Man U v Arsenal: difficult days for the gentlemen of the press

By Bulldog Drummond

Imagine the problem: you work for the media and are given the clear direction that knocking Arsenal is the order of the day.   But you find that in reality they are doing rather well.  Unbeaten in League, League Cup and Europa since the second league match of the season.  What on earth can you say?

One solution is to write the headline:

“xG secrets: Arsenal are wildly over-performing, and Mo Salah is having a great season”

which appears in the Telegraph.

If you are a regular here you will know that Untold does not possess a writer who can explain the validity of xG as either a meaningful measurement of the past nor a way of predicting the future.   In fact we’re slowly developing our own new site with the aim of predicting results:  because we are getting so fed up with xG.

There are just a few articles up there at the moment as we have been playing with the layout etc, and one or two of them are lifted from Untold to help us get the design right, but it will hopefully start from here on to explain more fully a simple alternative to the expected goals approach.

And when there have been enough expected goals (without any explanation of how a club can score many more goals than xG predicts and it is the club that is wrong, not the theory) one can turn to the standard knocking copy.  This from the same publication…

“Arsenal snarling and sneering their way to victory shows how conceptions of nastiness are changing”

Of course some of the publications do go completely off the rails as with the Express which ran the headline,

“Arsenal news: ‘It’s a no-brainer’ – Unai Emery told to complete big January deal”

This gives us advice from Vinnie Jones who tells us “Ozil must leave”.  There is of course at least one no brainer in that story but I am not sure it is the idea that Ozil must leave.

Meanwhile Arsenal have equalled the Premier League record that has been held since 2007 by Benni McCarthy, once of Blackburn.  Aubameyang is the first player since McC to score a goal from each of ten consecutive shots on target in the Premier League.   Another shot another goal and he will break the record.

Elsewhere the nonsense goes on as with

“Denis Suarez: Have Arsenal found their Aaron Ramsey replacement?”

in Give me Sport.    And the answer to the question is no, because Denis Suarez is not home grown and Aaron Ramsey is, and Arsenal have no non-HG places avaialable.   A non-HG player will need to be sold or removed from the squad to allow another one in.

Of course we can always rely on a laugh from the authorities at this time as with “Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur have been charged following the game on 2 December 2018.    It is alleged that, in the 32nd minute, they failed to ensure their players conducted themselves in an orderly fashion.”

Have you ever seen players conduct themselves in an orderly fashion on the pitch?  I think that is rather a contradiction in terms.

As for today’s game, if you have been reading the media you will probably have seen at least one headline along the lines of

“No Mesut Ozil, new formation: How Unai Emery must tinker his Arsenal side to end wretched 12-year run at Manchester United.”

Arsenal are awful against Man U is the official media story of the day but it looks like one of those very contrived headlines.  For example if we look at the last eight games between the clubs we get

Date Game Res Score Competition
09 Mar 2015 Manchester United v Arsenal W 1-2 FA Cup
17 May 2015 Manchester United v Arsenal D 1-1 Premier League
04 Oct 2015 Arsenal v Manchester United W 3-0 Premier League
28 Feb 2016 Manchester United v Arsenal L 3-2 Premier League
19 Nov 2016 Manchester United v Arsenal D 1-1 Premier League
07 May 2017 Arsenal v Manchester United W 2-0 Premier League
02 Dec 2017 Arsenal v Manchester United L 1-3 Premier League
29 Apr 2018 Manchester United v Arsenal L 2-1 Premier League

Not as good as I’d like them to be but even so, three wins, three defeats and two draws against another of the top six clubs isn’t that bad is it?  At least not when we are totally awful and not expected to get any of the goals we do get.

Arsenal are not yet title winning, I agree, but “wretched”?   No.  So why create this headline?  Presumably just to knock Arsenal.

It was ever thus.


