By Bulldog Drummond
Arsenal, as we know, have not done well against Manchester United of late, and no result (not even a gigantic win) is going to gain positives in the media at the moment. The rule is “knock Wenger knock Wenger knock Wenger” just as in almost every newspaper in England the standard approach is “Vote Conservative Vote Conservative Vote Conservative”.
And of course if that is what you believe that seems right; the media is telling it like it is. The notion that the answer might be too simplistic, or maybe even just not right, is not open to debate – at least not in the media.
Thus we have “Arsène Wenger’s decline drains rivalry with José Mourinho of poison” and “Arsène Wenger squeezes sadly into last season’s tactical skinny jeans” and on and on and on. A Mourinho decline in terms of Chelsea? Best not think of that. There is even an article in the Guardian about injuries to the New York Mets which has a link to an article proclaiming that Arsenal have had the most injuries in the past ten years – a statement which is utterly unproven, and not backed up by any stats that I have ever found, although it is regularly quoted.
But let’s turn away from the ceaseless negativity just for a moment and think instead that Alexis Sanchez needs just one goal to register his best-ever return from a single campaign in Europe’s big time leagues. He scored 19 for Barcelona in 2013/14, the same as this season. He is just two goals away from 50 for Arsenal.
Curiously for Manchester United they are now unbeaten in 25, which is their highest ever number in a single season – something Sir F never did. Arsenal of course has gone better, and we call that the “Unbeaten Season”, but that fact is another generally not mentioned.
Indeed there is not much mention anywhere of our beating Man U 3-0 last season – the records as always are picked out to suit the agenda and the current agenda in football, as in politics, is written very clearly for all to see. That result doesn’t fit the agenda, so let’s change the agenda and talk about Wenger v Mourinho instead. When that doesn’t fit any more let’s talk about something else. But never ever analyse why we have a completely different refereeing system from the rest of Europe – one that clearly lays the refereeing system in England open to corruption. That doesn’t mean it is corrupt, but it remains an interesting point, and one that the media completely refuses to examine.
However I digress. We have lost one of the last 15 Premier League home games (W11, D3), that seems to me a fairly decent statistic. And here is an oddball one: the last season in which both Arsenal and Manchester United finished outside the top four was in 1978-79, when they ended seventh and ninth. Rather a long time ago.
There is one other thing to note in the current league table: the teams that have done better away from home, than in their own back yard. These are Manchester City, Manchester United and Crystal Palace. (It is also incidentally why some of us wonder a little about Tottenham’s ability to do their stuff at Wembley. Their record is only six away wins this season – but that is best left for another occasion).
And one more point about our team: Giroud needs just one more goal this season for Arsenal to have three players in double figures for goal scoring this year. I wonder, if that happens, if the Guardian will note that fact, and then compare it with how many other teams have that. Given that the figures for Man U are Ibrahimovic 17, Mata 6, Rashford 5, probably not.
Before the teams, here’s the list of appearances in the league this season before today (numbers after names show the player’s age). The first column gives the position of each player if we just measure the games played, and the second column if we were to put the players in minutes order.
|Game pos||Min Pos||Player||Apps||Mins|
|7||12||Alex Oxlade Chamberlain||27||1443|
|8||7||Granit Xhaka 2||27||2078|
If we just do it by minutes played rather than games Lucas drops out of the 20 and Holding comes in at 20.
Let’s try and guess a team
Gabriel Koscielny Mustafi
The Ox Ramsey Coquelin Monreal
Now that line up leaves these players of note out, excluding those who are not considered, or are injured or recovering.
Ospina, Bellerín, Holding, Gibbs, Elneny, Walcott, Iwobi, Welbeck. I suspect Gibbs will drop out of that list but it could be Walcott.
As for Untold for the rest of the day, I am sorry to say it may be a little while before you hear from us again. Most of us are off to the match (some with a fair distance to travel) and Walter has a family event which means he won’t be able to do the post match review – at least not until quite a while latter.
Sorry about that, but hopefully we’ll be back tomorrow.
Arsenal v Manchester United