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March 2021

The strange fantasy world inhabited by some who comment on Arsenal

By Tony Attwood

I realised from the very start of Untold that I would learn a lot from reading the comments made by readers.  But what I didn’t realise was that I would find therein a whole group of people who run their lives in a way so very different from mine that I can’t actually think of a word to describe how they see the world.

That’s not to say they are wrong and I am right – not at all.  Maybe I am living in a fairy tale land and everyone else is part of a mainstream reality I can’t get into.  But that’s not so much the point: it is that through football I have come to understand that there are people who see the world in a way so different way from me, that communication can’t actually happen.

What brought this home was a Manchester City supporter recently commenting that I couldn’t comment on something Man City were doing because I didn’t condemn Arsenal when they were doing the same thing in the past.

Now maybe I was doing the usual supporter thing of seeing the world through Arsenal coloured glasses.   But even if that were so, (and the heading of Untold is “from an Arsenal perspective”) how does that affect the reality of the issue I am reporting?

For example, if I went out and stole £100 from a Manchester City supporter, but then later saw a Manchester City supporter stealing £100 from a Celtic supporter, that would not make the Man City’s supporters actions right.  My duty would still be to report him to the police.  It doesn’t exonerate my actions earlier, of course, but the Man City fan’s actions are also still wrong.

That all seems quite obvious to me.

Here’s another one: the assertion that no one who writes for Untold lives in England and goes to Arsenal matches.  Two questions arise: one, how do you know, and two, does it matter?  Walter, as he openly says, gets to about six games a year, and I am utterly in admiration of the fact that he does this, what with the 3am leaving time from Antwerp to do the journey.

But does the fact that he sees most matches on TV, take away his ability to write interesting and entertaining articles about Arsenal and football?  I can’t see that – and that point leaves aside the fact that several of us are season ticket holders.  Indeed time and again I exchange the thought with those who sit next to me at the Ems that “I need to see that again on Match of the Day” to know exactly what happened.

Then there was the comment – which again takes us back to Man City – which called the Court of Arbitration for Sport a “kangaroo court”.  It was an interesting point, but without an explanation as to how or why the CAS could be so called, we’re not much further on.

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Here’s another – and these all come from the last week or so: “You don’t need a psychologist to know that…”    The piece in a national newspaper was about the mindset and attitude of some players, and since it was to do with the individual’s minds, I would have thought a psychologist was exactly what you needed.

The implication is that specialists are now no longer valid or needed.  The world is so obvious that we don’t need experts.   (Back to the British decision to leave the EU – “the country has had enough of experts.”)

OK – so when my tooth aches I’ll pop to the dog trainer who lives next door and ask him for help.  When my computer goes wrong I’ll ask the guy who comes round once a year to look after the trees in my garden.  Hmmm, not sure of that one.

So we are back to my old bugbears – the “evidence of my own eyes” and “You can prove anything with statistics”.  The evidence of my own eyes shows me that Arsenal lost to Liverpool and beat Bournemouth, but it doesn’t immediately tell me why.  I have an impression from watching the games, but I feel the need for more analysis.

Certainly, as I mentioned in the earlier piece today, some people think that Granit Xhaka is a problem in the Arsenal team, but the figures in terms of passing show something quite different.  Now it is possible to argue that passing is not enough, that Xhaka should be doing more, and that’s fair enough, we can have a debate on that.  But the figures are much more information than impressions.

Xhaka is one of the best players Arsenal have. He completed a high-profile transfer to Arsenal in May 2016 for a fee of £30 million. Arsenal has a huge fan following around the world. And bookies love to bet on Arsenal on these best betting apps. Although, Arsenal’s record this season so far is not good (with 2 wins and 2 losses out of 4 games played and 11th in table standings), but they have all the potential to come back strong.

So just saying Xhaka was poor, without any statistical evidence?  No, no help at all.  If I want to find out what is making my tooth ache, I go to an expert.  If I want to make sure my car is legally maintained, and is not likely to breakdown or suffer a major failure while I’m doing 70mph on the motorway, I ask a qualified mechanic.

And that’s what makes me wonder about the people I criticise here.  Do they really take their car to be serviced by the vet?

As I said the other day, all the pundits the media put out to comment on Arsenal’s management have either never been managers, or when they were managers they failed.  I give Merson and Adams full marks for having the guts to have a go at management, but I give O’Leary higher marks for having tried management, made a cock up of it, and then decided to stay quiet (most of the time).


