Arsenal are over achieving, and are due for a fall.

By Tony Attwood

Two stories in the media caught my attention today.   One is the reporting of Understat’s xG table which apparently shows that in the 22 league games played under Mr Arteta, Arsenal has gained (the implication is “luckily got”) nine points more than the data would expect.   The newspaper didn’t quite go back to “Lucky Arsenal” as we used to hear in olden times, but did add, “That suggests a measure of fortune and that a regression to the mean is likely.”

In short Arsenal have been riding their luck and shouldn’t be in the top section of the league table, and their comeuppance will arrive in any day now.  Comments of “Lucky Arsenal” should be used.

The article (which comes from the Guardian) does at least have the good sense to add that “But efficiency is something data analysis still struggles fully to elucidate.”

And yes, of course it is just possible that Arsenal have been lucky all the way through those 22 league games, although that seems to be pushing “luck” a bit far.  After all, it is possible that in a lucky draw of seven numbers, the same seven numbers could come out of the bag in the same order seven times running. It is possible, but unlikely.   Luck holding through 22 games?  Also very unlikely.

And in Arsenal’s case the manager hasn’t just been “lucky” in 22 league games because during that spell we won six consecutive FA Cup games, and the fact that these were excluded from the calculations give us a sense that only statistics that suit the thesis are being chosen.

We had no draws in the FA Cup, four of the six games were against Premier League sides, only one was at home and two of the games were against two of the top four clubs: Chelsea and Manchester City.  It was not an easy ride, we won six in a row without replays and out games included beating two of the top clubs in the land.

But you could also say under Mr Arteta Arsenal won only three of their first ten games, one being against a Championship team and the other against a team that was heading towards relegation.

And this is the real point: you can’t prove anything you want with statistics, that is certainly a fallacy, but quite often one can select statistics in order to match what you want to prove.  So for example, Mr Arteta won just one of his first eight league games with Arsenal.  Totally true.   But also true is the fact that Mr Arteta lost just one of his first 14 league and FA cup games with Arsenal.

Here are the games.

Date Game Res Score Competition
21 Dec 2019 Everton v Arsenal D 0-0 Premier League
26 Dec 2019 AFC Bournemouth v Arsenal D 1-1 Premier League
29 Dec 2019 Arsenal v Chelsea L 1-2 Premier League
01 Jan 2020 Arsenal v Manchester United W 2-0 Premier League
06 Jan 2020 Arsenal v Leeds United W 1-0 FA Cup
11 Jan 2020 Crystal Palace v Arsenal D 1-1 Premier League
18 Jan 2020 Arsenal v Sheffield United D 1-1 Premier League
21 Jan 2020 Chelsea v Arsenal D 2-2 Premier League
27 Jan 2020 AFC Bournemouth v Arsenal W 1-2 FA Cup
02 Feb 2020 Burnley v Arsenal D 0-0 Premier League
16 Feb 2020 Arsenal v Newcastle United W 4-0 Premier League
23 Feb 2020 Arsenal v Everton W 3-2 Premier League
02 Mar 2020 Portsmouth v Arsenal W 0-2 FA Cup
07 Mar 2020 Arsenal v West Ham United W 1-0 Premier League

The newspaper columnists who write these things are not stupid, they know they are just picking numbers to suit themselves and they know they are doing it to wind up Arsenal supporters.

Which is one reason why this blog so often finds itself printing a list of results; just to prove we are not making it up or taking results out of context.

This season’s results look promising:

Date Match Res Score Competition
29 Aug 2020 Arsenal v Liverpool W 1-1 (5-4) FA Community Shield
08 Sep 2020 Ipswich Town v Arsenal W 1-2 Football League Trophy
12 Sep 2020 Fulham v Arsenal W 0-3 Premier League
19 Sep 2020 Arsenal v West Ham United W 2-1 Premier League
23 Sep 2020 Leicester City v Arsenal W 0-2 League Cup

You might want to take out the League Trophy match, but still the rest look quite good.  But they only have a real context if you compare like with like. So in our next game we have Liverpool: let’s see how they have been doing:

Date Match Result Score Competition
29 Aug 2020 Arsenal v Liverpool L 1-1 (5-4) FA Community Shield
12 Sep 2020 Liverpool v Leeds United W 4-3 Premier League
20 Sep 2020 Chelsea v Liverpool W 0-2 Premier League
22 Sep 2020 Wigan Athletic v Liverpool L 6-1 Football League Trophy
24 Sep 2020 Lincoln City v Liverpool W 2-7 League Cup

If we keep in that League Trophy game we can see we did much better than them.  And in looking at the league cup we might note we played the team who came fifth last season, while Liverpool played a League One club.

