fans reaction on skysports after their loss to Villa and they are actually wishing their team can be more like Arsenal, Players, Manager, Performance and Stadium.

    It was fun and heart warming seeing spuds fans bemoaning been unable to have or attract WC players like Ozil and Sanchez or a genius coach like Wenger. Also the inability to qualify for CL which we are taking for granted cos we’ve done it 18 consecutive times (this season inclusive).

    So to all aaa/WOB out there waiting for us to drop points so you can resume ranting, you don’t know how good we’ve got it. If ever in doubt again, ask a Spuds fan.

  13. Some fine comebacks – take your pick !

    This is an excellent time for you to become a missing person.

    A sharp tongue does not mean you have a keen mind.

    Anyone who told you to be yourself couldn’t have given you any worse advice.

    Are you always this stupid or are you making a special effort today.

    Don’t let your mind wander, it’s far too small to be let out on its own.

    Don’t thank me for insulting you, it was a pleasure.

    Don’t you realize that there are enough people to hate in the world already without you putting in so much effort to give us another?

    He always finds himself lost in thought; it’s unfamiliar territory.

    I bet you get bullied a lot.

    I don’t know what makes you so dumb but it really works.

    Whatever it is that is eating you, it must be suffering horribly.

    I know you are nobody’s fool, but maybe someone will adopt you one day.

    I used to think that you were a colossal pain in the neck. Now I have a much lower opinion of you.

    I will defend, to your death, my right to my opinion.

    I would have liked to insult you, but the sad truth is that you wouldn’t understand me.

    This man is cruelly depriving a village somewhere of an idiot.

  14. The income of many (most) former newspapers is shifting to their online sites. Some sites charge a fee to read whereas most rely on the number of hits to generate advertising income. Marketers are using well tested statistical tools to see what generates the most income for their various clients. Instead of one well thought out article every 2 or 3 days, a reporter may now be required to put out many more smaller articles – some on the same day…all to mine more hits on the internet. The critics of Untold may be true – we may have no influence on the various commercial media but I would suggest it would be foolish of them to ignore us. Foolish, not because the opinions expressed here are correct, per se, but because Untold itself gets a lot of hits and therefore must be taken into account when doing their marketing analyses.

  15. I do see lots of tiny articles. But I also continue to see the summary article, which has one half sentence or less on each game in a division or country.

    Personally, I have no interest in reading an article about Liverpool, unless it is Liverpool that we were playing. But the headlines which points to the article talking about multiple games is to be avoided.

    There is almost never any content.

  16. So in a way, you approve an article saying Özil is not influential (yes, 4 key chances on saturday) and that Sanchez was put to the left to accomodate a guy that isn’t worth it?
    Oh, OK… For me, i expect much more from Sanchez how costed a lot and doesn’t earn much less than Özil. You’re always very eager to jump to the defence of Sanchez. Ok, good, but do not mix it with making down another player of your team who has been much better than Sanchez for 3 months now.

  17. Nonny the Spurs fan’s desires to see their club more like the Arsenal is nothing new. You only have to listen to any phone in to hear that their first step every season is to beat us. It’s their primary objective and is spawned from sheer jealousy. It has been that way ever since we bloodied their nose and burst their egos in 1971. It was when we took away their bludgeoning tool about their 61 double and as we went on to repeat the feat again and again the spite grew . They have had their brief cup resurgences since then but the records of the two clubs are poles apart , Arsenal have 13 league wins to their 2 and cup wins 11 to their 8. The video below sums it up.

  18. Alex that is certainly not how I meant it. And indeed I think my earlier commentaries particularly about Özil do make it clear that I am astounded by his talent, and don’t agree with the article.

  19. Nonny, Tottenham have indeed been following a particular format for some time and it doesn’t work – yet they keep doing it. The one manager they had who could deliver the Champions League twice (at least I think that’s right, I am working from memory after a glass of wine, relaxing at home) was Harry Redknapp. And they sacked him for doing it.

    Now they have the problem of financing the new stadium, and playing a season away from WHL.

    He’s an interesting fantasy scenario: Tottenham play that season away from wHL and get relegated so come back to 55000 capacity NEW WHL and play in the Championship.

    My dear old pal Roger, sadly no longer with us, and I, used to argue about Tottenham. He always said that he wanted them each season to escape relegation on goal difference, so we could beat them again next year. I wanted them in the Southern League.

  20. I would have thought with the TV money coming it will not be as financially difficult for the Tots to build their new stadium as it was for us.

    The big problem seems to be that when the team has a dip in results the power/s that be cannot resist the temptation to immediately fire the manager.

    For the fans sake I hope they resist the temptation this season if the team fall down the league at least give the manager another season to produce a challenge for the top.

