One journalist writes a misleading headline; 50,000 copy. Arsenal v Southampton

By Bulldog Drummond

There is a story kicking around that 13 points from 12 matches is the worst start to represents their worst start to a top-flight season since 1974.

Now I read that and thought that was a rather weird statement because since 1919 all we have had is top-flight seasons, and it would be a bit weird if anyone writing for a newspaper, or indeed the BBC where I first spotted the piece, didn’t know that.

So I went digging, and found that the exact phrase, “their worst start to a top-flight season since 1974” appears on the websites of the BBC, the Telegraph, theExpress, the Star, the Guardian, the Mirror, Football London and on and on and on.

They are all copied from each other, as we can tell by the fact it is nonsense.  We have only played in the top flight since 1974 so how can it be anything but a start “to a top-flight season”.  Any normal writer would put “their worst start to a season since 1974”.

But that use of “top-flight season” (complete with the hyphen, the use of which is debatable) shows that this is a complete cut and paste job.

And this really is the point about football journalism in England.   A story is created and it is copied from one place to another to another over and over again.  In fact as I started to find it popping up everywhere I typed the exact phrase into Google complete with quotation marks and was told it had been used 91,500 times.

That is how all the media come out with the same message, a message that people then start to believe must be correct, because it is repeated over and over again.

This is why the entire journalist and blogging industry never touch on PGMO, the proof that refereeing is biased by the home crowd etc, and why when we did a review of every mention of Arsenal we found such a unanimity of thought.  It is not independent reviewers of a situation coming to their own conclusion.  This is straight cut and paste without any thought.

That’s why the away wins story, Leicester’s penalty glut and tackling, the number of fouls per yellow card, etc etc etc don’t turn up.  When we do our original research no one will copy that because we are outside the standard frame of reporting.  But when someone in the mainstream says “their worst start to a season since 1974” it is copied word for word, even though “top-flight season” is irrelevant because they have all been top flight seasons.

Technically the story is correct of course for after beating Manchester city 4-0 on 24 August 1974, Arsenal went ten games without a win, losing seven, drawing three, before beating WHU 3-0.  We dropped to the foot of the table (although with a fair amount of local company as the table below shows….

Club P W D L F A GAv Pts
17 Chelsea 13 3 5 5 13 20 0.650 11
18 Leicester City 12 3 4 5 16 18 0.889 10
19 Tottenham Hotspur 13 4 1 8 16 20 0.800 9
20 Queens Park Rangers 13 2 5 6 11 16 0.688 9
21 Luton Town 14 1 6 7 12 21 0.571 8
22 Arsenal 13 2 3 8 12 20 0.600 7

…although we recovered to end the season in 16th.  Tottenham were 19th, and Chelsea went down.

But that is not the point.  It is like the transfer rumours – someone makes it up (usually an agent as far as I can work out) and the story flits from site to site.  One person writes the irrelevant phrase “top-flight season” and it is copied and copied 91,500 times.

It is all grim stuff, but I am glad to have checked out that “worst start” quote.  Being downright misleading, is one thing, but to have it copied 91,500 times really does show us what football journalism is all about.  It is about copying text word for word, no matter whether it is misleading or not.

So what of the teams?

The Independent offer


Maitland-Niles, Luiz, Gabriel, Tierney,

Ceballos, Elneny, Willian, Saka,

Aubameyang, Lacazette

Sports Keeda give us


Soares, Holding, Gabriel, Tierney;

Ceballos, Elneny;

Pepe, Lacazette, Saka;



Hard Tackle gives us a vision of a very attacking front four.


Maitland-Niles, Luiz, Gabriel, Tierney;

Ceballos, Elneny;

Pepe, Willock, Aubameyang;



Pain in the Arsenal is more conventional


Maitland-Niles, Holding, Gabriel, Tierney;

Ceballos, Elneny, Saka;

Pepe, Aubameyang, Willian


i news has the full back swapping sides which is interesting, or a mistake…


Tierney, Holding, Gabriel, Maitland-Niles,

Ceballos, Elneny, Saka,

Willian, Aubameyang, Pepe


So there we are.  I’ve always known that the media copy each other blindly when it comes to football which is why Arsenal get such a bad press – one person writes it and everyone else duplicates it.  Now with the use of this same misleading phrase throughout, we can see exactly how it happens.

Maybe we’ll take another phrase next time and see how many so-called journalists copy that too.

21 Replies to “One journalist writes a misleading headline; 50,000 copy. Arsenal v Southampton”

  1. Not a cut and paste, but a guess, based on who the Club choose to feature on their training pictures.

    AMN to start (obviously)
    Luiz or Mari to start (Holding on bench)
    Martinelli on bench
    Smith Rowe on bench or to start
    Niketiah to start

    Pepe on bench, but may start
    Willian on Bench
    PEA to start (but should be on bench!)

