By Bulldog Drummond
According to the Telegraph, this game v Chelsea “is arguably the biggest game of the season so far. If Arsenal lose, they will be nine points behind the top four, while they can also be overtaken by sixth-placed Manchester United.”
But then in a different article the same newspaper says, “Having inflicted Pep Guardiola’s first defeat as a Premier League manager two seasons ago, Spurs won for the first time in 28 years at Stamford Bridge last term. Spurs were given no chance when Guardiola’s City arrived at White Hart Lane in October 2016 on the back of 10 wins and a draw in their first 11 games under the Spaniard. But, without Kane, Pochettino’s team won 2-0 with Dele Alli getting one of the goals.”
So there we are – Tottenham are doing fine and will continue to do fine because they have fine players and a plan B. That perhaps is true, but I am not too sure the analysis is right. However I put it here, because I think it might be worth coming back to, just to see how close to reality the Telegraph is on that one.
Meanwhile, I saw this comment pop up concerning Arsenal on a blog.
“If we’re really going back to allowing our coach to have significant say in transfer targets we’re doomed.”
Hmmm – and again we shall see. Mr Wenger was the person who brought in Henry and his mate Robert, not to mention many of the members of the Unbeaten team, and the teams that went on to win more FA Cups than any other club. I wonder why that was so bad.
Amy Lawrence has also been having another go at Arsenal with her statement that “After grand plans, unbeaten runs and positive vibes have come shabby results, transfer issues and Sven Mislintat’s impending exit.”
I do tend to look at Ms Lawrence’s exact phraseology with interest ever since she came out with the thought that in one season Arsenal only had two players who scored in double figures – which was true, but irrelevant when one looked at the full set of figures and found only one club had three such players, and only six had, like Arsenal, two. The majority of teams had only one player who scored in double figures but we were made to look inferior by her comment while we were in the upper reaches in any statistically sound analysis.
So let’s see.
“After grand plans…” I am not sure what those were. I am not sure the owner ever said he was going to rival Manchester City, Liverpool or Chelsea in expenditure. There was a statement by Mr Gazidis which suggested we were going to be able to buy the best and compete with the rest, but that was not repeated enough to become club policy, and the fact that it didn’t get mentioned repeatedly suggested it was a statement not a grand plan. What were the grand plans? I’d like to know.
Well, one unbeaten run – 22 games as I recall. And saying “unbeaten runs” is a comment of the “only two who scored in double figures” type. It suggests that there are lots of runs, that they are commonplace – no, we had a run of 22. Why not say it? Why all this word play? It reduces her work to the same as the guy telling us the Arsenal striker shock – out for up to four weeks – an exclusive no less, when it is a youngster who was never going to be picked for the first team anyway.
“…and positive vibes”… And where do these come from? Presumably the media who play the normal game of promoting a club before knocking it down.
“have come shabby results”
So what is a shabby result (as opposed to a bit of shabby journalism)? After the 22 game run ended we have had
|16 Dec 2018||Southampton v Arsenal||L||3-2||Premier League|
|19 Dec 2018||Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur||L||0-2||League Cup|
|22 Dec 2018||Arsenal v Burnley||W||3-1||Premier League|
|26 Dec 2018||Brighton and Hove Albion v Arsenal||D||1-1||Premier League|
|29 Dec 2018||Liverpool v Arsenal||L||5-1||Premier League|
|01 Jan 2019||Arsenal v Fulham||W||4-1||Premier League|
|05 Jan 2019||Blackpool v Arsenal||W||0-3||FA Cup|
|12 Jan 2019||West Ham United v Arsenal||L||1-0||Premier League|
Four defeats, three wins, and a draw. Was losing to Southampton 3-2 shabby? Or was it the league cup game against Tottenham, or the defeat to Liverpool, or the defeat to West Ham. Or all of them? I would have thought the issue of each one is an issue, but a different sort of issue, which could be examined. But lumping them all into one basket as “Shabby” gets us nowhere. Because one of the factors involved is psychological – most clubs that have great runs tend to fall down when the run comes to an end.
Then we have “transfer issues and Sven Mislintat’s impending exit.” Two different things surely – the transfer issue is totally and completely a matter of the owner and his willingness to invest. Mislintat’s possible departure looks like something to do with the manager and his different way of working.
But none of this is investigated. Instead we get, “There is a fine line between the encouragement of a few months ago and a return to the apathy that was epitomised by reams of empty seats at the Emirates last season.”
Whose apathy? Presumably the apathy of the media, too bored or too dim-witted to be able to do a proper analysis of the situation.
And I’m not too sure about a ream of empty seats (a ream is 500 sheets of paper), but even if there were thousands of empty seats, this should be contrasted with … what? The fact that during most of Mr Wenger’s reign at the Emirates the stadium was more full? Is she saying that Wenger was a success and Emery is not? Or the fact that for most of the time Arsenal has been in north London, the crowd wanting to be at Arsenal was rarely above 40,000. The truth is that Wenger’s ability to get 55,000+ into the stadium through all the years after the Unbeaten season, was an absolute triumph – but by implication is now relegated to being the norm that everyone has to approach.
Except we do, after all, have a much bigger stadium than Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City. And in truth Tottenham, who actually have no workable stadium of their own at all.
It is thus not just the constant sniping at Arsenal that is a pain, it is the constant slipping through of misinformation. It’s that old “Arsenal only had two strikers who reached double figures” thing again and again. If it was in the Sun, I’d just shrug, but this is in the Guardian, and that is supposed to be the home of quality journalism.