28 comments to The strange fantasy world inhabited by some who comment on Arsenal

  • Goonermikey

    I can’t wait for some of the people you mention to need open heart surgery but insist on telling a bloke down the pub to do it because they both watched a documentary once and that makes them completely capable.

    A couple of other things for me this weekend. The idea Man U are brilliant despite having fewer shots against Stoke than we did ……..and we were trounced by Stoke….apparently.

    But worse is the BBC article by Phil McNulty saying that, “Liverpool’s 5-0 loss to Man City must be put in context”. He goes on to make several attempts to suggest, it wasn’t that bad. And his defence seems to be based upon the “fact” that, “Liverpool deserved every bouquet that was thrown in their direction after their destruction of Arsenal – in fact, perhaps they did not get enough credit.” He mentions also the “the champagne football that swept Arsenal aside”. He goes on to make several more references to Arsenal.

    So let’s get this straight, I think we all agree Arsenal were abysmal against Liverpool…..even the media agree that. But apparently it wasn’t that at all, it was because Liverpool were brilliant………apparently.

    Let’s also explore the logic a little further, Arsenal are in crisis (still) because of one 4-0 defeat but Liverpool are brilliant despite a 5-0 defeat. Well that’s straightforward.

    But by far the worst thing for me was the way Lineker and Savage both came straight out and said Mane shouldn’t have been sent off. So the leading BBC “experts” public demonstrate their inability to understand the rules. Then we subsequently have the ‘more learned’ ex-footballers who come out and say “by the letter of the law he should have been sent off”…………but it’s a bad law and they would have all done the same. Jeez, so what they’re all saying is that we should allow action that could have easily fractured a guy’s skull and left him brain damaged…….. because it was a 50/50 ball. Really? These blokes are losing the plot. Of course we want a physical aspect to the game and there will inevitably be unavoidable injuries but to suggest the laws should not protect players from extremely serious injuries is both stupid and irresponsible. They have basically said to every young player in this country “you should fly in with your feet at head height” if there’s a chance you might get the ball irrespective of whether it’s quite possible you’ll hospitalise someone. Unbelievable.

  • Ray from Norfolk, Virginia

    I am supporting from the colonies, and I am offended that people rank me as a second class supporter. If a Man City supporter is commenting from Dubai or any other location in the UAE, he would still be a supporter.
    I think some are upset with Xhaka because he has misplaced more passes than Arteta. Nonetheless, he had two assists against Leicester City. I am sure the boss and his assistants will work with him on this issue.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Funny that you mentioned David O’Leary , as over the weekend I met two old friends and bantering about our teams .
    The Liverpool fan was comeserating with the Leeds fan regarding their present plight , and could not resisting to comment that it was all O’ Leary’s fault !
    That it was spending all that fucking money for a brief and fleeting chance at success that had done them in.

    No mention of Risdale at all.
    Sigh !

  • Scuba

    Pointing it out again since you mentioned Xhaka’s passing again…he’s at 82% this season, good for 12th (11th if you rule out Ox) among Arsenal players. I have no idea where you’re getting your passing figures (or even to what figures you’re referring), but the stats don’t paint a pretty picture for Granit thus far.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    I believe that there are many alleged Arsenal fans that may have lost millions in betting on a sure thing that AW would be the first managerial casualty of the season.
    I offer no evidence , but soley rely on my expert knowledge of these things.
    My tip is that a former Palace player who is a fuck all pundit will be next in line. Of course he has no credentials but did train his two stepsons in his own garden and who played in the EPL.
    Bet on it !

  • Akan

    Said it before and I’ll say it again “You do not need facts or statistics to form an opinion” because “opinions” do not have to be right they are the construct of my personal view and my personal analysis from wherever I am watching the game. These days that’s usually in a bar with friends somewhere in the Caribbean.

    Xhakha and Ramsey together are a luxury in Arsenals midfield. Against clubs such as Bournemouth and the newly promoted teams they do look good and their statistics appear quite impressive, but when up against any of the top flight outfits their shortcomings are cruelly exposed as was shown at Liverpool just over a week ago. The basic problem is, Ramsey goes walkabout looking for glory, whenever he gets the ball he seems obsessed with the idea that he has to do something impressive so he can read about himself in the following after match press reports thereby neglecting the core discipline’s of his role to the detriment of the team. Xhakha’s problem is that he excellent in one aspect of his role, he is a superb long range passer, however he is not athletic enough for the fast pace of the modern game. He can’t run and his tackling is so poor he seems to be only making half hearted attempts at the job. When faced with speedy high quality opponents he will struggle badly everytime. He was not worth 35 million, with those two in the midfield we cannot build a base to launch a successful attempt at the title, one goes missing leaving the other one to get run over by the opposition. These are my opinion’s admittedly they are formed while watching on television with a fresh rum coconut in one hand and a bikini clad nubian lady on the other. What do you think?