    On form, Pepe, PEA and Willian need a break, IMO.

  2. Whichever team takes the field tonight, I’d love to see it. Can’t find anywhere that the game is on TV in Ireland, very unusual.
    Anybody shed any light on it for me please?

  3. Confirmed Arsenal Team vs Southampton

    Leno, Holding, Gabriel, Tierney, Maitland-Niles, Ceballos, Elneny, Saka, Pepe, Nketiah, Aubameyang

    Substitutes: Runarsson, Cedric, Luiz, Mustafi, Willock, Willian, Lacazette

  4. @tony I don’t understand the article, can you explain?
    Is it our worst start to the season since 1974 or have we done worse at any point between then and now?

  5. Going on and on about Gabriel’s 2nd yellow and trying to tie it to Arteta…absolute bollocks. It was a poor decision by an excellent, albeit young defender. nothing more. And, it has nothing to do with Arteta!!

  6. Sometimes, just sometimes, it is worth learning off of our American cousins. If you were to watch and listen to the commentary of an NFL gridiron match, you would hear learned, neutral commentary from the people in the booth.

    Teams that have poor records or are on a poor run of form are NOT ripped to shreds the way Arsenal is. They understand that they are trying to sell the league and ALL its teams and that form can change. They seek to analyze the reasons for mistakes rather than to criticize mistakes.

    We often hear puerile, biased, mean-spirited nonsense from the lot behind the mic during a Premier League match.

  7. Mistake by Arteta leaving Gabriel on after 1st yellow. He wasn’t playing well, and Luis was on the bench. Partly made up for it with Ceballos, who was playing well, but too much of a risk on a yellow.

  8. Was Gabriel first booking a bit harsh ? Second one stupid on the halfway line .
    A draw better than a loss little steps going forward .

  9. It is that broken nosed twat that comments like the God of all Things but knows fuck all about honest football.

    Gabriel was selected by the PIGMOB to go so the piggy in the middle carded him twice one for nothing and the second for a dive by Theo after Theo had fouled Gabriel with both hands that VAR couldn’t see. There were so many fouls on Saka that Southampton should have been down to 8 but those are not revisited.

    The kick to Ceballos’ foot was clear and obvious and should have been a penalty — but not for Arsenal.
    The high foot on Auba when the ball came back of the frame following Holdings header was not mentioned nor clear and obvious but is a penalty!!

    Arsenal were on the PGMOL slope and despite that we played good football.

    When justice arrives it will destroy the cheats.

  10. At last Arteta points at the biased officiating. The fouls that occur incessantly and not called!!! THE PGMOL cheating – he has aluded to it but not callede a pig a pig. The extra man???? it was three extra men……

  11. It’s worrying that the PIGMOB seem to have sensed that as we are near the bottom they can really put the pressure on. In the past they merely did their best to keep us away from the top but their knives are really out. Morally bankrupt…….as are the media.

  12. Chris, all the articles used the same phrase, “”their worst start to a top-flight season since 1974” even though that phrase had no need of the words “top-flight” since all ours seasons since 1919 have been “top flight”. Thus showing that they copied either the originator of the story or one of the copiers.
    This in turn shows that rather than investigating and drawing their own conclusions, the journalists are just following each other. This tends to lead to a unification of news stories, rather than journalists following their own leads and thoughts. It is such a blatant example of mass copying that it is worth noting, and in future articles I shall be looking at the consequences of this approach.

  13. Lovely goal. A Tottenham loss is welcome maybe not as much as an Arsenal win but I’ll take anything at the moment. Actually Spurs have had their fair share of good fortune recently and they do market the arrogant one- his arrogance fits theirs like a glove.

  14. How amazing is it how the media (today at least] see Walcott as being amazing and having been a great player for many years. Yet from memory, all I can remember when he was an Arsenal player is relentless criticism

  15. The shame of WBA and their sacking of Slaven Bilic. They have appointed Sam Shake the dice and think that will keep them in the EPL. Sam has been known to move amongst dodgy circles so the PGMOL will feel at home.

    It is sad when a club disrespects their manager by announcing the sacking to the press before talking to the manager. That is how some do it, despite the success.

  16. MOTD as usual do not show the penalty that was refused for the foul on Ceballos. Every other VAR is shown but against Arsenal – its not an issue- they are never hard done by!!

  17. Saw the first half only and it was such a boring match.With only 35% pocession at home and no creativity we look a disjointed lot.
    Has Arteta lost the dressing room? It does look so as i see players not putting there 100%.

    Are the big bloggers and there idiot fan following who wanted a modern manager happy to get there Arsenal back?

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