What the papers don’t want to say, what they can’t bring themselves to admit

By Tony Attwood

I didn’t intend to cover the end of the court case relating to the Hillsborough tragedy on Untold, not out of any lack of compassion or respect but rather because I couldn’t think of anything to say that hadn’t been said a thousand times, and said much better, by others.

But then I realised that the first editions of the Times and the Sun had both ignored the findings of the court yesterday, findings which removed all blame from Liverpool fans and instead placing it firmly in the hands of the police.

The story was the dominant news on both BBC Radio 4 and BBC Five Live this morning, and on the front of all other papers.

So why did the Sun go with Aids (to Cameron) use Whats App to keep EU plot secret and Did Ritz zzzz with Jay, while the Times led with Labour MP Backed Moving Israel to US in antisemitism row, Don’t go any further with strike, public tells doctors, and Tycoon’s knighthood at risk over BHS collapse.

[May I add that “antisemitism” is written above as it appears on the Times front page.]

The Times and the Sun are owned by Murdoch, and it was, of course, the Sun that led the claims about alleged appalling behaviour by Liverpool supporters in the Hillsborough tragedy.  The Times changed changed its front page for later editions, but the Sun didn’t.

In one sense,  there is no surprise here.  It is what newspapers do.  They invent tales and stick by them, no matter how untrue, or how much pain they inflict.  And although other papers have today been infinitely more respectful to the families of the bereved that doesn’t mean they reflect what is actually happening in the world of football on other occasions.

But even I was surprised that Murdoch’s press would take matters this far.

However having had my little say on that I want to move away from the Hillsborough story and leave others more able and more qualified than me to comment.  But I do want to stay with the theme of newspaper reporting.

Type “Arsenal injury crisis” into Google and you’ll get around one third of a million hits.  Here’s a few from the top of the list on my machine today…

They also point out that “Stoke City’s impressive start to the season was eventually curtailed by injuries, while Liverpool and Manchester United missing numerous players has been well documented.”

The Indy uses the same source that Untold has used all the way through the season, (although the link they provide on their web page to Physioroom is rather unhelpful in this regard) and which we regularly quote in Bulldog’s match previews.

Clubs Injury no Player injured What’s wrong Return
Liverpool! 7 D Origi Ankle/Foot no date
E Can Ankle/Foot Injury 5 weeks
J Henderson LCL Knee Ligament Injury 3 weeks
C Benteke LCL Knee Ligament Injury 5 days
J Rossiter Hamstring Injury no date
D Ings ACL Knee Injury 5 weeks
J Gomez ACL Knee Injury 5 weeks
Stoke City 7 S Given Groin/Pelvis Injury no date
I Afellay ACL Knee Injury 8 months
X Shaqiri Hamstring Injury 4 days
J Butland Ankle/Foot Injury 2 months
J Walters Cartilage Knee Injury 4 days
G Johnson Knee Injury 2 weeks
M Wilson MCL Knee Ligament Injury 4 days
Newcastle United 6 S Taylor Muscular Injury no date
D Janmaat Groin Strain no date
R Elliott ACL Knee Injury no date
F Coloccini Calf/Shin Injury no date
M Haidara Knee Injury no date
T Krul ACL Knee Injury 3 months
Bournemouth 5 M Gradel Hip/Thigh Injury 4 days
A Smith Inguinal Hernia no date
T Rantie Muscular Injury no date
H Arter Calf/Shin Injury no date
T Mings Knee Injury 4 months
West Bromwich Albion 5 S Berahino Ankle/Foot Injury no date
B Foster Ankle/Foot Injury no date
A Pritchard Hip/Thigh Injury no date
C Brunt ACL Knee Injury 5 months
J Morrison Hamstring Injury 2 weeks
Chelsea 4 G Cahill Illness 1 week
L Remy Groin Strain no date
J Terry Calf/Shin Injury 1 week
K Zouma ACL Knee Injury 3 months
Everton 4 P Jagielka Hamstring Injury no date
G Barry Groin/Pelvis Injury 4 days
S Coleman Hamstring Injury no date
T Browning Knee Injury 5 weeks
Manchester United 4 A Januzaj Hamstring Injury 5 days
B Schweinsteiger MCL Knee Ligament Injury no date
W Keane Groin/Pelvis Injury no date
L Shaw Broken Leg 4 weeks
Aston Villa 3 C Clark Knock no date
K Richardson Knock no date
J Amavi ACL Knee Injury no date
Crystal Palace 3 B Hangeland Knock no date
M Chamakh Groin Strain no date
K Appiah ACL Knee Injury no date
Manchester City 3 D Silva Hamstring Injury no date
Y Toure Muscular Injury no date
S Nasri Muscular Injury 5 days
Norwich City 3 A Wisdom Knee Injury no date
T Klose Knee Injury no date
A Tettey Ankle/Foot Injury no date
Southampton 2 C Austin Knee Injury 5 days
F Gardos Knee Injury no date
Tottenham Hotspur 2 E Dier Head Injury no date
N Bentaleb Knee Injury no date
Leicester City 1 L Ulloa Back Injury no date
Sunderland 1 J Lens Illness 4 days
Watford 1 E Capoue Knee Injury 2 weeks
West Ham United 1 C Jenkinson ACL Knee Injury 6 months
Arsenal 0
Swansea City 0