  • John L

    Everyone is entitled to hold and express a view, however ill-informed. I do, however, object to such people being given a prominent media platform from which to pronounce their views, especially when they are plainly nonsense.

    The red-card debate around the Mane incident is just the most recent example of pundits talking rubbish. Mr. Gary Neville,(after abandoning his role as an unsuccessful coach / manager) even managed to turn it into yet another attack on Arsenal by recalling the collision between Ospina and Pedro (for which the former was penalised – clearly the wrong decision !!! and for which the latter was not sent off – clearly yet another wrong decision according to this particular “expert”.) – More shite talked like “the ball was there to be won”, “he was entitled to go for it”,”the keeper was responsible because his head was in the way of Mane’s boot”, “he was looking at the ball”, “he didn’t mean it” etc. The only cliché which I didn’t hear was “he’s not that type of lad”

  • Polo

    ‘his tackling is so poor he seems to be only making half hearted attempts at the job.’

    Maybe he’s traumatized because the ref keep showing him the red card even if it was a minor tackle.

  • Vivek Arulnathan


    I didn’t see any reference to the stats you used to declare “This is the same Granit Xhaka who so far this season is the top rated passer in the PL this season” in your article about the criticism of Xhaka.

    But I think he has been poor for the three games I watched this season and as if right on cue, 7amkickoff: one of the best Arsenal blogger based on stats, dropped this. I hope you have a look and let me know what stats drove you to declare Granit the best in the league.

  • Vivek Arulnathan

    Here is an extract from the link relating to Xhaka’s performances

    “72.6 – Pass completion rate for Granit Xhaka (joint lowest of any Arsenal outfielder other than Kolasinac.)

    Xhaka only completed 53/73 passes, meaning he misplaced 20 passes on the day. Many of those bad passes were on breakaways and counters and thus contributed to Arsenal’s low, 80% pass completion rate. Xhaka’s completion rate was the lowest of any outfield player (tied with Kolasinac) and was just above Cech’s 50%.

    This stat is one to watch over the season. Wenger seems set on playing with a sort of single pivot with Xhaka in the base. This is similar to how Wenger played with Arteta and I’ve long thought Xhaka’s passing rage and ability should be compared to the lego-haired Spaniard. But Xhaka absolutely cannot give the ball away 20 times a game if he’s going to take on that role. In Arteta’s final full season with Arsenal (2013/14) he misplaced a grand total of 170 of his 1982 attempted passes (includes both long and short passes). That’s an average of just 5.5 per game. Xhaka has already misplaced 64 passes this season, an average of 16 per game.

    When Xhaka came to Arsenal, he averaged 12 misplaced passes per game and I had hoped that this was just a matter of him playing in a system and with teammates where passing wasn’t held in such high regard (counter attacking systems tend not to worry as much about possession). And this seemed right; in his first season at Arsenal, he averaged just 7.2 misplaced passes per game. But this season he’s looked sloppy and it’s really hurting the team.”

    And I hope you respond to this. What stats was your declaration that Xhaka’s best or top rated in the league based on? When you are criticising people for having a go at Xhaka for poor performances because they didn’t give stats, I would like to know what you think of “these stats”.

  • Jax

    “Here’s another one: the assertion that no one who writes for Untold lives in England and goes to Arsenal matches”.
    As you say, Walter does indeed get to a few matches a season, so his opinions are always welcome & valid.
    My own issues are with a couple of other distance ‘supporters’ who regularly write articles on UA. One in particular (an ex referee who’s never been to an Arsenal game in his life and probably never will) takes pride in policing this blog to the extent of rudely insulting match going UK supporters by criticising their grammar and instructing them on how to…. err….support the club they’ve been supporting since they were children. He usually tells them to eff off from UA & go to another blog, and all of this from Canada. That he gets support in this from the diagonally opposite side of the world (by another UA writer) is something of a mystery.
    Apart from that I’ve no problems with overseas writers or commenters.

  • Scuba

    In all honesty, I find that much of the best blog material out there is written by non-season ticket holding fans. The analysis is typically more thoughtful, and open to ideas that don’t fit a general narrative of the site. I really don’t care if the writer is American, Indian, Belgian, English, or Chilean. As long as the analysis is good, I’ll read and enjoy it.

