Will any player ever want to sign for Arsenal after headlines like this?

by Tony Attwood

One of the main effects of football commentary on radio, TV and in newspapers has been to make football seem simple.  Anyone can see at once what is wrong and how it needs to be put right.  And everyone can – except the manager.

As a result of this view, every mistake and every bit of bad luck is interpreted as idiocy.  Just as any attempt to re-evaluate evidence or take into account new evidence, and thus change one’s mind, is seen as a lack of morale fibre and a sign that one’s work is useless.

So Arsenal lost 3-0 to Manchester City having had to make two substitutions within the first 24 minutes.  Hardly a good result, but given Arsenal’s record this season, pretty much in line with what has gone before.   And yet it produced headlines such as

Arsenal register frightening landmark after humbling Manchester City defeat (Football.London)

“It was the first time that the Gunners failed to register a shot on target in the Premier League this season, an alarming statistic with nine games left to play.”

That is interesting because it is a typical FoLo comment – as it doesn’t tell us if any other club had failed to make a shot on target in a season, nor if any other club had to make two substitutions within the first 24 minutes of a game this season.

The suspicion must be “no it is not the first” because they continue “According to Opta, Luiz is the first player to be sent off, concede a penalty and commit an error leading to an opposition goal in a Premier League match since Carl Jenkinson for West Ham vs Bournemouth in August 2015.”

Now if they have been searching stats as obscure as that then they most surely would know which other teams had failed to have a shot on target.  But they choose not to say.

The fact is that having to make two substitutions in 24 minutes would be highly disruptive to any team, and I am not sure that it was anyone’s fault at the club.  To assert that it was we would need to know a lot more about the training situation at Arsenal.  (Remembering that for year after year Arsenal were said to have more injuries than any other team, all because of Mr Wenger’s training methods – and that was all a fantasy too).

In short this is a typical piece of anti-Arsenal rhetoric from FoLo, a website that devotes a significant amount of its time and resources constantly to knocking Arsenal.

So I wondered just how many other weird anti-Arsenal headlines there were in the immediate aftermath of the match.   And unsurprisingly there were quite a few.  Too many in fact to put in one article…

Arsenal news live: Gunners slammed for Man City travel plans,  (Talk Sport)

So even the transport manager is an idiot.  (In what way is that news live?)

Arsenal told Aubameyang talks could lead to contract situation similar to Ozil’s  (Talk Sport)

Arsenal are not just stupid enough to allow a valuable player like Auba slip away for nothing they are going to do the same thing with Ozil.   

This headline had nothing to do with the game, but TalkSprout decided to run it in the immediate aftermath of the game.

Arsenal transfer blow as Serie A target signs a new deal with his club (Just Arsenal News)

We are not even going to be able to bring in new players because our negotiators are useless.

Luiz disaster is symptom of a bigger, more expensive Arsenal transfer error (HITC)

The idea that Arsenal were stupid to sign Luiz in the first place is all over the media, but it is interesting that one bad transfer move (if that is what it was) can be a “symptom”   It is worth pausing to see exactly what HITC said here about Luiz

“Arsenal panicked on deadline day by buying him.   It was a cheap stop-gap deal, and Arsenal truly got what they paid for.  But the real fault here lies not with Luiz, but the decision to spend £72 million on Nicolas Pepe.  Few knew Arsenal had that kind of money to spend last summer, and when they did, there was hope and belief that he may emerge as a superstar.   Pepe has talent, and might eventually come good, but he hasn’t so far.  He was not even in Arsenal’s starting line up last night, which says it all.”

Of course there is no evidence that Luiz was a panic buy – unless one argues that every deadline day deal is a panic buy.  But it is interesting to hear that he was a “cheap” since Talk Sport said “David Luiz has cost Arsenal £24MILLION in one season…”  Is one of these “outlets” simply making it up?

However it seems Untold’s pieces showing that the £24m story was a total fabrication has sunk in occasionally, and HITC have dropped that and gone to the opposite extreme.  But then Pepe not playing “says it all” does it?

Pepe has found it hard to adjust to Arsenal and Premier League football and its referees, that is true.  But he’s hardly the first player to run into difficulty.  Henry, Bergkamp, Pires…

But hey, that’s history, and why bother with historical insights when there is a chance to knock Arsenal again?