16 Replies to “Man U v Arsenal: difficult days for the gentlemen of the press”

  1. “how a club can score many more goals than xG predicts and it is the club that is wrong, not the theory”
    you said it all, bulldog
    i had seen the title … sometimes, the conspiracy theorist in me believes that such columnists are paid only to run tests of resistance to Newspeak on their readers, just to see how gullible these readers would be, in case of propaganda need
    seriously: having said that, i have to admit that seeing how far they have to go to malign our winning streak, is a wonderful treat

  2. Congrats on your new site! Hope it works out well.
    I’ve found that Arsenal tend to give and receive a good number of corners in each game, and have made some money betting on it. Would love to hear more strategies on

  3. Talking of prediction, in the tonight’s big game clash at Old Trafford in the PL between Man Utd and Arsenal. For sure, Arsenal will beat Man Utd by 2 goals to nil in the match at fulltime plus the added time and carry the night.

    The Arsenal 3-4-1-2 formation and the starting XI and on the bench 7 Gunners that I want to see Emery start and have on the bench are below.

    Starting XI:
    Holding Mustafi Sokratis;
    Belerin Guend’zi Tor’eria Kolasinac;
    Lacazette Aubameyang.

    Cech Lichtsteiner Jenkinson Elneny Ramsey Mkhitaryan Iwobi.

  4. LE GALL and Sammy The Snake

    Thanks for the link and I doff my cap to Mr Ronay.

    Due to certain posters seeming intent on discrediting Wenger, his achievements, both distant and recent, as well as his his entire legacy it seems at times, I and a couple of others have deemed it necessary to defend the great man, but as is the norm it was pointless, so I for one just gave up.

    But this kind of analysis is all I’m asking for. A fair even handed respectful take on what Wenger achieved for our Club.

    I took the following segment (with personal comments) as a good example of what I mean:

    “If it has been easy for Emery to pull the loose threads and produce a team who are, with a little luck, (perfectly true) unbeaten in 19 games then this is in part because he inherited an environment where the basics were already in place. (exactly).

    The facts might not tally with the idea of Wenger running Arsenal into the ground.(Indeed, that certainly doesn’t sit well with many). In reality he left the club with a strong squad of players, a fine and profitable stadium, an excellent training ground, sound recruitment structure, not all his doing, and good spirit (A ‘good spirit’ Given some posters comments you’d of thought they were stabbing each other in the back) with an absence of destructive egos (didn’t Wenger get roundly criticised for solving that particular problem ?). Plus, of course, no strings to bind his successor, no looming presence in the stands, just room to breathe and build from a sound base. (Unlike one particularly red nosed ‘dictator’ I can think of)

    Wenger gave a first-team debut to 10 of the 13 outfield players who beat Spurs on Sunday. (Amazing, you of thought from what you’d heard Emery had built this team from scratch). He signed the league’s top scorer, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, whose movement was a striking contrast with that of Harry Kane in his current mode, which involves spending a lot of time walking backwards, reaching out with his hands for someone to grapple and spin off, like a man in search of the bathroom light switch late at night.

    Wenger also left some decent defenders (Holding could at £2 Million be the bargin of the decade, and isn’t the much derided Mustafi topping many European performance tables?) and a good spread of age ranges, not to mention enough depth in midfield to allow Emery to become increasingly brusque with Mesut Özil.”

    I don’t agree with every word of the article, but it would be very odd if I or anyone did, but thats not the point.

    It’s the fact that rather than trash evrything Wenger did, especially in his final years, Ronay quite rightly highlights the enormous amout of good things Wenger was doing right up to the end of his tenure, and the wonderful overall state he left the club in, again unlike Fergie who despite spending £100’s of Millions arguably left United in such a state they have still yet to recover from it, yet HE is never critisised.

    No, Wenger wasn’t perfect, nobody is, but he simply doesn’t deserve the sort of ridicule he so often gets, shamefully as often as not from our own fans and ex players alike.

    Well done and thank you for a ballnced and well thought out article Mr Roney.