So yes you can play with statistics and they can prove lots of things.  But as long as you compare like with like, they certainly can be valuable.

26 Replies to “Arsenal are over achieving, and are due for a fall.”

  1. What a nice sunday….seeing Spurs lose on a last minute VAR penalty… sweet afternoon…. And Kane is out against Manure as well.

    Apparently Fergie time is back, there is no other way I can explain how Manure got such a long time after 90 minutes to win the game.

    IMHO refereeing is reverting back to it’s old screwed up and incompetent ways.

  2. Chris

    Apparently the red wasn’t for Kane. shame, but you cat have everything. Another of the pundits favourites has a handball decision go against them. Oh dear this just wont do. Que more outrage.

    But isn’t it funny, prior to the added time mayhem, I was just about to comment on how Newcastle had been given 4 Yellows for just 9 fouls and Spurs stood on ZERO cards for 15 fouls. Not only that but in the first half alone on 9 minutes there was a clear off the ball offense by a Spurs player that was a yellow every day of the week that didn’t even get a foul or revue by VAR. There was a later off the ball that was looked at and rightly no action taken. But there was also a dive by a Spurs player on 14 mins that was a clear attempt to con the ref but was waved on and again no card issued.

    In both those potential Yellow card incidents we didn’t hear a word from the commentators. Those incidents are the kind they constantly replay to demonstrate how ‘Arsenal got away with one there’ when it involves us.

    Jose’s really going to spit his dummy out and the pundits will be with him all the way.

  3. Credit where credits due Sourness is saying what I think. Take out the ambiguity and make them black and white. As for those that say it’s spoiling football? Get a grip. I bet Newcastle fans don’t think it’s spoiling football. I certainly don’t. I know we will have one go against us, but I know the rules. It is what it is. And if that rule is adhered to we will have one go our way. That’s fate. I would much rather take my chance with fate, or luck, whatever you want to call it than I would with the impartiality of the man in black or VAR.

  4. I would also like to say fair play the Mourinho. He’s obviously frustrated because on the balance of play (not the Penalty decision) Spurs were robbed. If it was us I would be frustrated. But he’s kept his frustrations in tact, and fair play to him.

    Not a terrible weekend so far. Both Chelsea and Spurs dropping points you wouldn’t expect them to and United looking anything but impressive. I don’t expect us to get anything much at Anfield but a performance and avoiding a drubbing would, under the circumstances, be a result,

  5. Chris

    “Apparently Fergie time is back, there is no other way I can explain how Manure got such a long time after 90 minutes to win the game.”

    Les Williams asked the same yesterday but I watched the game and unfortunately there wasn’t anything amiss. As I said to him:

    “Brighton’s equaliser, then the penalty incident, both occurred within genuine added time. It just took time for the ref to check VAR, (hence the goal timed at +10 mins), which unfortunately showed a clear hand ball. It was a pen but Brighton were by far the better side. They had more shots on goal and hit the woodwork 3 times.”

    Not the machinations of the PGMOL this time.

  6. One for sure is people are still not yet believing in Arsenal but I want Arsenal to force them to believe in them one on one no can compare themselves with Auba Klopp knows that himself in the front three Laccazat is a bull Pepe is a technical baller William is an all rounder Bukayo Saka is key Xsaka is a stud David is brave Leno is a safe hand keeper very useful Belerin Tiniest Kolasinac are all super our new man Gabriel Williams and Saliva are super key players infant I will like Arteta to unleash Saliva on Liverpool to make it difficult for them he will use back four instead of back three

  7. Nitram,
    I’m sorry to disagree with you but with 60seconds left of added time it doesn’t matter if VAR took an hour, when the clock restarts play should still only continue for 60seconds, that didn’t happen and far more time was played.

