By Tony Attwood
There is a strange stat that truly is worth of Ron Manager doing the rounds to the effect that Arsenal hasn’t been ahead at half time this season in the League. In a Sky Sport piece that is titled “Your PL season in a stat” that is the headline story. And yet it is a curious statistic because it doesn’t seem to influence anything. There are no points for a half time lead, and if the situation were different and we scored goals in the first half rather than the second half, it wouldn’t take us further up the table.
Although I am a great lover of statistics, it seems to me that this is the sort of statistic we should always be wary of since it is one that makes no odds at all. We can have stats that really tell us something (most obviously how many points we have and where we are in the league) and stats relating to goals for and goals against, since these influence how many points we get, and can indicate in the broadest sense which part of the team is working well and which not, but which half we score in????
An alternative approach to our progress could come by looking at the players who are up and coming and could make it in the future. We have touched on this before of course because it is such a promisiing area at the moment.
Julio Pleguezuelo came in for a league cup game and Emile Smith Rowe has already started breaking through in games. We’ve got Maitland-Niles already established, along with Guendouzi, who although a transfer in, is still only 19 and was incredibly low priced given his talen.
Joe Willock is yet to explode on the scene, but he could well follow the footsteps of Reiss Nelson but seizing his opportunity once regular games come along. That’s six, and there are undoubtedly some more that I have missed. I don’t have the knowledge about other teams to know if this is an exceptional number, but it feels like it to me.
Now that would be a stat worth seeing – how many youngsters are breaking into the first team squad this season among other clubs? Anyone got that, and a way of measuring what breaking through actually means, please do write in.
Whether players have improved or not is a much harder stat to argue because where some fans get it in their heads that a player is useless it is very tough to shake that belief, and the old “you can prove anything with stats” phrase is then often trotted out.
Take Xhaka. Rave reviews for his international appearances during the interlull, so maybe a great improvement? Or maybe he was never as bad as people said. Mustafi, as we noted, got included in the top rankings by statisticians for the past month, but is still listed as the man we really must move on. (Still at least we are down to one or two, rather than the whole team as it was in the summer).
So now the press don’t know whether to do a 1984 type reversal and pretend that they have thought Xhaka was a great player all the time, or suggest that he has taken notice of their criticism and improved.
But of course we are just coming out of the interlull so there is a paucity of real news and instead we do have some rather droll pieces. Take this one for example
“Arsène Wenger Explains Why He Had A Problem With Zipping Up His Coat At Arsenal” That one is in Sportb
And they weren’t the only ones as 101 Great Goals chimed in with “Arsene Wenger opens up about his Arsenal zip problems.”
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