Arsenal’s victories in cup and shield were predictable, for anyone who wanted to look

by Tony Attwood

There was something astonishingly satisfying about that win against Liverpool.  It wasn’t just the media’s overwhelming assumption that Liverpool would in fact be Liverpool!, the team that would swat Arsenal aside with a mere flick of the wrist.  It wasn’t just the media’s belief that Arsenal’s winning of the FA Cup was one of those chance events that happen from time to time.

It wasn’t even the overwhelming arrogance of the commentators and players combined that Liverpool! could get away with anything, could do anything, and would of course always win, come what may, because they are Liverpool!

It was in fact the culmination of an improvement in Arsenal’s performance both under Arteta, and the improvement in refereeing performances when there is no crowd present, coming on top of Untold’s little analysis of the oddities of the tackles / fouls / yellow card statistics that we undertook last season.  As ever we had been sticking our heads out and being criticised, and for once we actually were proven right!

In the runup to the community shield game the media implied that yes, Arsenal certainly have done better since Arteta arrived mid-season, but are not really good enough to destabilize the almighty wonderful Liverpool!  And who cares if Liverpool! have socially irresponsible mass celebrations in the streets of the city, in contravention of the virus regulations?  To object to such celebrations would surely be churlish.

Thus inevitably yesterday’s game had been talked up by the media as what would undoubtedly be the continuance of the dominance of Liverpool!  It was Liverpool’s right to win it, of course it was.  And in the end let’s not forget that Arsenal didn’t save a penalty, the Liverpool! player missed it.  Probably a glint of sunlight from an Arsenal ball boy in the stand behind the goal playing with a mirror.  Typical Arsenal cheating.

Mind you even the media find it hard to hide Saka’s movement to give the ball to Aubameyang or Auba’s shot for the goal.  But the media could not quite realise was that this is how Arsenal have been playing of late and was indeed what they were up to in the cup final.   Saka, Aubameyang, Xhaka-Elneny, Tierney, Maitland-Niles… blimey there are some real players there!   That can’t be!

What Arsenal did was to ignore the hype that said that Liverpool! had no weaknesses, and instead look for the weaknesses that all teams have and play to them, particularly by making their defence go into places they were not used to going.

Of course the media is rumbling on about Liverpool’s “runs” and “passes”, “pulling Arsenal out of position”.  But what of the statistics?  We gave them possession, they had more shots, but we still took the game.  How did that happen?

After all, when Arteta arrived and got going as manager, Arsenal were sitting around 11th in the league, below clubs like Burnley and Newcastle.

In the 16 games between his arrival and lockdown Arsenal lost just twice and as you will know, eventually we finished 8th the league.  That obviously required an improvement in results, and if we take the league table just based on results of PL games played after Arteta arrived we can see that in the Arteta part of the season Arsenal were actually 5th.  Arsenal were the biggest movers in the upper part of the league.  Here is the league table just showing the games in the second half of the season

Team Movement P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Liverpool 20 15 2 3 39 19 20 47
2 Manchester City +1 19 12 2 5 52 23 29 38
3 Manchester United +5 19 11 5 3 36 13 23 38
4 Chelsea 19 10 4 5 36 27 9 34
5 Arsenal +6 19 9 5 5 31 20 14 30
6 Tottenham Hotspur 19 8 6 5 34 20 14 30
7 Wolverhampton Wanderers -2 19 8 5 6 22 16 6 29
8 Sheffield United -1 19 7 4 8 16 22 -6 25
9 Leicester City -7 19 6 5 8 26 23 3 23

Of course, a season’s position is based on all of the season, but this table is informative.   The clubs that did poorly in the latter part of the season were those with fewer resources in depth as we might expect – Wolverhampton, Sheffield and Leicester.

But Leicester, you may recall, were also hit after the revelation of their very curious statistics which showed them committing the most tackles, but getting far fewer fouls and far fewer yellow cards against them.  It was, of course not a topic that the English media would touch (too many numbers and suggestive of referee bias), and the PL made life hard for those who wanted to do the analysis by not publishing all the figures.  But eventually we got them and once the story was out, Leicester’s season started to unravel.