    And no I don’t want Wemger back. I’m perfectly happy with, nay, over the moon with our incumbent manager and will give him the same unwavering support I gave our last manager, and the one before that, and the one before that, BUT it will not be at the expence of Wenger or anyone else for that matter.

  5. OT: From yesterday’s games

    1. What causes me to post this, is yet another point from reading play by play commentary. Cardiff was given a penalty at some time, listed in the commentary as 34m. When the penalty was actually taken (and missed), the time is listed as 35m. I’ve seen this quite consistently, but I don’t know if it is always the case. There should almost never be any difference in time form when the referee stops play to issue the penalty, and when the penalty is taken. Is the time the penalty issued wrong in this instance?

    2. Brighton really wanted their game yesterday. Brighton scored early (penalty) at 24m. Four minutes later, Duffy is dismissed with a straight red. Three minutes after that (31), Brighton is forced into a substitution. Four minutes after that, CPalace inflicts a treatment on Brighton which results in the second substitution (no card, again) for Brighton. Brighton was already down 1 man, and are down 2 men for 4 minutes trying to treat their player who is subbed 6 minutes after the incident. At 81m Kevin Friend decides to even up the penalties, and gives one to CPalace (probably to thank them for injuring a Brighton player). Two minutes later at 83m, CPalace again inflicts a treatment on Brighton, who have used up their third substitution at 49m. So they again have to play more short handed for 7 minutes (into stoppage time?). And they won 3-1. CPalace received 3 yellow sin the game, but none associated with treatments they inflicted on Brighton.

  6. Since I am asking for opinions on two games, I’ll throw a third game at you; StateAid versus Cardiff under the “watchful” eyes of Graham Scott (referrturd). According to the states, StateAid committed only 9 fouls to Cardiff’s 12. StateAid finished the game with 1 yellow, while Cardiff left with two yellows. No cards were issued for any of the 6 treatments in the game. Two of those treatments (one to each team) required substitution of the player hurt. No cards for rough play?

    Just a bunch of bozos from 😈 Mike Riley’s PGMO!

  7. Re Wenger’s legacy, didn’t he very frequently state his objective was to leave the club in a position where the incoming manager could kick on?
    Sure he would have loved another PL title as vindication of his approach, but it looks like he has achieved his primary objective.
    Barney Ronay has written plenty of appalling articles mocking Wenger in the past, but credit for putting a proper perspective.
    As a supporter of Wenger especially in the face of the gratuitous abuse directed at him, I am nonetheless very happy with the choice of Emery who seems to continue the club’s ethos.
    But I do miss Wenger’s press conferences!

  8. Nitram –
    My personal view of MSM robo blogs, is that they are -of course- run by concerns who, let us say, have more than a slight interest in the betting market, the advertising of which in the form of “debate” serves that interest admirably.
    The only statistic that counts, in that most lucrative of businesses, is the odds & the amounts wagered
    Whether we as individuals frequent the bookies or not, merely by writing on this blog we are assisting the advertising of interest in the game, in a small way -hey, even Tony’s got Bet partner-no worries!
    But in times when hedge funds can make money out of things failing and the rich get very rich and the poor are left to fend for themselves, we should not be surprised when fair play (&comment) is unusual, in every sphere

  9. How many times did Wenger get this sort of support from the press?

    We aren’t the only club faced with the negativity from ex-players – but our ex-players often didn’t reach the heights the Man U pundit did and Arsene / Arsenal certainly never plumbed the depths.

    Wenger at least was dignified and protected his players unlike Mourinho so deserved some support.
    Mourinho – for whatever reason – is creating an atmosphere at Man U and reaping the results.
    But beware – he’ll fire the team up for tonight a la Tony Pulis.

  10. OT: Corruption

    Interesting compare and contrast involving football and the Catholic Church.


    Another former FIFA executive pleads guilty to corruption (seen in multiple places).


    Want to avoid going to jail for perjury? You just have to win the Ballon d’Or.

    Modric is a waste of oxygen.

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