14 Replies to “Will any player ever want to sign for Arsenal after headlines like this?”

  1. A lot of English ex players are fun of making mock of arsenal by either wanting our best players to go away or stopping some best players to come to arsenal, The officiating is nothing to write home about it is very very shameful for some of the arsenal ex players can’t even air out some of the mistake this so call English officials are causing the club. Against Chelsea we were given undue red card, which is one of my point to say English football is against arsenal fc.

  2. I think using Aubameyang in his preferred center forward position would go a long way in ensuring we get at least too 4 next season because I can’t see us winning anything in 4byears time.

  3. Having done a cursory scan of the BBC stats for the season up to 31/12/19 teams recorded zero shots on target on thirteen occasions.

    Five times it was the home team that had no SOT. On one of those occasions the away team was Arsenal! (No I don’t remember being heaped with praise and our opponents being mercilessly pilloried by the media either?! It has happened to three clubs more than once. Four times it happened to teams in the top half of the table. One of those was the team currently in third and they were at home that day.

    So by that reckoning is it so shocking that a team records zero SOT having been disrupted by a three month lay-off, away at the reigning champions and having suffered two injuries in the first 20 minutes? I’d suggest not.

    On top of this I found many more occasions when teams only registered one SOT, several of those were teams currently sitting in the top six.

    For an alternative perspective on 25 October, Southampton managed three SOT at home against Leicester which is obviously much better than zero! (In case your memory is as bad as mine, they lost 0-9).

    And finally, I remember a game about 20/25 years ago where we had about 30 shots, some 20 odd on target and lost to an own goal. Funny old game!

  4. Quite unfortunate about the early injuries and the attendant disruption that must have caused to the game plan.
    But even before those injuries, our team was simply not up to scratch. In fact, if not for the heroics of Leno, we would telling a different story.
    And Arteta’s team selection has much to do with it all.
    It didn’t make sense to me that you are playing away to a quality team like City and you go with the youngsters?
    Exposing the young players to these kind of embarrasing defeats is not good for their confidence and growth.
    My opinion.
    I practically lost interest in the game immediately I saw the starting line-up. I still can’t understand it.

  5. Mikey

    Again, well done on finding those stats, stats that prove yet again, that facts and or perspective, matter not a jot to these media drainpipes when it comes to knocking Arsenal.

    And as Tony suggests, given how deep they have dug for other statistics, as well as the mountain of data we absolutely know they will have available to them, they obviously know these figures, yet make a clear editorial choice to simply ignore them.

    And still people try to claim that every team gets this amount of unsubstantiated, non contextual garbage that we get, on what is sometimes, as Tony has shown before, an almost hourly basis.

    “And finally, I remember a game about 20/25 years ago where we had about 30 shots, some 20 odd on target and lost to an own goal. Funny old game!”

    I also remember absolutely mullering Man Utd at the Emirates back in 2014, but still somehow losing 1-2 to a Gibbs OG and a late Rooney breakaway when we were pushing for the equaliser. As it happens Giroud came on and got a late consolation with a great effort.

    The stats read:

    Possession 61% – 39%

    Shots 23 – 12

    SOT 9 – 2

    So 2 SOT 1 of which was the OG.

    So effectively Man Utd managed just ONE shot on target.

    From the BBC report:

    “After long spells of dominance by the Gunners, Kieran Gibbs turned Antonio Valencia’s cross into his own net before Wayne Rooney sealed victory with his side’s first shot on target after 85 minutes”

    As you suggest Mikey, having no (or very few) SOT when playing away against top teams is hardly unusual, especially when your entire game plan goes out the window after 20 minutes.

    The media are just a bunch of ……

  6. @ CorporateMan
    I’m no manager but I think MA went for legs ( energy/mobility ) in midfield , but with the injury to GX after 5 minutes game plan changed and again approx 20 minutes later when DL replaced PM . I actually thought they done well to keep it to just 3 goals

  7. I am uncertain whether the stories published in the media are purposely shallow or whether the writers really don’t understand the dynamics of a football squad or any team sport for that matter.