Naturally many will say that this was just a coincidence.  After all, how could a simple analysis by Untold into the number of tackles, fouls, and yellow cards affect a team’s performance?  And yes of course that could be a complete and absolute coincidence.  But one fact remains: no one publicised these strange stats until we did, and until then, Leicester were flying high.  And after that it appears that referees were far less lenient in letting Leicester get away with their constant tackling game.

But the English media doesn’t like stats very much, so they don’t publish comparisons between the first and second half of the season, just as they don’t publish the tackles / fouls / yellow card figures.   But that does not make the statistics unreal – and the second half league table (which again they don’t publish) does make the point about Leicester’s decline.

But back to Arsenal, and we must admit that even after Arteta’s arrival, we were not top-four material.  But we were better, and as the cup results showed, we were better when it mattered.

Now with yesterday’s win, we can really begin to see the results.  And maybe also, Arsenal has been particularly helped by the lack of crowds, since it was the crowd that was particularly causing difficulty for the team, by making it harder and harder to persuade players to come to Arsenal.  If we can just make a good start in the league and have a decent position in the table by the time the crowd comes back, that could stop the negativity in the ground once and for all.

This coming season could, indeed, be quite good.

10 Replies to “Arsenal’s victories in cup and shield were predictable, for anyone who wanted to look”

  1. Excellent analysis there Untold Arsenal,
    The statistics prove a great deal.
    If I can do my bit by staying away from games then it’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make.
    On another note could I ask you to examine how Mikel Arteta has improved things in less than a year?
    Interesting to see how players formerly regarded as of no use being now seen as essential for our continued progress.
    Realistically,we will have setbacks for the good ship Arsenal but with Mikel on board I get the impression we’re going to weather the storms.

  2. What a fantastic coach/manager Arsenal now have , being an ex player and knowing the values of the club .
    Having left Arsenal to do his apprenticeship at MC under the guidance of Pep G , when did you ever see MC play a well organised defensive game trying to catch the opposition on the break . MC have never been afraid to spend money ( country owned ) on players but mostly on offensive players , there game is about possession and attacking .
    This is completely different in our Arsenal are playing at the moment , I can see this team evolving to being a great attacking side in a season or two(2) , he’s making us hard to play against , this is completely different to he’s three(3) and a bit year apprenticeship he had at MC .
    I know there’s many ways to play football but what MA is doing at moment will make Arsenal great

  3. Just re-publishing a stat I read from a comment on UA yesterday.
    Something I had not realised and I find fascinating.
    9 players on the fields are Wenger era players or academy players from that era.
    Talk about a legacy…..

    For a manager who did not know how to trade players…and a club who is incapable of managing contracts….this is fascinating.
    I believe that this stability is one of the ingredients of success. The guys know each other, they are a band.
    And with each such victory they add confidence and can-do capacity.

    I am definitely feeling very positive about this coming season.
    Let’s hope they get 14 and AMN to re-sign and Ceballos back.
    And turn the fortunes of Guendouzi and Ozil around.
    I don’t want any new faces now. Well, no, I’d accept Messi… ;=))
    But seriously, who would be better then any of those 3 ?

  4. It’s been a great few games for us, beating Liverpool twice, Chelsea and City.
    There is so much to be happy about and Arteta’s time has started with a bang!
    I am very hopeful, as I expect most fans are, that AMN stays. He has come through a really difficult period, played in several positions without complaint and finally has had a couple of Man-of-the-match performances when it really mattered. I don’t believe that Arsenal could sell him. If they even think any more about that, there will be millions of us that will put a top to it! We will, won’t we? We need to and we need the board to listen.

    The other player we definitely want to stay, is Martinez. He has been imperious since Leno’s injury. Is there any reason on God’s earth why Arsenal can’t actually have 2 world class keepers?
    If we make it back to the Champions League next season, which I’m sure we will do if the refereeing continues to improve, it would be seen as a sensible thing to keep both players.

    Martinez has spent years on loan, waiting for a chance. When it came, he has proved to be as good as any keeper in the league, probably the best. His tears after he helped win us the FA cup were amazing, having persevered and kept his self belief. He’s another player that has to stay and we should help make sure of that.

    We are buzzing at the moment and we have a lot to look forward to!

