By Tony Attwood
Just imagine you are a football journalist and some way through the season your editor shouts [which is what he does because that is what editors do] that he wants an “Arsenal article.”
Putting down your tipple of choice [because having a tipple of choice is de rigueur for journalists] you ask what he wants it about. He shouts over his shoulder [because that’s also what editors do] that it’s your job to find the topic and adds for good measure “why don’t you do your job for a change instead of wanting someone always to hold your hand and what are you some kind of ….”
So given the detail of your brief (an article about Arsenal if you would be so kind) you take a look at the league table on this day, part way through the season.
In this imaginary world it’s about two thirds of the way through the season, so the pattern of results is well established and there should be a clue as to what to write about.
We might imagine that the table looks like this…
|4||West Ham United||24||13||5||6||41||28||13||44|
OK I know it’s a bit silly what with West Ham being fourth and all, and even odder having Arsenal third, and probably for a moment you suspect (being a regular reader of the newspapers) you are holding the table upside down, but no it seems that it is right, and 24 games into the season Arsenal are third.
So what are you going to write about?
OK first thing is that but Manchester City are out of sight. Arsenal have a game in hand but that’s hardly going to count for anything is it? So you could do a “Third is not a trophy” article about Arsenal not being good enough. Or a more positive one about overtaking Manchester United, who have played one game more. Arsenal as runners’ up this year and closing the gap be closed next year? That’s a possible. Headline “Mind the gap”. Bit corny but still…
But no, the boss wants something more. So how about the attack? Arsenal currently have the third best attack in the league with 43 goals from 24 games, only two goals behind Manchester United and 14 goals ahead of Chelsea. Wow, there’s something there giving the relative expenditure. 14 goals more than Chelsea with their leading scorer of last season, Aubameyang, seemingly eternally crocked.
But again no, hang on… with an even closer look there is a better article. The second best defence with only one more goal conceded than Manchester City. Now surely that is something – that Arsenal defence must be worth looking at.
And there’s the balance too – the second best goal difference – although to be fair it is a GD that is one hell of a long way behind Manchester City. No we’d better leave that. Let’s stick with that defence.
First thing: Arsenal absolutely need to hold on to this defence that have done so well. So lot’s of contract extensions and pay rises. Absolutely no talk about selling the goalkeeper and ditching the regular players – these guys are something. As good as Man C’s defence. Let’s keep that back line together – and the defensive midfield too come to that.
Maybe, since like everyone else, Arsenal are 20+ goals behind Manchester City all the money should be put into attack, especially as Auba is 32 and has had a difficult season.
That would be the obvious approach – and the whole issue is relevant because as I am sure you will immediately have realised, that table above is the actual real live table for the last two thirds of this past season.
Which is rather curious because the leading story has been the need to get rid of Xhaka (a liability they say) and Leno (simply not good enough) and well, the whole back line except Tierney. I mean everyone says they are in need of replacement.
And that last sentence is the clue to it all. That table is the table of Arsenal’s last two thirds of the season, but we all know the defence is crap because everyone says so. It’s in the paper day after day.
Tell you what, it must be the league table that’s lying.
After all it can’t be the media.
The Glorious 2021 Revolution
- Arsenal only did well after Xmas because the fixtures were much easier
- Why Arsenal absolutely must not “allow the players to play”
- How Arteta gave us a hint of what he was about to do, but we missed it.
- For the last two thirds of last season, Arsenal were a top two club
- The audacious tactical change that sent Arsenal charging up the league table
- Figures from Football Observatory at the end of the season showing Arsenal players dominating the statistics.
- All change with PGMO and the refs.. But what change?
- The last five years proves one big thing: nothing is guaranteed.
- Injuries Time to sack Tierney according to one part of the media
- Next season starting lineup and the new Financial Fair Play rules
- The huge bias of referees is proven. PGMO and media fight back.