How Arsenal’s win v Watford was re-written to fit with an alternative reality

By Marianna Trench, our in depth investigator

What anyone reading a report of a match in a newspaper or on a blog has to realise is that football reports contain a lot of editing.  And the editing is not so much of the copy that is published, but of the reality that preceded it.    

“Arsenal should have had a penalty.  Lacazette complains that he has not had one” reads the minute by minute account.

“Cut that.”  The sports editor is definitive taking the decision within a second.

“It will be on Match of the Day,” replies one hack.

“Then they are wrong,” the editor shouts.   “Arsenal are ‘somewhat fortuitous’.  Have you got that?  Do I have to spell it out?  There was no penalty claim, we don’t even debate it.   It did not happen.   It is not even an issue to be considered.  It simply was not an incident.  Nothing happened.  There was no appeal.  The ref did not make an exaggerated hands down sweep outward.  This is not part of  reality.”  Words from the report are removed.  There was no penalty claim.

“Boss?” one of the younger scribblers tentatively raises a hand.  The big man scowls.

“Arsenal were second-best for much of the game, conceding some clear-cut chances to Watford while squandering the few that came their way,” ventures the cub.

Slowly, very slowly, a smirk crosses the face of the big man.  It moves slowly because there is a lot of face to cross.  “I like this lad,” he says.  “Go to it boy.”

The story is changed.  There was no foul, no penalty call.  The Lacazette chance was there but was in fact “squandered”.  Arsenal were second best even though it didn’t look that way to a lot of people there.

And so it continues.  Arsenal don’t win by design, they have a victory thrust upon them by chance, while all the time trying not to win.  Had it been left to their own planning Arsenal would have lost.

When Cech is injured the editor shouts, “That is an enforced changed.  There’s no planning.  Arsenal were forced to do that.”

So Leno coming on because of the “enforced change” means that anything Leno then did was not part of good planning, but purely fortuitous.   That he could make  two important saves to “keep Arsenal in the game” (as the hacks say) is chance.  Lucky Arsenal.  If Cech had been on the pitch he would have missed them.

In this contrary reality Arsenal are not learning, for this was not the first time this season that they have taken all three points by being forced to win by circumstance, despite being less than convincing, and neither is it the first time that Emery’s changes have made a significant impact. 

And the point of this is clear.  Emery is a manager who is completely incapable of getting it right first time.  That’s the point.  He doesn’t know what his best team is.

Indeed there is so much luck going on here we really do have to face the possibility that voodoo is at work – and certainly there is cheating.  There used to be a camera pointing at Wenger on the bench making the claim about his long coat and long face.    But Emery is wearing a sharp suit and is energetic.   It is a ploy so that the camera can’t follow him.  Same old Arsenal always cheating.

Laughingly Match of the Day produced a heatmap of the technical area, but it was all one colour because Emery moved about a lot.  The presenters laughed.  It was a joke.  But the next day the press are reporting the heatmap of the tech area as if it is serious.

Meanwhile Mr Emery is not to be called Mr Emery, but “The Spaniard” because all good Englishmen know about perfidious Spaniards.   “We showed passion today,” he says, so the praise immediately switches to the one Englishman in the back four who was calm and controlled.  Rob Holding is a star not because of his performance (which was excellent) but because he was cool.  If he’d been a foreigner Arsenal would have lost.

“Let us not forget the Spaniard has a huge task on his hands,” says the Telegraph.  Adding, “it was never a simple job to replace Wenger after the Frenchman had revolutionised the club two decades ago, turning them into serial winners and the most stylish team in the country.”   Spaniard, Frenchman… just remove these people’s identities and cast them in a national stereotype.  Do they do this with cricketers from Pakistan?  No of course not.  Just Arsenal. 

And blimey, was  that praise of Wenger?  No because “Those traits had long gone by the time Wenger departed, and Emery has to change a culture of underachievement.”

But what they don’t point to is that it is only underachievement when compared with the extraordinary heights that Arsenal reached under Mr Wenger.   For the Telegraph, Wenger becoming the manager who won more FA Cups than anyone else, and Arsenal becoming the team that won more FA Cups than anyone else, and Arsenal becoming the team that played in the Champions League for more consecutive years than any club other than the state financed Real Madrid was “under achievement”.

As for Ramsey, he didn’t so much go off, but was “hooked” – a new word for substituted.  Not used on any other team, just Arsenal.   Mesut Ozil took over as captain – an interesting point.  Shall we dwell on that?  No, instead we get, “Ramsey is in the final year of his current contract, talks have stalled and with Liverpool interested in him, the player could be following Alexis Sanchez out of the club.”

Oh really?  I never knew that.  And shall we mention that Arsenal got the better deal out of the Alexis swap?  No best not.

And does the report have anything to do with the match?  Not that I can see.

You can read how the report finally appeared in the national press here.

16 Replies to “How Arsenal’s win v Watford was re-written to fit with an alternative reality”

  1. Well no matter how bad they are, they write better stuff than this shit, that’s for sure.

  2. A perfect interpretation of the day to day fiction written about our Club.

    Harry is obviously a fiction fan. Ah bless.

    Who’s going to tell him that Father Christmas isn’t real either?

  3. I think the most important thing in the game for Arsenal to continuing with doing it this season is, they should continue to be beating teams in the PL and in other competitions too as they are currently been doing of rrecent this season. Once they continue to do this, all the anti-Arsenal journalists will back done in their undue and unwarranted write ups against Arsenal.

  4. “It never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn’t happening. It didn’t matter”

    Said Harold Pinter,when reflecting upon how the failed novelists and writers amongst the heavily politicised news corps. get their kicks along with their pay cheques.

