by Tony Attwood
It is always interesting in the final week before the season starts to see how the journalists who have made such an absolute and total mess of predicting everything from how the last season will pan out to which team is buying which player, deal with the return of the real thing.
Given their abject failure week after week to analyse, review and predict properly, it is perhaps not surprising that we still get simplistic one liners, the return of “Everything you need to know” columns before each match, and “Five things we learned” after each game.
In any other business (except perhaps economic forecasting) failure on this scale would lead to the employee being shown the exit, but turn on the radio or TV or read the papers and it is the same bunch who failed last year, pontificating once more.
Allow me, if I may, to give one example of their failure before a quick look back to what we learned from the Community Shield. (Did I really say, “what we learned”? Hell, it’s getting at me too.)
There has been a lot of talk this summer about a form of analysis called “Expected goals”, how it works and what it means. It is an interesting mathematical model and in some circumstances it might be useful. And in consider the approach, many writers have referred back to a book called “The Numbers Game” by Chris Anderson and David Sally. It’s front cover sub heading is “Why everything you know about football is wrong”.
The book deals with statistical analysis of football matches, and throughout it makes one huge assumption. Now there is nothing wrong with assumptions in statistical analysis, everyone who uses statistics does it, because when analysing one can’t cover everything in the world. But what we have to do is make our assumptions plain, so that the reader knows what we have assumed.
But The Numbers Game, and all statistical analyses of football thereafter, along with all “analyses” of games in the media make an assumption, which they never ever mention. They assume that refereeing is competent not random, and that there is no bias in the refereeing.
Now that assumption needs to be questioned because of the work the Untold Referees Team did last season in analysing, with video evidence, the first 160 games played in the Premier League, from a refereeing point of view. And do remember these were not just Arsenal games: the team looked at referee accuracy across all PL games in that period. And found it severely wanting.
All of which means that whenever journalists say anything about drawing conclusions we need to ask “what assumptions are you making?” And we find lots of assumptions, but still they go on and on doing the same old same old, making endless mistakes, and assuming on top of everything else that we’ll never notice what a pig’s ear they are making of their job.
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Here’s the five things we “learned” from the charity shield game, according to the Independent.
1: Both managers have work to do before next weekend
Well, yes. You wouldn’t exactly imagine they were going to sit around doing nothing.
2: Lacazette’s class invigorates Welbeck
Ah, the notion that the team is, well, a team, and that they influence each other, and are selected to play to each other’s strengths. That of course is missing from all the transfer gibberish, wherein the players are considered totally as individuals.
3: Wenger still seems unsure of his best formation
Now this one is silly. Moving from a back three plus two, over to a back four after Mertesacker’s injury was an accommodation of the players that we had on the pitch and on the bench. It was done instantly and certainly, and had clearly been practised. If there had been no injury there would have been no change. Besides Mr Wenger said weeks before that he would continue to practise playing a back four because it could be helpful. A better line would have been, “Journalists still seem uncertain how to write “five things” headlines in relation to reality.”
4: Pedro’s rash challenge proves costly
Well, yes. Getting sent off can do that.
5: Conte’s power play backfires – or did it?
Now this one is cheating. If we learned five things we learned five things. You can’t then introduce question marks.
But let’s try one of our own. What did we learned from winning at Wembley six times out of six? Here is a list of the Community Shield games this century, showing where the winners ended up the following season.
|2000||Chelsea||2–0||Manchester United||Wembley Stadium (old)||6th|
|2001||Liverpool||2–1||Manchester United||Millennium Stadium||2nd|
|2003||Manchester United||1–1||Arsenal||Millennium Stadium||3rd|
|2004||Arsenal||3–1||Manchester United||Millennium Stadium||2nd|
|2007||Manchester United||1–1||Chelsea||Wembley Stadium (new)||1st|
|2008||Manchester United||0–0||Portsmouth||Wembley Stadium (new)||1st|
|2009||Chelsea||2–2||Manchester United||Wembley Stadium (new)||1st|
|2010||Manchester United||3–1||Chelsea||Wembley Stadium (new)||1st|
|2011||Manchester United||3–2||Manchester City||Wembley Stadium (new)||2nd|
|2012||Manchester City||3–2||Chelsea||Villa Park||2nd|
|2013||Manchester United||2–0||Wigan Athletic||Wembley Stadium (new)||7th|
|2014||Arsenal||3–0||Manchester City||Wembley Stadium (new)||3rd|
|2015||Arsenal||1–0||Chelsea||Wembley Stadium (new)||2nd|
|2016||Manchester United||2–1||Leicester City||Wembley Stadium (new)||6th|
|2017||Arsenal||1–1||Chelsea||Wembley Stadium (new)|
So out of the 18 playings of the game in the 21st century, we see that the winner ended up in these positions in the league the 17 following seasons (obviously the 2017/18 result is not yet known – not even by the writers of Untold, who know everything.)
- 1st: five times
- 2nd: six times
- 3rd: three times
- 4th: zero times
- 5th: zero times
- 6th: twice
- 7th: once
The most likely follow up for Community Shield winners is to come second. The second most likely is to win the league. Winning the CS and ending up outside the top three has only happened three times in 17 years. A decent omen, and a real bit of statistics. It doesn’t guarantee a result, but it suggests what is likely.
Would you like to know why Chelsea supporters are not the most ideal of companions? We explored this on Untold Arsenal’s Facebook page yesterday: “UntoldArsenalToday” That article was considered the best, and funniest we’ve ever produced. Do take a look, and follow us on Facebook.
- Community Shield : Arsenal – Chelsea 1- 1 Arsenal win on penalties 4-1
- Arsenal v Chelsea. All the media say we’ll lose but don’t worry, it’s not a trophy
- A powerful start to the new season is vital. Or maybe not
And from the Arsenal History Society