They go on to tell us that “Arsenal, surprisingly, have had the seventh fewest number of injuries this season, although key players such as Cazorla, Francis Coquelin and Alexis Sanchez have all missed stretches this season.”

And why is it “surprisingly” so?  Presumably because the press kept telling us otherwise, despite Untold’s relentless correction of their mistake.

Injuries do of course have an effect on a team – and Leicester have had a good run.  Statistics suggest that they will be very lucky to get away with it again next season.

So, maybe, in some trivial way, Untold did have a bit of an effect this season – the Indy has half realised the mistake it has been making for years.  Now if we can only get the press to change their approach to how they write about refereeing, that would be something.

Recent Posts

Untold Arsenal has published five books on Arsenal – all are available as paperback and three are now available on Kindle.  The books are

  • The Arsenal Yankee by Danny Karbassiyoon with a foreword by Arsene Wenger.
  • Arsenal: the long sleep 1953 – 1970; a view from the terrace.  By John Sowman with an introduction by Bob Wilson.
  • Woolwich Arsenal: The club that changed football.  By Tony Attwood, Andy Kelly and Mark Andrews.
  • Making the Arsenal: a novel by Tony Attwood.
  • The Crowd at Woolwich Arsenal by Mark Andrews.

You can find details of all five on our new Arsenal Books page

37 Replies to “What the papers don’t want to say, what they can’t bring themselves to admit”

  1. @tony
    I’ve read untold long enough to remember that the site used to champion this tale of unfortunately high injury levels as being an important (if not the most important) cause of arsenals underachievement. Sadly, you have twisted this to make it 100% the press’ s fabrication. However this article gave me an idea. I typed into Google, the keywords “untold arsenal injury crisis” and I have gotten myriads of articles written by authors of the site, claiming we have a high injury figures, and giving theories, most of which say the refs are allowing our players be kicked to pieces

  2. In Jan 23 2015, you wrote an article “why arsenal have so many injuries: the complete analysis” in which you said “here’s the question: why does arsenal get more injuries than most clubs in most seasons? ” you enumerated your reasons to be
    1. Arsenal play at such pace that lesser teams resort to fouling to stop them.
    2. Refs are reluctant to call the fouls bcos they either want the game to flow or they’ve been bought.
    Note throughout the article, you concede that arsenal have an unusually high amount of injuries. ..
    Also regular posters like Walter, Al, menace totally agreed with the position, with Walter trying to prove that our injuries were less muscular and more impact (kicking induced)

  3. Linking the incorrect reporting for 29(?) years of the unlawful killing of 96 football supporters to the incorrect reporting of Arsenal injuries is tacky, to say the least. Shame on you.

  4. October 7 2014, Walter writes, “the injury crisis is indeed a referee crisis” he says “just as the leaves will fall off the trees each autumn you can be assured that every start of a new season arsenal players are like rabbits in the woods in the hunting season. When the hunting season starts, the hunters can go in the woods and kill the rabbits or whatever they shoot at. And as soon as the football season starts the players of other teams can go out on the field and kick arsenal players. Last year around this time I wrote a similar article and warned that we will get lots of injured players from dangerous tackles and challenges” later in the article you say “you come to the injury crisis at arsenal, people blame all and everyone at arsenal for the injuries, but what about the fact that arsenal players can be kicked all over the place without protection from the referees? ” finally, you said “Last year we compared difference in contact injuries between different teams, and the number of contact injuries of arsenal players was frighteningly high compared to other teams” once again regulars agreeing completely.