    Quality, self-belief, stability and the resultant ability to take and maintain the initiative in a match are key. If we were to look at the top two teams we would see these traits. We are not there yet and it will take time.

    On Wednesday, I saw an Arsenal side that had quality but were confronted by a squad that were a step or two ahead in their team play; Man City have a stable established way of playing. Mikel Arteta has just started to show our side the way he wants them to play. Man City were confident about where everyone was and would be and this allowed them to play faster. Our players can see that gap in team play and we hesitate. This is normal. If you expect them to play the ball past you as you try to shut them down you are less likely to try that…you back off to not get caught out – ceding the initiative.

    Self belief or confidence, if you will, is such a slippery thing to acquire for an individual; it is even more undefinable and amorphous for a team to get. I suspect it starts with belief in the manager/coach and it is leavened by a whole of graft…and patience especially from fans.

    In summary, I believe that we have to have trust in the process and to not expect to beat the best, yet. It will come and we shall know when the team has ‘got it’ not necessarily by winning the odd match away, but rather by the seemingly miraculous impression that the team is playing faster. Of course they won’t be. What they will be doing is showing that they know each other and the system by moving almost automatically. There are two teams on the pitch, all other things being equal, the team that moves and plays as an ensemble affects their opponent, wresting the initiative away from them – making certain that the less organized team reacts to them.

    Let’s have patience and belief in this new project led by Mikel Arteta. I for one believe it will pay off.

  8. I suppose most of Spurs transfer dealings are “panic buys” then as they nearly always leave most of their buying until the very last day, though I have never heard them called thus. The opposite in fact, Levy always described as a shrewd and clever negotiator.

  9. @ Nitram

    I too remember the Man U game well.

    I also remember that one of the MotD pundits that evening saying the MU manager “had got his tactics spot on”. That comment really took the biscuit. They conceded 23 shots and De Gea got MotM. Is it really a good tactic to allow yourself to be dominated and rely on a MotM performance from your goalkeeper?!! Utter garbage.

  10. Mikey

    Isn’t funny how these utterly ridiculous comments that are so far removed from the reality of what actually occurred stick in your mind.

    Again this is from many years ago so the actual details are vague, but basically we had played really well, absolutely peppering the opponents goal and eventually running 4 nil winners if I remember correctly. A great day at the office you would of thought.

    Apparently not according to Rob Beasley.

    The next day I read his report with disbelief as he said the following within what was a very uncomplimentary report, despite the wide margin victory:

    “……any team that needs that many shots at goal to score 4 goals has to worry about the quality within the team”

    Again, it’s a long time so that wont be word for word, but it’s close enough.

    So depending who you are, getting mullered, mustering 1 shot on goal, and scraping a very lucky 2 – 1 victory is something to be applauded, whilst stuffing a team with 20 plus shots and a 4 goal victory is something to be critisised.

  11. @ Nitram

    We should meet up in a pub one day and share anecdotes of this nature, there are simply millions of them.

    @ dudley willmott

    Please enlighten us as to your coaching qualifications, experience as a top manager, knowledge of player fitness, their mental attitude and inside information about how they have performed in training. Once in possession of those facts we can make an informed decision as to whether you or the manager is best placed to make a decision about team selection. Evidence can be terribly useful.

  12. Mikey

    It would be a very long night my friend.

    The fact is despite the infuriating media and even more infuriating negativity of way too many of our fans, the tales of joy and celebration would far far out way the tales of woe.

    And that is in fact part of the problem, because the fact of the matter is we are a wonderfully ran and a wonderfully successful Club, 3rd only in historic terms domestically to Manchester United and Liverpool, yet if you were an alien picking up media broadcasts on some distant planet you’d be forgiven for thinking we were an utter failure of a club, forever living in the shadow of our far superior North London rivals.

    I will raise a glass to the possibility of long night of reminiscence.

  13. Going back to the headlines, I have to say they have always been the same in my experience of following The Arsenal…except, of course, during Arsene Wenger’s first decade.

    As far as I am aware, there has never been a player who has refused to join us due to the media and/or headlines that have been this way for decades.

    Don’t get so down Tony, if one listens to Mikel Arteta, any player would want to join our club – long as Mr Kronkie supports his vision.

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