By Tony Attwood
For football journalists life is black and white, good and bad, yes and no, with no bits in between. And the reason for that is simple: they treat their readers as idiots who can only understand black and white, rather than real life.
After last Sunday if you had just taken your view of Arsenal from the media you would have surely believed that Nicolas Pépé was a) the world’s worst player and b) a totally out of control idiot and c) should never play again.
Of course he was none of these for he was hardly the first player to have had enough of the way he was being treated by a) some fans and b) most referees.
The media of course pump out this nonsense that we are all, always, totally responsible for our own actions, which allows them to say that social and media pressure has no effect what so ever. They heard Thatcher say “there is no such thing as society” and now live that tripe out through their scribblings.
Yet this is the year when we have discovered for sure the amount of effect a home crowd can have on players. That’s not an opinion, that is a fact, based on the number of home wins there were with crowds in the ground and the number of away wins without crowds in the ground.
Or if you fancy a bit more analysis, the number of free kicks given to home teams and yellow cards to away teams by referees with fans in the ground as opposed to the reverse without fans. Or if that is not enough for you, the amount of time added on when the home team is pressing for an equaliser or winner with fans in the ground, as opposed to the opposite with no fans in the ground.
Through this year we’ve covered all those facts (along with some fairly inconvenient ones for PGMO referees comparing their accuracy with that of Swiss referees), as well as the big revelation in which all the data shows that fans influence referees. As a result although it is harder to do a factual study of how fans affect players, it is perfectly reasonable and logical to take the referee data and apply it to players. Fans influence the performance of players. It’s obvious, but it is also factually proven.
Which mean that fans supporting the team urge them on, fans endlessly remorselessly knocking individual players, cause the players problems.
Yes we can be all moral and high minded and say a player paid as much as Nicolas Pépé ought to be able to control himself, but few of those of us who go to watch matches ever face anything like the pressure the players face – especially when a number of their club’s own supporters turn against the player.
The people who got the Pépé situation right were Pépé himself, who put in a sterling performance last night, Arteta who not only picked him to play last night but who clearly used the right motivational technique, and the commentators and bloggers who refused to condemn him out of hand.
The people who got it wrong were those who remorselessly attacked him and laughed at him and who still called themselves Arsenal fans.
It would not have been surprising if Nicolas Pépé had let his head drop after he hit the bar from 25 yards out. But he seemed to get ever better. As Arteta said in the press conference, “After something negative you want to see a reaction and to stand out really quickly. I could see from the first minute from his body language that he was really bright; I really liked it.”
So yes it was a good night for Arteta and for Pépé as well as being a pretty memorable one for Folarin Balogun. Who knows, when we play Rapid Vienna next Thursday we might see him start as well as Nicolas Pépé.
In the other match in the group Dunalk lost to Rapid Vienna meaning that Arsenal will go through even if they lose the final two games. That in turn gives the manager a great chance to let some of our other youngsters show what they can do.
SK Rapid Wien
Arsenal and Hoffenheim are now the only two teams left in the group stages with 100% records after Hoffenheim beat Lebrec 0-2.
The downside of it all was that having flown out on Tuesday in order to comply with the local covid regulations concerning giving negative tests, the plane back was cancelled due to fog in southern England, and the team spent another night in Norway. Still can’t win them all.
- 93 players rumoured to be going to Arsenal. Are the journos getting lazy?
- The home and away scandal: ignorance, or cover up?
- The reason why Liverpool and Man C are ahead of Arsenal.
- How which referee a club gets has a major impact on the result of each game
- The statistical evidence that shows PGMO are biased against Arsenal