  8. Richard

    No need to apologise but as far as I was aware if the offence occurred within the legitimate added on time, plus additional added on time allowing for Brighton’s equaliser, it doesn’t matter if it takes 10 seconds, 10 minutes, or 10 hours, time is allowed for the kick to be taken.

    Maybe one of Untolds referees can clear that point up for us.

  9. By the way I’m having a lovely afternoon watching the star turn of Great Britain’s Olympic Diving team run through his enormous range of World Class dives.

  10. Nitram,

    Can’t remember the exact sequence, but to me, the event happened after the 5 minutes of added time.
    I don’t seem to remember that there was a substitution not that the goal celebration was lengthy….

    So the penalty event should not have happened at all.

    The dunceheads on french TV were so pro-Tottenham, such a huge club in the PL (no comment), one of the best teams as of today.

    Just seeing Leicester sinking the 4-1 against Cit$y. Looks like Guardiola has serious problems….

    As for Chelsea….they spent so much…and are the proof that it takes time for a team to gel.
    And the dunceheads who were lambasting Mr Wenger years ago when we had new players all finding excuses for Lampard….

    Anyways, our competitors are losing points. Now we must not lose tomorrow. And as far as I am concerned, we are absolutely able to hold our own and not lose.

  11. George Ukaz: When a person who has not commented before on this blog comments for the first time, the comment is kept until I have a moment to approve it. This is essential since this site is bombarded day by day, hour after hour, with anti-Arsenal comments, anti Untold comments, abuse, adverts, and pieces that have no relevance to what we write about. So we have a variety of mechanisms for weeding such people out.

  12. Wow! 3 pens in one match! 2016 all over again! Odds for Leicester taking the league have just been halved.

  13. Chris and Richard

    My recollection was different but I’ve tried to find highlights with exact timings to be sure and I cant find them, but from what I have seen I must confess it is slightly different to my recollection, but I still think it is okay, more or less.

    The first thing to establish is how much original added time was awarded. The board displayed 5 Minutes of added time. Don’t forget that means a minimum of 5 Minutes, i.e. anything from 5 Mins to 5 mins 59 Secs.

    It seems the equaliser was scored in the 5th of those 5 minutes of added time. That is to say it was scored between minute 4 and minute 5. Now lets say the celebrations lasted 1 minute, that means added time should of then been extended to a minimum of at least 6 minutes. Again don’t forget that means anything from 6 Minutes to 6 Minutes and 59 Seconds added time is now due to be played. I believe the hand ball occurred in the 7th minute of added time. That is to say between 6 minutes and 6 minutes and 59 Seconds, which is within the legitimate amount of added time, given the sequence of events.

    Look, I cant believe I’m going to this extent to justify a Man Utd goal, but I always try to be fair and as such I think the insinuation being made that United were awarded a penalty in the 10th minute of added time when only 5 minutes were awarded is a distortion of the facts that do us no favours at all if we are to maintain our credibility.

    In summery:

    5 to 6 minutes of added time signalled.

    Brighton score within the allotted 5 to 6 minutes of added time.

    1 minute of additional added time to be played.

    6 to 7 minutes of added time now to be played.

    United awarded penalty between 6th and 7th minute of added time.

    That’s my interpretation of the events, others may have more accurate timings of the incidents that show me to be wrong,

    Either way Man united were very very fortunate to get anything out of the game let alone a win.

  14. GoingGoingGooner

    Leicester have scored 12 goals so far this season of which 5 have been penalty’s and 1 an own goal.

    All 3 of their penalties today were ‘soft’ but in the category of ‘I’ve seen them given’. They were 50/50’s.

    But events like today go back to my old bug bear of a ref cheating without cheating.