  • Gord

    OT: Rosicky scores again

    Jeorge Bird (famous for Arsenal youth insight) has apparently noticed that Mesut Ozil had the highest observed running speed of any Arsenal player in that particular game, at 33.34 km/hr.

    Grizzly bear: 34.8 mph
    Polar bear: 40 km/hr
    Black bear: 25 mph

    Oh, if you find yourself trying to outrun any of these bears, the polar bear has the worst endurance, only being able to keep its speed for 1 mile. The other two bears can carry their speed for 2 miles.

    Apparently the hyper-twit Piss Mrgan has over 6 million twits that follow him/it.

  • Gord

    I see an article mention that Koscielny is banned form playing Thursday, due to a red card he obtained against Bayern Munich. Pitty.

  • Akan

    Arteta’s first season and a half were very good he was effective because he had the presence of Song to protect him, once that protection had gone he was exposed when Ramsey became his pivot partner our opponents just ran through around and over him, it was quite painful to watch as we had no effective midfield when he was on the pitch against the top opposition. Yet Wenger kept playing him even made him captain because he was one of his favourites. Fast forward and we can see the same thing is happening with Xhakha, even the idea of making him captain is being flirted with. I’m afraid the results will be the same.

  • dats

    Spot on Tony. Sorry must dash – I’ve got to pop down the pub for a loaf of bread!

  • Pat

    Gord, you have made my night with that great article about Rosicky and the video of his goal – shown again and again! One of my favourite ex Arsenal players.

  • Gord

    Glad you liked it Pat!

  • Pat

    Some people in their comments are just picking on players again. Haven’t you learned yet that the way to improve people is to encourage them and support them, not moan about them? Some of these players were player of the month not long ago. They haven’t suddenly become useless.

    Support the team, for heaven’s sake. Let the players and the manager and coaches work on things that need improvement. They know a lot more about it than you do. Hard as it is to accept.

    On Saturday I was sitting next to someone who just kept shouting ‘Long ball, long ball’ all the time. It was very annoying. And it was ridiculous because most of the time such long balls as there were were going to members of the opposing team.

    Can’t we just accept that the manager and the players might know better than us?

  • Menace

    11/09/2017 at 3:33 pm
    Do you have any issues with the overseas shareholders, manager, players, seamstresses, manufacturers of kit, bidders for TV rights & yours truly who as a season ticket holder sees some games live before retiring to the sunny shores where every match is broadcast live & returns to see the last few matches as well as cup finals etc?

  • omgarsenal

    Jax……feeling out of sorts are we?

    1)My own issues are with a couple of other distance ‘supporters’ who regularly write articles on UA….I suggest that you are dealing with MANY serious issues other than Canadians writing on UA. Do try and remember that the vast majority of UA and Arsenal supporters are ¨distance¨ ones.
    I am also a trained psychologists and see a lot of angst and anger in your writing!

    2)One in particular (an ex referee who’s never been to an Arsenal game in his life and probably never will)….so that is my sin and you maintain that you know my future? Well you’re wrong on both points as I did see AFC play the MSL all-stars 2 seasons ago and in the future hope to see the Emirates and AFC play there.

    3)takes pride in policing this blog to the extent of rudely insulting match going UK supporters by criticising their grammar and instructing them on how to…. err….support the club they’ve been supporting since they were children…..I don’t insult other people,supporters or UK fans or whatever and whether you go to a live match has nothing to do with the quality of analysis one can offer having watched the game live or on TV, like I do. As far as my criticism of others syntax and grammar, the degeneration of native English-speaker’s capacity to write comprehensible English is a concern to me. What’s wrong with that? Are you proud to write like a 1st grade child or happy to communicate poorly?

    4)He usually tells them to eff off from UA & go to another blog, and all of this from Canada. That he gets support in this from the diagonally opposite side of the world (by another UA writer) is something of a mystery…..What for me is a mystery is your antipathy to me being a referee which allows me to have a different perspective on football, falsely accusing me of USUALLY telling people to ¨eff off¨,and questioning why I receive support from any UA writer. Your geography, like your writing also needs a bit of improvement since Montréal is NOT diagonally opposite from anywhere in Britain.

    I have written over 50 articles for UA and like Walter (another foreigner and a lucky referee who has the opportunity to see an occasional AFC match live)enjoy supporting the manager,the players and the team, regardless of your jingoistic and childish attempt to judge and vilify me.
    Here’s a challenge for you since you’re such a judge of who is fit to support Arsenal and who is not:try writing an article on UA and we can discuss the merits of your viewpoint but my guess is that we’ll be waiting a long time before that happens, if ever.
    If being a true supporter requires that one sees Arsenal live then I am guilty as charged. What I abhor are the aaa internet cowards who use the anonymity of the net to snipe at others and demean the Club they supposedly love whenever things aren’t going to their satisfaction. If you enjoy their company then you deserve each other whether its at LeGrovel, another anti-Arsenal website or on UA!