  5. I know I’m gonna be banned soon, but there are sooooooooooooooooooooo many articles I think I’ll just post links

  6. I did not expect anybody, repeat “anybody” to return to the discredited Sun article. Nobody else has.

  7. “I am certain that if we would have had the luck with the injuries in the same way as Chelsea, Man City and Liverpool would have had that nobody would and could have taken the title away from us.”..WB may 9 2014

  8. You’ll remember the era when we had lots and lots of injuries seemingly going on for years. We even had the Year of the Seven Left Backs…Tony atwood, April 21 2015

  9. https://bootoomee.com/2014/05/31/why-arsenal-lost-the-league/

    “At the peak of our injury crisis this season, well-meaning Gooners were asking, out of frustration, why we have so many injury cases. Some were coming up with hypotheses on the causes. Walter wrote several pieces on the topic and his final conclusion ended where I have always been on the issue: we get so many injuries because we get kicked a lot due to poor to no protection from the referees. Even cases of relapse occurred because the injuries happened in the first place. Walter, an unpaid writer for a mere fans’ site did a comprehensive and data backed investigation. Our traditional media on the other hand were going with their guts and using innuendoes and stereotypes…” bootoomee, may 31 2014

  10. Whether or not Arsenal have a lot of injuries, isn’t it more to the point that when they get injuries they don’t have sufficient cover? Coquelin and Cazorla for this season spring to mind, but it has been going on for many years.

  11. @col
    Exactly the point of my posts. Untold used to be a strong proponent of the “injury wrecked our season” message. However after wenger did stunts like the non signing of outfield players in the summer, detractors message was ‘how can you claim injury as an excuse when you refuse to get adequate back up. Untold thus had to drop the injury excuse. Where I got pissed is when untold now started carrying the message that it’s been the press fabricating stuff all along, I think that’s the height of dishonesty

  12. Is Arsenal constant high annual Gunners injuries crisis a fabrication or is true?

    I think it’s true. Arsenal Gunners injuries has been at a crisis level for the past 3 season. And this injury crisis is one of the mitigating factors that had slowed down Arsenal title challenge whenever they were on title challenge acceleration.

    This season alone, Arsenal have suffered injury blow to 3 of their key Gunners of, Cazorla, Sanchez and Coquelin which has affected Arsenal team title performance challenge this season beyond repairs.

    Richard Murdoch again! That man should be bad news to the English media. He closed down the News of the World newspaper instead of him to save it when it got itself into a big problem that is not beyond being saved.

    Times and the Sun newspapers staff should be careful of him not to fall into his, do I care what will happen to you if I close the papers down attitude. I hope he doesn’t own the highly respected Guardian newspaper too. And the Telegraph and the Daily Mail papers also.

  13. Upp,
    My understanding of Tony’s injury argument is that we aren’t the team with the worst injury record as purported by the media. Are you contending that you understand it different to me?

  14. YES ! We are finally injury free ! Go Gunners !
    Now to keep the fingers crossed that few , if any from our squad gets picked for the EUROs .

  15. @ UPP, after reading this article and last year articles on injuries, I believe the following but I could be wrong so I await for Tony’s response to your comments.
    1. I think this article refer to this season injury list not prior hence why the thrust of the article refer to this season events and didn’t refer to prior seasons. So my basic understanding of the point made is that this season the media portray Arsenal to have an injury crisis or have the most injuries, and Tony pointing out it’s wrong.
    2. The prior year articles you noted, my understanding is the main point of the articles was to dismiss the allegations that AW was solely to blame for the injuries and that other factors mainly the refs are to blame.
    3. ‘So, maybe, in some trivial way, Untold did have a bit of an effect this season – the Indy has half realised the mistake it has been making for years’. This last paragraph I believe Tony need to clarify. If it refers to prior year reporting from the media as to why Arsenal had so many injuries because the media didn’t do proper investigations and this year they did, then I believe there is no problems with the statement made. However, if the point is in regard to the number of injuries than I believe Tony contradict himself, and you made your point.

  16. When one realises that the “press” are all branches on the same tree(who ever owns them individualy), one realises that they can do no more than follow the instructions of the root of that tree.

    Some Arsenal players are afraid of going in for a tackle and this is truly down to the horrendeous injuries we have had over the past years, the inability of the refs to punish and the reportage of the media on these injuries.

    Like i said many times, the “nice person” in life is always targetted as an easy mark, trust me, i know.