    What I mean by that is that when it comes to a 50/50, no matter what the referee gives he can neither be right nor wrong. Whatever way he gives it he certainly cant be called a cheat. But what if there are 2 50/50’s and he gives them both to team A ? Is that cheating? Hardly. But what if there are 3 50/50’s and he gives all 3 of them to team A, is that cheating ? Maybe, maybe not, but it’s certainly starting to look as if team A are being favoured. Now what if over a period of 3 matches team A has 5 50/50’sand all 5 go in their favour, is that cheating? Still hard to say, especially as now we have the additional complication of more than one referee being involved. But whatever way you look at it something seems a bit odd. Then, what if this goes on over an entire season and team A ends up with miles more penalties than anyone else ?

    This suggests a great deal more than the natural expectation of half of the 50/50’s went their way over the season, which in turn suggests something is wrong, very wrong.

    Is it cheating, or as I phrase it ‘cheating without cheating’ ? I don’t know. What I do know is, is that team A were refereed in a completely different way to the of others and seem to of been disproportionately favoured when it comes to the awarding of penalties.

    Todays events do indeed suggest that team A could well be heading for a similar season again having been awarded the same amount of penalties in 1 match as we (and 9 others) received in the ENTIRETY of last season.

  15. With the incredible amount of spot kicks being awarded left right and centre I am going have a bet on Arsenal breaking the all time record for the number of penalties conceded by any team ever over the course of a season. There might even be a faint chance of us being awarded a couple in our favour as well.

  16. hey tony, Nice article and i totally agree with it, thats the fun with statistics and the way you could use them.
    Im not a believer in superstitions and unlucky numbers but since your wrote the number “22” in this article, it absolutely turned my head , the last time number 22 was used with us in the past couple of seasons is as follows:
    1. Mustafi after joining played continuously and arsenal did not lose for 22 games
    2. Emery in his first season went on a run of 22 games unbeaten from september to december i think.
    We all know how those two situations ended up, for mustafi, the hate he received was unbelievable over the two years since, (although he makes brainless mistakes but he is a good defender, anyone who watches football will know this, his aerial ability and ball playing ability makes arteta favour him)
    Secondly, since the run of 22 games for emery , it started going downhill very fast so (and to be honest emery was very bad barring few games i remember when we drew liverpool 1-1 at home in his first season and against spuds & leicester At home)

    I think the arsenal hating media did not pick this thing up yet since i havent seen anything written on it anywhere yet.

    Anyways hope we make a game at anfield since we ve been as bad as ive seen arsenal play in the past few seasons at anfield.

  17. I think that we should do creditable well against Liverpool , if the refs don’t start with their crap. They do have chinks within their ranks , though their front three are very impressive. And potent.
    Up the Gunners !

  18. Well, about Leicester penalties…here is a quote from vardy in the Guardian today :

    “In post-match, he revealed something of the technique that won Leicester two of their three penalties. “If you’re both running at speed, whoever gets there first is going to be tripped by the player behind,” he said.

    Guess he is not totally wrong, the more so if refs are inclined to offer penalties.

    No Arsenal player would get away with this strategy….and I can’t think of another player in the PL – and others are as fast – who has that number of penalties awarded.

  19. Still, there is embellishment with those penalties, too. On two of them, the aggrieved player managed to add a twist to their tumble. That’s embarrassing! In ice hockey, it is not uncommon for a penalty to be called (perhaps for tripping) and an EMBELLISHMENT penalty to be called because the player being tripped dives like a speedo clad Olympian.

  20. The Pogba incident that was called a penalty and then reversed was an absolute indicator of cheating on behalf of United. The subsequent incidents were not worth considering against the Laws as the depth of water to drown the opposition was a dry pot!!
    The PGMOL are not and never will be ‘clean’. They are a corrupt racist organisation that takes ‘the knee’ and ‘the piss’ at the same time. Their select system of choosing officials is corrupt and cannot be ever credited with any form of fairness or transparency.

  21. Brighton’s equaliser cam on 4 minutes 29 seconds. The missing 31 seconds and more had lapsed before United had gained their corner, which was in fact a goal kick ,but never mind. This “minimum” time allowance only applies if there is any suggestion of time wasting through substitutions for example. None of that applied and the final whistle should have been blown when the ball ran out for a throw.

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