  5. The Community Shield win was typical of how narrow the margin is between elation and despair in football.

    One penalty kick. If Liverpool win on penalties, the story is: Arsenal could not finish the job. Arsenal fell apart. Arsenal bottled it.

    It is also important to note that Liverpool was playing with the majority of the their first-team intact. Except for Neco Williams, the starting XI for Liverpool were the club’s heavy hitters.

    By contrast, Arsenal played 3 players who were not regular starters last season – Elneny, Martinez, and Holding.

    As it is, the story is the improvement under Arteta, which seems real enough. The real story for me was that for 90 minutes Arsenal were competitive with a top team. That’s what the club really needs; the ability to take on and match the top clubs consistently, game after game after game. Arsenal have now won agasint top opposition 3 times in a row – Man City, Chelsea, and Liverpool.

    I also liked Chris’ comment about the players who contributed to the win being from Arsene Wenger’s era as manager. 2 starting players and 1 substitute, 3 of the 15 players who saw action, were signed by someone other than Arsene Wenger.

  6. The idiots claimed that Wenger has left us with a big mess in Ozil Mustafi Xhaka and see Arteta played all 3 to steady the ship and won the FA cup as well. I am sure Ozil will b back soon as the season starts.

  7. Amid all the glory and celebration the PGMOL attempt to foil our superiority on the Wembley turf must not go unnoticed.

    In the 69th minute Arsenal were pressurising the Liverpool defence and a long clearance into our half was chased down by Soares and Minamino. Minamino got past Soares who was watching the ball and stopped in front him. The ref in a shot gave Liverpool the ‘foul’, bringing the game into our half. He allowed Liverpool to foul us without a blink but was rapid in giving them fouls when they went to ground, forcing the game into our half, leading to the Liverpool equaliser.

    It is subtle in its application but not subtle enough to hide from a fan that watches process and application of the Laws of the Game.

  8. Chris and Rosicky@Arsenal

    Here here to your observations RE Wenger and the legacy of the squad he left us with.

    I know people get annoyed with the sort of comments you have made, citing the need to ‘move on’ and to ‘stop living in the past’ and similar disparaging remarks, but it’s not really just about that is it, at least not for me.

    Personally I am perfectly happy to move on and feel extremely comfortable with where we are at this moment in time.

    Arteta has restored confidence. He has shown great tactical awareness. The squad seems extremely happy as a unit. He seems able to get results, even when we are not the better side, a crucial element for a successful team. So looking good, very good

    But regarding Wenger, overall, given the poisonous atmosphere created around him, totally unjustifiably in my opinion, his departure was alas somewhat inevitable. But as you may of read the other day, I will not stand by and let people maliciously rewrite history and deride Wengers tenure, including his last few years, with distorted facts, a total lack of context, and to cap it all, as you 2 quite rightly allude to, a total lack of appreciation for the magnificent condition he left the Club AND the team in, the day he walked out the door.

    The debt of gratitude the Club and us fans owe Arsene Wenger is immense, and the disengenuous section of our fans, along with the ever critical ex players, who constantly undermine his achievements, should hang their heads in shame.

    Well said lads.

  9. I am going to repeat myself –
    Arsenal are doing much better with the absence of crowds; Especially a toxic one like our own.

    We are doing better without those negative posters and message bearing planes. As well as fake supporters that often infest the Ems.

    While the oppositon crowd’s booing did affect us some before ; but yet our own crowds cheering their booing was even worse !

    As the attention is now focused excusively on refs , they cannot get away with awful decisions with no crowd interference.Am in now way saying that the PIGMOB is good !

    The players must be happy just to play the game without unwanted pressure from anyone. They genuinely are enjoying playing for the Arsenal .

    And just like some of the posters above , I too would like us to use our own youth players . Or only replenish that which is absoutely required.

    I too hope that some fool or other does not shoot us in the foot anytime soon. They are stupid enough to do it ! Keep the crowds and wolves from the door . Keep everyone safe by staying the hell away !

    I enjoy watching the game all alone , at home , in peace , with a glass or two of wine for company . No need for unsolicted and unqualified so called media experts attempting to teach me or tell me what I’m watching !

    May bliss be here always !

    Up the Gunners !

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