  17. @polo
    Are you referring to the article you intend to write soon? Because surely nobody can deny that in the past few months Tony has been trying to convince everyone that the arsenal injury situation is a myth and that we’ve always been midtable when it comes to injuries.
    The aim of my posts is to show that Tony not only has cunningly made a complete u-turn on the matter in a bid to protect wenger at all costs, but to now pin it all on his favourite scapegoat, the faceless media, is the height of dishonesty

  18. Looks like it’s goodbye to upp then. Never mind, he was good value while he lasted.

  19. @Polo

    Since Arsenal last won the premier league:

    Man City have won it 2 times
    Chelsea have won it 4 times
    Man Utd have won it 5 times
    Arsenal Ladies have won the women’s title 6 times
    Every English League club has changed manager
    …Except Arsenal that is.
    Pep Guardiola retired, became a manager and won 3 league titles
    Took a year out, returned and won 2 more
    Maureen has won 6 league titles
    Zlatan has won 9 as a player
    Facebook was invented, youtube was invented, twitter was invented, the iPhone was invented
    And finally,
    Claudio Ranieri was sacked 5 times, lost to the Faroe Islands, and Joined Leicester
    …and is now 3 points away from this title.
    Guess what has remained the same? Arsenal…that is.

  20. Upp,
    There have been seasons when we have been hit with lots of injuries at the same time. Yes and since 2002 we have had a period where we had most injuries. But over the last years that has improved.

    We have shown that Arsenal had not the most injuries from muscular origin.
    We have shown that Arsenal had more injuries caused by contact than any other team.
    The first you could blame training but then a few other teams are having the same bad training.
    The second is down to not enough protection and tactics from other teams to hit us hard (and that is against the laws of the game)

    Finally this season we didn’t have a lot of injuries but we did have injuries to what can be called the backbone of the team that was the best team in 2015. I mean the CONTACT injuries of Santi and Coquelin. From the moment they fell out we started to suffer a lot.

    That is in short what we have written over the years and this year.

  21. Sorry, I was asleep at the wheel (otherwise known as tax season).

    The referee appointments. We get Mike Jones for Norwich, with Kevin Friend charged with ear whispering.

    Saturday 30 April 2016
    K.O. _MATCHES _ _ _ _ REFEREE _ _ _ ASST. REF. 1 _ _ASST. REF. 2 _ _4TH OFFICIAL
    17:30 Arsenal – Norwich _ _ _ _ _Mike Jones _ _ _ R West _ _ _ M Scholes K Friend
    15:00 Everton – Bournemouth _ _ _Neil Swarbrick _ M McDonough _D Cook _ _J Moss
    15:00 Newcastle – Crystal Palace Mike Dean _ _ _ _S Long _ _ _ S Burt _ _R Madley
    15:00 Stoke – Sunderland _ _ _ _ Craig Pawson _ _ M Mullarkey _H Lennard R East
    15:00 Watford – Aston Villa _ _ _Anthony Taylor _ S Ledger _ _ S Child _ D Coote
    15:00 West Brom – West Ham _ _ _ Lee Mason _ _ _ _D Bryan _ _ _A Fox _ _ M Oliver
    Sunday 1 May 2016
    K.O. _MATCHES _ _ _ _ REFEREE _ _ _ ASST. REF. 1 _ _ASST. REF. 2 _ _4TH OFFICIAL
    14:05 Man Utd – Leicester _ _ _ _Michael Oliver _ G Beswick _ _L Betts _ C Pawson
    16:30 Southampton – Man City _ _ Andre Marriner _ J Brooks _ _ P Kirkup _A Taylor
    12:00 Swansea – Liverpool _ _ _ _Roger East _ _ _ C Hatzidakis A Nunn _ _K Friend
    Monday 2 May 2016
    K.O. _MATCHES _ _ _ _ REFEREE _ _ _ ASST. REF. 1 _ _ASST. REF. 2 _ _4TH OFFICIAL
    20:00 Chelsea – Spurs _ _ _ _ _ _Mark Clattenburg S Beck _ _ _ J Collin _A Marriner

  22. Upp, thank you for your various posts of late, which perhaps I might describe as “vigorous”. I’ve published one of them and I’ll answer it here, but I think that will be enough.

    If you had done your research you will know that in 2011/12 Untold published a weekly index of the injuries sustained by premier league clubs in a considerable amount of depth and concluded that on that one simple measure Arsenal were often high up the charts but not at the top. After that we left the topic, having covered it in detail for one season, before Walter was provided with a very different and extensive array of information on injuries, which contradicted what we had been observing through our weekly articles.

    But it looked interesting and as I say, it was extremely extensive, so we published that, and Walter went on to do some very interesting analyses of the data, even though it contradicted our own work, which seemed to show that Arsenal got the most injuries – something that we had not found ourselves in the single year of doing the detailed weekly analyses. If we had been wrong in our original season-long review, so be it.

