Asmir Begovic has five errors leading to goals. Bernd Leno is on three – which is the same number as the keepers at Liverpool and Everton. In terms of conceding from goalkicks, playing it short reduces the chances of this. But for Neil Etheridge at Cardiff that seems not to be an option – Cardiff concede possession from goalkicks on six out of every 10 occasions they get one. Arsenal are right down at the foot of both tables.
5) Own goals.
Teams that have conceded one own goal are not penalised in this list, so Arsenal get no penaltypoints, but Tottenham and Man U have both conceded three own goals. Only Wolverhampton have done it four times.
Conceding penalties comes into this category too, and this is where Arsenal slip up having conceded six penalties. The top offender is Brighton with nine. Chelsea have conceded two, Man City four, Liverpool one. Other mistakes that lead to goals but not via penalties also come into the calculations and here Xhaka apparently is included into the list – although rather bizarrely the Guardian team fail to tell us how many times he has done it.
7) Not scoring
From this point on it all gets even sillier – like giving team a one point fine for failing to score in a match. Not surprisingly Huddersfield score highly in this regard as do other clubs heading for relegation, but it is interesting that West Ham have had 14 games where they have not and Chelsea have nine such occasions. Arsenal have three such games, along with Tottenham and Liverpool.
8) Simulation, diving, dissent and red cards.
Diving is one of the most contested issues in football, and of course part of the problem with this whole approach from the Guaridan is that is starts from the basic premise that the referee is right in all cases – remembering of course that the matches considered here are all played without VAR while being regulated by the fanatically secretive and grossly understaffed PGMO. Arsenal and Tottenham have each been penalised four times for dives and they are the top clubs in this regard.
In terms of dissent this is where the ref has enormous latitude in deciding what is reasoned commentary and what is worthy of a yellow card. There are no microphones so this is an area where the ref really could hamper at team if he had been persuaded so to do in a Type III match fixing situation.
Cardiff have 10 dissent cards, Arsenal eight, Leicester and Newcastle have seven. Liverpool only has one dissent card – bottom of the list.
9) Red cards
The newspaper awards five points for every player sent off. Which gives Leicester 25 points followed by such media favourites as Manchester United. At the other end Chelsea have had none – of which the newspaper in a hilarious twist says “which may tell you something about their combative spirit”. Or may not as the case may be.
10) Failing to find your own player in your own half
Wolverhampton are the worst at this, followed by Fulham, followed by Arsenal. That looks rather damning, but then Manchester City, Cardiff, Burnley and Southampton are the best. So that suggests desirable though it is, passing to your own player in your own half isn’t that indicative of anything. I suspect because quite often when the ball is intercepted from such a pass, it gains no advantage – perhaps being the result of a leg stuck out and the ball bouncing out of play or back to the team playing out from the back.
Bonus award: General incompetence
Here the newspaper gives points to team for hiring and firing a manager in the same season, touchline bans for managers, and (because Arsenal actually aren’t picking up many points) the paper balances this by getting a point for having Victo Manas have a tunnel discussion with someone from Crystal Palace.
So it is clearly not all serious, but whether this is because the newspaper want to publish something funny, or because they couldn’t be arsed to sort out a proper analysis or because they did, and then didn’t like the results it came up with, it is hard to tell.
But they do note that two years ago Hull under Marco Silva were top of their list and last year Watford with Marco Silva were top of the list. This year, he’s nearly made it three in a row with Everton.
If you are a regular reader you’ll know I like statistics, but with the caveat that statistics need to be considered carefully to see what they reveal. Rejecting them all because “you can prove anything with stats” is as childish is accepting any stat without looking at it in depth. So the statistics show that Chelsea have 64% possession this season but only 173 shots on target. You need to see both stats together to see Chelsea’s problem.
As for the winners of the Guardian’s incompetence chart, the top three are Cardiff, Brighton and Everton. Man U are 9th, Arsenal and Tottenham are equal 12th, The bottom three are Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool.
Does it tell us anything? Nothing definitive of course, but even with some fancy flicks of a computer keyboard, the Guardian has not managed to get Arsenal in the top 10 for incompetence, which suggests these ceaseless negative tales really don’t have much going for them – just as we thought.
- Are Arsenal really making progress, or are we starting to slip back?
- Luton 3 Arsenal 4: maybe it is time to say positive things
- Luton v Arsenal – the referee, the team, Saka and Cliff Bastin
- Luton Town – how do they play the game. The tackles, fouls and cards.
- Luton Town v Arsenal: Grim football, fewest goals, lowest possession rate