by Tony Attwood
Most of the time it is the sloppy writing that annoys me. And most particularly when a journalist writes a piece about Arsenal which is fair enough and a reasonably decent piece but then throws in some gratuitous rubbish along the way. Just to remind us that this is Arsenal we are talking about.
As an example let us take Daniel Zeqiri in his article in the Telegraph, “David Luiz is no clown and Unai Emery can have no excuses after Arsenal’s transfer window.” Why mention excuses, when Emery has not, as far as I recall, made excuses. He doesn’t go on and on about injuries. He doesn’t talk about lack of money. He doesn’t criticise the fan base for booing Arsenal players. He doesn’t blame them for turning almost everyone from Ozil to Maitland-Niles.
Now to be fair, most of the article is really quite reasonable. And when he opens with the standard negativity that all journalists seem to employ (to the extent that one begins to wonder if it is written into their NUJ contracts), well, it looks like the same old same old type of article. As when he writes about “Emery’s inability to improve the away form or goals conceded column”.
Now since the issue of away form has been a central concern here, let’s follow this up…
So last season we scored 11 more goals and conceded four more goals than in the season before away from home. As a result we got nine more points away from home. As I have said throughout the summer, it was not enough but it shows an improvement on the away form. If that improvement continues at the same pace then this coming season we should have an away form which garners 34 points and has a goal difference of +3.
Taking last season’s away form table as a guide, that would have made us the third most successful away team in the league in terms of points and the fourth best in terms of away goal difference.
Let me spell that out so that people like Mr Zeqiri get it. If we have another season of the “inability to improve the away form” that he found last season, we’d have the third best away team in the league. Since overall we were only two points away from fourth place and three points from third, it is not hard to realise that we would have been third in the full league table.
Now I know third is not a trophy, but it does mean another step forward, and a return to the Champions League.
Of course we might argue that just getting up to third is not really much of a return for an outlay of something around about £140m less the money we have received from player sales, but it would be progress.
He also does make the good point that David Luiz is a through ball expert, and given the sort of forward line Arsenal will put out this coming season, that is exactly what we need.
At the end he points out that, “Arsenal have surpassed expectations this summer but that will not insulate Emergy and his players from criticism should things take a turn for the worse.”
Now that is a really interesting sentence. Arsenal surpassed expectations on spending because the media, following the lead of the notoriously inaccurate Arsenal Supporters’ Trust and its camp followers said that Arsenal only had a budget of £40m or so this summer. The media really ought to check out its sources – but no, in football, that seems to be asking too much.
But he is right – the first draw and Arsenal will be criticised again and again and again. But the writer is virtually out on his own when he notes that we have Holding and Bellerin to return, and that Chambers is still in the squad, plus he is positive about what Guendouzi did in his first season. These things are all to his credit.
So why when he has such information at his finger tips does he speak of our inability to improve the away form, when in fact another dose of the same this year will be another positive step forward and leave us as being the main challengers to Manchester City and Liverpool the season after that. That is if Manchester City survive the attentions of Uefa for another season. Maybe they will, but you never know – in these excitable times anything can happen.
- Arsenal have benefitted by the world cup break: allegedly.
- Arsenal and Tottenham: which has had the easier ride so far this season?
- Arsenal v Tottenham: not exactly a battle of equals.
- Death by 300,000 passes: how the Arsenal transformation started 2 seasons ago.
- Approaching derby day we recall when Arsenal helped Tottenham get into the league