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June 2021

Predicting the future is a lot easier when you are certain you know what’s happening.

By Tony Attwood

What is going to happen to Arsenal for the rest of the season?

One of the interesting factors in the recent debate about the management and ownership of the club is that many people do present the view that they not only know what will happen in the next game against Man City, but they know what will happen next season if the management and ownership stays the same.

In such a case these people can use the information and tips of and their own certainty of the error of the ways of the current management and ownership to place their bets.  And if their beliefs are right, I guess they will be making a lot of money.

But what such certainty comes down to is a question of cause and effect.  For people who believe that there is an obvious and direct link between the two in football then making predictions is dead easy.  If for example they believe that Olivier Giroud is thoroughly self-centred and has no desire or ability to work with the team, then if it looks likely that Giroud is going to be picked, that will be another reason to bet against Arsenal.

Such a view might be bolstered by the behaviour of Giroud after scoring against Bournemouth when he did his scorpion celebration.  The press derided that as being very self-centred and some fans went along with that saying that what Giroud should have done was got the ball back to the centre spot for the next kick off very quickly.

But in fact if you follow the timings you will see that when after the previous goal the ball was taken back to the centre, and all the Arsenal players rushed back into their own half, the time taken to kick off after the goal was longer than the time taken to kick off after the scorpion celebration goal.  So reality doesn’t always match emotion.

My view has always been that while it is possible to link some aspects of football together (such as the fact that England has so few qualified coaches per 1000 players, compared with most countries, and relatively few of its players have the experience of playing in other countries) and from that make predictions which can be used in betting on games, this is not always 100% reliable.

Thus we can be certain that England will do poorly in international football, because there is no sign of the massive shortage of top qualified coaches changing.  Indeed the opposite is taking place – the number of qualified coaches per 1000 players is declining in England while it is going up in the rest of the world.

That is a real cause and effect.   But for the punter who “knows” that Theo has never lived up to his expectations, and yet is (for reasons that cannot be explained,) always picked by the manager, will be able to predict a poverty of play down the wing and many missed shots.  But he might not always be right, if his rather simple analysis is wrong.   Someone who believes that how well a player plays is down to a multiplicity of factors will have a harder time making predictions.  Although probably get his predictions right more often.

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I have always felt that the psychology of the players individually, and the social psychology of the squad, are major factors influencing play, and it is interesting to see the growth in the number of people employed by clubs in recent years who work in the social science disciplines.

But of course the media focus only ever on physical injury – and this for two reasons.  One is there is an English tradition of believing that anyone with any form of psychological issue is somehow weak and should pull him/herself together, act like a man, be tough, tell them they get to this to you, etc etc.  The other is that because of this prejudice, clubs utterly refuse to talk about social and psychological issues, so we are left in the dark.

So for people who believe that a new manager could walk in and sweep aside all such issues and get things right, because by and large how to get things right is obvious, there is no problem.  The current regime is useless and Arsenal will lose the game next weekend against Manchester City, and thus the placing of the bet is easy.

For people who acknowledge that (for example) the mental state of the players can have an impact will find it harder to make such judgements (but of course can still place a bet).  The group might come together to take on Man City, the ref, the journalists, and the bloggers and produce a brilliant display.  But then again a lot of anti-Wenger anti-board chanting might make them feel inside that it is hardly worth the effort; even the fans are against the team.

Of course players should never feel that way, but most people have emotions that go up and down, and these are much harder to manipulate by coaches than the physical issues that players face.

On the physical side the situation is easy to see however, as always:

# Club Current total injuries Last man down What did he get?
1 Hull City 9 D Marshall Knock
2 Crystal Palace 8 J McArthur Knock
3 Sunderland 7 L Kone Knee Injury
4 West Ham United 7 P Obiang High Ankle Sprain
5 Southampton 6 M Gabbiadini Groin Strain
6 Manchester Utd 6 C Smalling Knock
7 Liverpool 6 G Wijnaldum Head Injury
8 Everton 5 S Coleman Broken Leg
9 Arsenal 5 P Cech Calf Strain
10 Watford 5 V Behrami Hamstring Injury
11 Bournemouth 5 R Fraser Knee Injury
12 Stoke City 4 G Johnson Shoulder Injury
13 Manchester City 4 P Zabaleta Knock

Here’s the full list of Arsenal men down, as it stands

Player What’s wrong? When he’ll return
K Gibbs Knock April 2, 2017
P Cech Calf Strain April 17, 2017
M Ozil Hamstring Injury No Return Date
L Perez Thigh Strain No Return Date
S Cazorla Plantaris Injury July 1, 2017

So there it is.  The more you believe you know, the easier it is to make predictions, the easier it is to win with the bookies.   I do hope you’ll share around some of the winnings.


8 comments to Predicting the future is a lot easier when you are certain you know what’s happening.

  • John L


    Sorry to learn of Seamus Coleman’s serious injury. Already, the “not that type of player” phrase is being well used.

    Also some hints that Coleman was partly responsible for his own misfortune by being off-balance / not having his weight properly distributed. Also some reports introduced by “Coleman broke his leg”, rather than “Coleman’s leg was broken by an opponent.

    I can only imagine Aaron Ramsey’s reflections, as he was a close witness to the event. However, the perpetrator will serve his international suspension and will be playing again much sooner than Coleman and the real issues involved will again be largely ignored by the media.

  • MickHazel

    John L
    There is an excellent article on Arseblog today refuting the “not that kind of player” nonsense…..

    I wonder what Ramsey’s reaction to Neil Taylor disgusting challenge has been, bearing in mind what he went through as a result of a similar challenge and didn’t apparently accept Shawcross’s apology.

  • Well done Tony. I thoroughly enjoyed reading that. I doubt that everybody will share your perspective though. But then, variety, someone say, is the spice of life.

    I feel really bad for Seamus Coleman’s unnecessary injury. Another potentially career-ending Injury, another indication that this does not belong in football, and that FIFA should look to stamp it out asap. Anyone doing that to a fellow player, should be given a ban as long and as hefty as it takes for the victim to recover. Period. “Not that kind of player” my foot. One of the most gorgeous I justices of the game today. No excuses for this absolutely. I wish Seamus a speedy recovery and a few more years of playing at the top level of the game of football. Shame on Neil and those backing his crim inal act.

  • Gorgeous? Nothing gorgeous about the injury and my feelings while writing this.

  • omgarsenal

    You mean egregious injustices Stan the Man?

  • Stevo

    A more suitable punishment to the perpetrator of these disgusting challenges is to be banned from playing for the duration of the absence of the victim and no wages to be paid either.

  • Leon

    It will never work on any level.Just think about it for a short while.

  • Jared

    We can’t even agree on the level of malice intended if any at all, or the color of the card or severity of foul most of the time. That’s why determining punishment is difficult. Taylor did look like he went over the top of the ball by a pretty fair amount in my opinion. But severe punishment is only possible if you know the offenders true intent. It’s difficult, and history of the offender is a good system if all the games were called the same way, but they’re not. I’ve said for years that a second full referee would be helpful, one for each side of the field, with one referee at the halfway line and one at the touch line, trading places as the ball moves from one side of the field to the other. Video technology would also be helpful. Such a shame for Coleman, good player. Chalk up another serious injury from a pointless qualifier or friendly.