    We were under the impression that this enormous set of data to which we had been given an early view would soon be published, but in fact this hasn’t happened – I am not sure why, and as always on all statistical mattrs I have continued to look around for other sources of data, not least because as I have noted, the data we published on that occasion contradicted the data we have collected.

    However Walter was able to analyse out something that we had not seen before – details of the different types of injury, and I think that this remains a unique piece of analysis. My view is that even if there are problems in the comparative data between clubs the analyses of types of injury probably does give us a unique insight into footballers’ injuries.

    But I was always perplexed by the way the data had changed, and so was particularly pleased when two more sources of data came along – Physioroom.com whom we quote in the match previews most weeks, and an analysis published by the BBC which incorporates the number of days missed, number of players involved and the number of players injured.

    Both of these most recent sources are showing that Arsenal is mid-table for injuries much of the time, and actually at the bottom of the table at the moment. And given that one came from the BBC I think it should be taken seriously.

    My own view is that given that the data handed to Walter has apparently now not been published we must now be a little cautious about it, although it has proved a very valuable source of insight into the type of injury sustained as I said. The other three sets of data – the original Untold year long analysis, physioroom and the BBC data all show Arsenal as not being top of the range in terms of injuries, so it is most reasonable to accept these figures as the most likely to be accurate.

    I am sorry that you decided to present your point of view in such a manner as you did rather than raise the question and invite a response – but this is, I guess, the way “debate” sometimes goes on the internet. I have allowed you to have your say, and I have answered you as best I can, but I think we should call it a day at this point. There are of course many other websites around where you can continue your attacks to your heart’s content, but I don’t really want to continue it here.

  23. I just want to say I’m glad that those families that lost loved ones at Hillsborough have finally gotten justice after all these years.

    I came to this site because it holds the same veiw’s as my own but when I read some on the comments on here by people not out to have reasonable difference of opinion but just want to get a rise out of posters it makes me wonder why I even bother and then I realised its because I love Arsenal.

  24. labanoob

    “Guess what has remained the same? Arsenal…that is”

    Fosters Lager. It was piss 12 years ago and it’s piss now.

  25. Arsenal Ladies play tomorrow in Reading (at Reading?).

    In other Ladies news, Arsenal are selling FA Cup tickets for 10 pounds to adults. For every adult ticket, up to 4 youth (age 16 and under) are apparently allowed in free. See Arsenal.com for more details.

  26. Of course I don’t expect to have this published. But ….

    Alway happy to oblige. Oh and by the way “psychophancy” isn’t spelled like that.

  27. Don’t let them get to you, Linda. You love Arsenal – they obviously have other priorities. Who gains most? You, I think!

  28. 3 reasonably key long term injuries this season were clearly caused by physical contact. Debouchy was pushed into the advertising hoardings & ended up with a very long time out, initially with a dislocated shoulder. Wilshere was fouled with a leg breaking tackle that initially was diagnosed as sprained ligaments & then turned out to be a break requiring surgery. Alexis was pushed into a camera pit resulting in injuries that kept him out through a large part of the season. All these were directly related to foul play by opponents. I do not recall any of them called as fouls. This leads me to attribute this to no protection by officials. Some of it is selective vision but inhuman error is a definate. Evil reaction by officials to ignore excess physical force with a result of serious injury.

    ooops! I think it was all a dream & some bright spark with super google expertise can proove it.

  29. > Arsenal Ladies play tomorrow in Reading (at Reading?).

    Wrong! Arsenal played Reading today. Apparently the ladies won 1-2.


  30. @Gord,
    I think in the past you mentioned you are familiar with advanced statistics. I have been working on an upcoming article for Untold, and was wondering if I can email you if that’s the case?

    I wanted to get a second opinion for the stats portion if that’s ok with you please let Tony know so we can start emailing each other.

  31. I suppose some of it is advanced. I know a lot of statistics. Lots I don’t know too. The minor in my master’s degree was statistical mechanics. But sure, I don’t mind looking at it.

  32. Hilarious…was watching my 9 year old play football (actually practice) while talking to a work colleague. Her son was on the other side of the pitch whose coach was wearing an Arsenal sweater under his coat. Afterwards I went over to him to chat football and compliment him on his sweater. He took off his coat and showed me the back where Danny Welbeck had signed…his cousin. So, a work colleague of mine’s son’s coach is Danny Welbeck’s cousin…we’re practically related 🙂

  33. Thanks Gord, I’ll request it from Tony so we can start corresponding about the data.

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