  5. For anyone who’s interested there’s a lovely tribute to Wenger on as well as the top 10 goals during his reign, and what a magnificent crop of goals they are.

    I pretty much agree with the list although it does leave one of my favourites out which is Reyes goal against Middleborough in the famous 5 -3 comeback victory at Highbury.

    There are some wonderful quotes from Wenger including the ‘Football should be an art’ one, as well as the following from his early days:

    “When you are at Arsenal everybody wants to beat you even if you are not double winners.

    We know if we are at our best we can beat everybody so lets just be concerned about our way of playing and not too much about what other people think about us.”

    A philosophy he held to the last and that bought us 3 Premier leagues, a record 7 FA Cups, a record number of champions league qualifications, as well as his greatest achievement, the invinsibles.

    A run of success surely only interrupted by the financial restraints of building a new stadium and the arrival of the Billionaire sponsors.

    That all makes this recent comment from Paul Merson look all the more ridiculous:

    “At United, there’s a structure and they say ‘let’s not get beat first and then go from there’. That’s why I think he’s finding it difficult. At Arsenal, it was free-flowing but it wasn’t successful, they didn’t win anything.”

    “Wasn’t succesful”

    What an idiot.

    Similar to this regarding going through a season unbeaten in the League:


    “It’s not impossible as A.C. Milan once did it but I can’t see why it’s so shocking to say it. Do you think Manchester United, Liverpool or Chelsea don’t dream that as well? They’re exactly the same. They just don’t say it because they’re scared to look ridiculous, but nobody is ridiculous in this job as we know anything can happen”.

    The media labasted him and one comidian infamously dubbed him ‘commical Wenger’. There is a clip of Wenger holding a T shirt somebody passed him with that infamous put down printed on it, shuving it right back down there throats.

    Anyway, watch the tribute, it’s lovely, and if you are anything like me it will bring a tear to your eye.

    Yes we’ve moved on but what Wenger did for our club’s long term future is literally beyond measure, and the moments of pure joy he and his brilliant teams gave us will live forever in the memory.

    Thanks again Arsene and good luck with whatever you do next.

  6. I agree with the sentiments of the author. It was a strangely comfortable game despite the open play. Most notably, despite Watford having 3 or 4 very good chances, they seemed to come out of the blue. Often they would have the ball and try to play it into the box only for Arsenal to calmly take it away. Arsenal, too, had their chances but they seem to have been forgotten.

  7. When other teams score late winners, it’s called ‘character’ ‘made of steel’ but when Arsenal does it it’s labeled as ‘lucky’. No media bias though.

  8. these dummies wouldn’t know what hit them, just like they didn’t in 96
    suffice to say one suggested Torreira should have been sent off instead of Deeney

  9. All of the above is interesting reading, about Arsenal actually not being lucky, but well prepared. However, in the Big Picture, the often drab, error prone performances of the Emery Arsenal have had an affect in the US.

    NBCSN, who cover and show the EPL over here, have managed to drop Arsenal from their TV coverage recently.

    Instead of Arsenal vs Watford, they showed, Spurs, Man City, Man Utd and Chelsea vs Liverpool on TV (which I can understand).

    Arsenal have been consigned to the NBCSN pay per view web site.

    What is more, there is no coverage of the Europa League, and scant coverage of the Champions League this year.

    Emery had better buck up his ideas and get the team playing intelligent football, I cannot take a full year of NO Arsenal on TV

  10. @ Nitram – 01/10/2018 at 12:50 pm – It was a lovely tribute to the greatest Arsenal manager , and a fine gentleman .
    Hope he is enjoying his break , and writing his memoirs . It’ll be sensational and the truth will be finally revealed.

  11. Of course I don’t see North American football, living in Europe, but I do know that in Europe it is not performances that affect who is shown on TV but audience numbers and the station’s message. If they want to show a failing Man U rather than a winning Arsenal it is because of audience numbers surely, not because of the style of play.

  12. Luck, good and bad is from factors outside of your control.
    it is not ‘lucky’ for your keeper to make a great save, or a striker to score a great goal, that is what they train to do.
    What is lucky or not, is when the ref makes a bad decision, we should of had a penalty in both those last two matches, both at 0-0, we may of not gone on to win either games, but we had bad ‘luck’ in both games.
    But then again, when it comes to officiating Arsenal games, luck doesn’t come into it !!

  13. What a shame that Mr.Barracuda should comment as a member of the media. I suppose even those who are wrong have opinions. I was not surprised to see the lack of mention Regarding Deeny’s late challenge on Torreria. Clearly a sending off as a second yellow offence, however being against us with Mr. Anthony Excuse on the whistle, play on was all his little mind could conceive as reaction to the situation. No doubt it is all part of the 100% + accuracy that the mighty Pigmob deliver every single game. I feel a reflection of the refereeing was best given when a pair of match commentators discussed the lack of appeal from our players. Whilst they wondered why there was so little questioning by the Arsenal players, we as supporters knew that our players would just see it as a waste of time and energy and did not want to get mugged as the wayward whistler allowed play to continue with a hope of getting the opposition a less cluttered route to goal. Being the good goldfish they are, all is forgotten so that they can continue to attend the matches for free with their sweaty little palms around their compliant little bitch press passes. One day the journalists will rise again and the truth shall be reported. For now we have to deal with the scribble of the dull wage worms that do their job instead.

  14. Luck can be involved in a striker scoring a great goal. Turbulence (such as from a downdraft) is not visible, but can affect the path a ball takes. Especially if the distance is a bit longer. When striker plants his foot to start his kick at the ball, he/she could slip or twist a little which would influence the path the ball takes. Deflections and some kinds of hitting the woodwork involve ball paths that could not be anticipated by the striker.

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