  • Nitram


    “But worse is the BBC article by Phil McNulty saying that, “Liverpool’s 5-0 loss to Man City must be put in context”.

    He goes on to make several attempts to suggest, it wasn’t that bad. And his defence seems to be based upon the “fact” that, “Liverpool deserved every bouquet that was thrown in their direction after their destruction of Arsenal – in fact, perhaps they did not get enough credit.””

    Lets be honest Goonermikey it was as predictable as finding sand in a desert.

    This is what I said straight after the match on Saturday:


    09/09/2017 at 7:41 pm

    “The agenda at Sky Sports, or more accurately throughout the media in general is to paint Arsenal in a negative light no matter what, which explains the inevitable ‘flat track bullies’ comment we have seen already today.

    I wager they’ll be a more positive light cast on Liverpool following there ‘drubbing’ at the hands of City than there will be us following our win.”

    Lets be honest, it wasn’t exactly a prediction of ‘Mystic Meg’ proportions was it?

    And we still have those that claim we all get treated the same in the media. Our own fans shit on our club more than the media do on any other club.

    We have supposed supporters that go to extreme lengths just to ‘prove’ how bad certain players are, how bad our manager is, and how bad our club is run. Pointing at this, that and the other stat, whilst completely ignoring the stat that says we’ve won 6 trophies in 4 years, whilst others they seem to admire so much have won as little as 1 trophy in ten years.

    It would be laughable if it wasn’t so damaging. You only have to listen to certain posters that insist on stinking out the place, to realise how this anti Arsenal propaganda turns them into brainwashed idiots, to see the negative effect it has.

  • MickHazel

    Go back to the Bayern Munich match when we were 1-0 up (would have probably been 2-0 if not for the referee) and then had Kos sent off and eventually lost. We were given the normal enormous amount of stick for the 5-1 scoreline with no regard for the fact of being down to ten men and having to commit to attack, that being the only option given the situation we were in. We were not aloud to use the sending off as an excuse or reason for the scoreline. What a contrast to the sympathetic media reaction to the Liverpool 5-0 drubbing.
    But there is no bias against Arsenal according to some. Do me a favour.

  • para

    For me, commenting is a sort of “reasoning” where we are all supposed to use all of the information to create the most valid theories.

    Instead we(me included) are sometimes fighting and defending our opinion although we all know it can only really be relative to us.

    Still, i do learn a lot from all the different opinions, many times become aware of things that i did not know, many times saw a view point that i had never even considered and so on, so it is rewarding for me in every way. 🙂

  • Goonermikey

    @ Nitram

    I didn’t see your comment on Saturday and you’re correct, it wasn’t of meg like proportions. What is annoying though is the fact that I still get annoyed by the predictable………….. 🙂

  • Nitram


    Brilliant point. The contrast is there for all to see.

    You’d think, with such an example we’d have all the media apologist at least conceding that you, me and others, at least have a point, but guess what?

    Apart from me not a word. Zip. Nada. Nothing.

    But you mark my words, someone, somewhere, on this very blog, will be calling us all paranoid sometime soon.

    The thing is my friend, as they ignore or deride every trophy we win. As they demean every victory we achieve.

    It seems nothing we do, nothing we say, no matter how much evidence we produce, is going to change them.

    They have dug their hole so deep with there bile and hatred of all things Arsenal that it has become impossible for them to acknowledge anything in a positive light.

    Pathetic and sad.

  • Nitram


    “What is annoying though is the fact that I still get annoyed by the predictable.”

    The fact is Gooner, the more predictable it is, the more annoying that actually makes it. You know, like a running joke, but in the opposite way.

    Take grumpy old Victor Meldew saying ‘I Don’t believe it’. The more he said it, the more you could see it coming, the funnier it became.

    Similarly, the more predictable their bollocks, the more you know it’s coming, the more annoying it is.

    So as you say, despite knowing it’s coming it still riles. That being said, as much as I do get annoyed with the media, it’s the supposed Arsenal fans that meekly swallow their every word that really piss me off.

    I have been saying for years that it is a concerted effort by the media to undermine Arsenal football Club, and thanks to our gullible fans that is exactly what they seem to be doing.