    The late, great Sir Bobby Robson failed at first as did our own manager and former Tots player Herbert Chapman. The club management stuck with them and they produced winning teams. That could happen for the Tots. Not that as an Arsenal supporter I would want that.

  21. As much as I’ve always known of this ill feeling and jealousy spuds always had on Arsenal, I just couldn’t believe their fans would openly call the management of the club to try and emulate Arsenal’s stability.

  22. Tony, I owe you an apology of sorts here.

    Thought the site was overdoing it a little in the suggestions of how closely journalists looked at it…then I saw tonight’s article from Henry Winter of, yup, the Telegraph

    ‘Arsene Wenger’s disciples have restored their messiah to his pedestal, lauding Arsenal’s manager for an impressive eight successive wins when his season-changing decision, summoning Francis Coquelin from exile, was forced on him. Coquelin has become one of Arsenal’s most important players, the beast amidst the beauty, by accident.’

    It’s quite a long article, and continues relentlessly and emphatically in the same vein as the sample above. A good moment, perhaps, to remember Winter has written books on Ferguson and Mourinho. You probably have to…do certain things, be a certain way, to get those gigs. And maybe the relationships don’t necessarily end the day the book is complete.

    Merely being put out by our good run wouldn’t seem to explain the vitriol nor the timing of it.

  23. Simon, you said: “I doubt any broadsheet sports correspondent has even heard about untold let along visited it.”

    That will be why we even got an interview on the BBC a few years ago with me and Dogface talking to their reporter.
    I even have corresponded with a radio presenter from Talk Sport a while ago.

    Just two examples I can give you in a second.

  24. Vitriol is right. Instead of being pleased that a young player who has been at Arsenal for many years has suddenly and rapidly matured and found where his true strength lies, Winter uses it as a stick to beat Arsene Wenger. Clear sign of an agenda.

    I was very impressed to read Coquelin’s own analysis of his game on He recognises his strength is to lay the foundation for players more skilful than himself to do their stuff. Maybe it was the maturity to accept that that is his best feature that has enabled him to now perform in the way he is doing.

  25. Guess Winter will also deny Sherwood or Poch any credit for Kane then. Or Redknapp any credit for a young Welshman he was about to ship off to Birmingham, said young Welshman now plays for Real Madrid. The game is littered with Coquelin types who given a chance have seized it.
    That journalist has always been a bit obsessed with Arsenal, like a lot of his colleagues.

  26. Simon, I have met a journalist who knows about untold. I will give you a clue, he has the same initials as Jesus Christ, who died on the Cross.

  27. Did anyone notice Newcastle were denied the most blatant of penalties tonight against the Dippers – even the Sky commentator noticed the incident.

    What was the ref smoking? 🙂

  28. The Olympic Colors… cumming second ….

    A man is out shopping and discovers a new brand of condoms: Olympic condoms.

    Impressed, he decides to buy a pack to show his wife. After he arrives home, he proudly presents the olympic condoms to his puzzled wife.

    “Olympic condoms?” she asks him. “What makes them olympic, exactly?”

    “Well,” answers her husband, “They come in three colors: Gold, Silver and Bronze.”

    “What color are you going to wear tonight?” she asks with a smile.

    “Gold, of course!” proclaims her husband proudly.

    “Really,” ponders the wife, “Why don’t you wear Silver?”

    “Why silver?” asks the husband.

    “Well, it would be nice if you came second for a change.”

  29. How great it would be if our rivals did improve and the Arsenal / Spuds rivalry becomes the most exciting talked about rivalry ever in the history of the PL?

  30. Rich

    Yes Rich I read Henry Winter’s article stating that Francis Coquelin’s- “Emergence Happened by Accident not Design”. Having read the article it seemed reluctant to aportion any credit to Arsene Wenger and that had it not been for the injuries to Arteta, Diaby, Ramsey, Wilshire and Flamini, then Arsenal would not be enjoying the its success at present. In my opinion, Henry Winter is finding it difficult being impartial and maybe dislikes Arsense Wenger for what ever reason I’m not sure. I wonder would Henry Winter write an article about the emergence of Fellani and Mata was by accident and not design.

    But how many Managers show patience and humility towards players, like Arsene Wenger. All Arsense asks in return is a positive attitude and proffessional commitment and you’ll be given the opportunity at Arsenal. Emmanual Frimpong is a prime example of how not to be.

  31. Woe betide the day Diaby shines & rips apart Winters wet dreams.

    Its a circumcised Winter all year long in the Telegraph. Arsene found a big Coq that has surprised the hacks & their investments are getting fcuked.

    49 undefeated playing Wengerball & only Riley cheating stopped the train.

  32. Thanks, Tony. More of the usual anti-Arsenal from the media. But they didn’t like that French 2nd division winger either (TH). And a shout to Rich for posting that ridiculous Telegraph article before I could. He also reminds us of who else Winter shills for. Go Rich!

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